Efron and Kidman collaborated on the 2012 movie The Paperboy directed by Lee Daniels. The film would follow a reporter’s lone investigation into a murder committed by an inmate on death row. Efron plays the younger brother of said journalist, who soon becomes deeply involved in the case himself.
The movie was a significant opportunity for Efron. It gave the actor a chance to expand his filmography during his younger years while also pushing him further outside of his comfort zone.
“I wasn’t supposed to feel at ease,” Efron once said according to Backstage. “The character I play is a young, naive man who learns how to better understand the world. Today, I’d like to have other experiences in the cinema, to go beyond the frontiers. It was a dream, and I hope to be able to continue to act in films like this. I was a blank page for Lee Daniels to write on.”
he Paperboy was known for the relationship displayed between Efron and Kidman in the movie. The intensity of their on-screen intimacy led to a memorable love scene between the actors. But Daniels didn’t give a clear stopping point to the scene in question for Kidman and Efron.
“Basically, I was with Nicole Kidman, and it was insinuated in the scene – it was mostly improv – that we were supposed to hook up, but the director just never yelled ‘cut,’” Efron once said on Buzzfeed (via Refinery29).
The awkwardness came from not knowing when and how they take would finish.
“Yeah, we went there,” he continued. “It was uncomfortable just because I didn’t know when we were going to stop. It was pretty cool, though, considering it was Nicole Kidman.”
Still, the High School Musical alum asserted that the scene was an unforgettable moment earlier in his career. Partially because he simply had the chance of working with someone he’d greatly admired as an actor and a person.
“It was everything you dreamed of. She was such a lovely person. I pinch myself every day, especially after doing love scenes with Nicole Kidman,” he said according to the Daily Express (via Yahoo). “It was the highlight of my life. Nicole was something else and was always in character. She didn’t get weird methods like some actors to do, but I have never seen anyone so centered.”
Kidman learned a lot about Efron from the on-screen relationship that they had in the movie. And the information she gathered strengthened her faith in Efron’s future as an actor.
“He just has a lot of heart, Zac. As tough as he tries to be, he’s not tough. Which is a good thing. I mean that as a compliment,” Kidman once told Awards Daily. “There’s no rough exterior to Zac. I think you really feel that on-screen. He just has to look, and you feel for him. I think he has a really strong power in what he doesn’t say… I think he’s going to have a really strong career. Because he’s also very open. That’s a beautiful thing in a man, is that openness.”
But the Oscar-winner admitted there was one scene in the movie that was pretty extreme. The scene in question saw Kidman’s character urinating on Efron’s in the movie to treat injuries he’d sustained on the beach. It was a take that generated a lot of buzz during the time it came out. And although Kidman was shocked the scene was popularized by the internet, she was happy that she did it with Efron.
“Yes, I did the scene. That was what Lee wanted. It was in the script. And it’s pretty out there. I mean I love Zac. He’s such a great guy and let me just say I am glad it was him. I feel safe with Zac and hopefully he feels safe with me. Oh my God I can’t believe it’s all over Twitter. Of course it would be all over Twitter,” she said in a 2012 interview with Deadline.