"Stars - they're just like us," mutters Sofia Vergara at one point in Garry Marshall's upcoming mutant rom-com "New Year's Eve", a follow-up of sorts to the director's hugely-successful 2010 "portmanteau film" (Marshall's preferred term ) "Valentine's Day". And it's true, you know.
Case in point: "High School Musical" dreamboat Zac Efron. Sure, he may be tall, handsome, famous and wealthy and have amazing hair, but like any average twenty-something-year-old young man he's also got a thing for MILFs. Specifically, in this case, the still-beautiful 53-year-old movie star Michelle Pfeiffer.
"I met Michelle a few years ago during 'Hairspray' and had a huge crush on her, always, from day one," said Efron, speaking about his last collaboration with the triple-Oscar nominee. "And back then I was very, very young and very bashful, and around her I tended to put my foot in my mouth a lot. I didn't really know what to say to her, and everything just came out wrong...I didn't know what to do. But then I got to talk on the phone with [her] about this part, and she said, 'I think we should take this to the next level. We should...get a kiss in there.' And I was like, 'I'm in! I'm in this movie! Sign me up! Let's do it!'...It was awesome."
And then, to Michelle: "Every second with you was amazing."
"Aww!" cried a chorus of female voices, resounding in the rarified air of the swanky Beverly Hilton ballroom where the film's press conference was currently being held.
"We didn't really talk that much before at all, until we showed up. And I think he was a little disappointed when he opened my trailer door and there sat 'Ingrid'," said Pfeiffer, referring to her mousy character, a repressed executive secretary. "And his little face just kind of fell. I felt really bad. But I think probably the sweetest thing about him was that he never let on, and he still won't admit how disappointed he was!"
But enough of all that. Efron and Pfeiffer - by far the day's most captivating duo - continued to charm us with their playful repartee, the former hell-bent on painting himself as a "playa" or whatever by continuing to flirt shamelessly. Here's an exchange that begins with Michelle describing a day during which they were required to ride on a scooter together through the streets of New York City:
Michelle: "The elements were a bit challenging. ...The paparazzi were out in full force, in the scene, in the shot, and Gary was constantly talking Zac and I off a ledge." [Laughs]
Zac: "It was basically just us snuggling very close."
Michelle: [playing along] "Yeah, that was nice."
Zac: "That was a turn-on. I felt very comforted."
That Zac Efron, such a charmer!
...recalled Duhamel, who - it should be noted - practically high-fived Efron across the table during one of the latter's Michelle Pfeiffer come-ons.
"How am I like my character?" asked Zac Efron, responding to a query from the room near the end of the Q&A. "At the beginning he's a bit douchey I think, and a little self-absorbed."
"Narcissistic," chimed in Pfeiffer.
"Yes, narcissistic," replied Efron, suddenly realizing the corner he'd backed himself into. "I don't know, I guess I'm digging a hole here...I guess I'm a narcissist."
"You're actually fun-loving like [your character] Paul, I would not call you a narcissist," she offered.
Anyway, what about that kiss between the unlikely would-be couple, which in the film happens just at the stroke of midnight as confetti is unleashed upon the Times Square revelers?
"I remember in my hotel room, the night before, imagining how I was gonna kiss you, and it was awesome!" said Efron. "I was the man in every way - glorious...[with] the wind...newspapers started coming up, and electricity, and a big dip...and I went to execute on the day and right when I got to the crucial moment, a huge piece of confetti flew right in my mouth." (This moment, in case you're interested, is in the finished film).