The second screening was yesterday morning and also got a standing ovation and lots of love on twitter. So I've got some twitters, reviews and other comments from the cast on Zac's role. We'll start with twitters about Zac:
Some great comments, though I'm surprised that both major trades (THR and Variety) were kind of down on it overall, though at least THR seemed to like Nat/Zac more than Variety. IDK if it is a disconnect in generation? Or… idk. Anyway, please check out the sources for full reviews.
Radnor directs with confidence and although the film lacks distinctive stylistic flourishes, it’s populated with entertaining characters, including Jenkins as the reluctant retiree, Allison Janney playing Jesse’s cynical and amorous former lit professor, and Zac Efron as a shamanistic campus hanger-on.
At its heart, Liberal Arts about a struggle against adulthood. You have Radnor’s character going back to his alma mater and falling for a 19-year-old student (Olsen). You have his favorite professor (Jenkins) struggling with retirement. And along the way, other characters pop in and out (Efron is one particular bright spot) who dole out life lessons and ideas about what that all means.
The real treasure within Liberal Arts is an all to brief supporting turn by Zac Efron as this sort of free-loving, care-free, twenty-something who ends up steering Fisher in the right direction.
Through a series of scenes, including Peter's pathetic retirement party and Jesse's unlikely encounters with manic-depressive intellectual Dean (John Magaro) and painfully kooky Nat (Zac Efron), a blissful slacker full of aphorisms, "Liberal Arts" draws a slick, simplistic overview of college life, to which Jesse feels nostalgically drawn….
Zibby's passion for improv is never once seen onscreen, robbing the film of natural comic material, but then again, nothing in this careful entertainment is given over to improvisation or impulse. Janney and Jenkins inject a human, smart sensibility, while Efron is an annoyance, and Magaro tends to be actorish.
On one of his random forays across the quad, he meets Nat, a carefree hippie played by Zac Efron who encourages Jesse with all kinds of Bohemian sentiments ("be love, man!"). Efron totally steals the movie, adding a much needed comedic interlude to some of the more heady discussions you may assume would be in a film with this title.
In the meantime, we’re offered an inspired, anti-Zac Efron turn by Mr. Efron himself, playing that kid at school with a name that sounds like the clothes he wears. In this case, Nat.
Although the story revolves around Zibby and Jesse’s generation gap relationship, whose respective actors share a palpable chemistry, it would be an incredible injustice to not mention the amazing supporting characters that Radnor treats us to. Zac Efron (yes, it’s him, and I honestly couldn’t tell for sure it was him till the credits, mostly due to his character and a knit beanie that is a permanent fixture upon his head) plays the hilariously, not-sure-if-he’s-stoned hippie Nat, who crosses Jesse’s path only a couple times but becomes his mentor in taking things as they come and not being afraid to say yes to things that might be uncomfortable.
With nice supporting turns by Alison Janney (as an intimidating literature professor), Zac Efron (as a prone-to-Zen-philosophizing student) and especially John Magaro (as a depressed English major), the movie suggests a kinder, sweeter version of Wonder Boys. It’s far and away the strongest film I’ve seen this year at the festival, and it seems almost certain to land a big acquisition deal.
That was followed by the world premiere of BCDF’s Liberal Arts at the Eccles, written by, directed, co produced and starring Josh Radnor and co starring Elizabeth Olsen. Both were absolutely terrific in the film as was the rest of the cast, with Zac Efron giving a hilarious, out of character performance and with Richard Jenkins giving yet another moving and layered performance (remember how incredible he was in The Visitor a few years back?).
An unbilled Zac Efron does a decent job channeling Pitt in True Romance.
Others that don't mention Zac specifically: FilmSchoolRejects.com, Paste Magazine, and V Magazine.
Misc. Interviews/Comments about Zac
From the Q&A:
From THR, Lizzie thinks Zac and Allison steal the show:
From a GQ interview with Josh and Lizzie:
GQ: Zac Efron has a funny cameo in your film as Nat, a wise stoner. Was that character based on someone you knew?
Josh Radnor: No, but the name was. We had a guy on campus named Nat who had befriended this big drug guy. Nat looked much older than a college student. And after the drug guy got kicked out of school—for trying to light the dorm carpet on fire—Nat was suddenly gone. We started going, I think Nat was a NARC.
Popsugar has a red carpet interview with Josh but he basically says the same thing he said onstage.
Other General LA Twitter Comments
P.S. Slightly OT to above but Sparks has said they're doing some promo shooting tomorrow for TLO so that's exciting.