interviews from epk, some is probably old but just in case
Press Notes: That Awkward Conversation
The one word that can instantly stop an amorous young man in his tracks, says director Tom Gormican, is the word “so,” because it’s often the immediate precursor to the awkward moment of the movie’s title.
“The ‘so’ question usually comes at a crossroads in a relationship,” says Gormican. “In the beginning, there’s some ambiguity. People are hooking up, seeing people, dating people. At some point, the conversation happens. In the movie, as the guys say, nothing good ever follows the word ‘so.’”
Or as Efron puts it: “It’s at the beginning of every uncomfortable question that implies that commitment is imminent: ‘So, where is this going? So, what are we doing? So, is this a relationship? So, are we dating?’ It’s the first step down that road.”
Poots will debate whether or not the fear only applies to men. “The movie explores that idea in a lovely way,” says Poots. “It is funny, but it’s also important. To me, it’s really brave for a guy or a girl to decide to find out what they’re getting into in an open and forthright way. One half of a couple wants to know if this is going to get more serious or not.”
And Jordan agrees that it goes both ways in real life. “We’ve all had ‘so’ moments,” he says. “Both guys and girls will see this movie and say, I’ve been there.”
For Teller, once you start to talk about feelings, everything changes. Suddenly, nothing is laidback or casual. “The more you want to see a person, the more you’re going to see a person. Then, it gets to the point where they’re the only person that you want to see. Maybe you start to feel like you’re in a little too deep and you’re not looking to be. Someone’s feelings are going to get hurt. Somebody always cares more about the other person. For Jason and Daniel, that’s normally time to phase her out.”
With a few years distance, Gormican blames what he calls “the tyranny of choice,” after a book by the same name. “The idea behind the book is that the more choices we have, the less satisfied we are with the choices we make,” he says. “If you apply that to the dating world, you see that with Facebook and other kinds of social media, the choices seem endless. Everything is available to you. New York can be like the live version of that. Everyone you know lives within two or three square miles of you. How do you settle down? Why would you want to when there are always ten other options on your phone?”
Efron hopes many people will find the situation relatable, especially the friendship between Mikey, Daniel and Jason. “There’s a lot of humor in this, even though the situations are absolutely real. I think this movie is a chance for girls to see a whole different side to guys like this. They have good hearts and the best intentions, but it’s sometimes hard for them to handle. I don’t really know if we’ve ever seen it before in a film.”
“I think guys will it find very relatable,” says Gormican. “It’s been a long time since I’ve really seen a movie where male friendships are depicted in a close and sincere way Hopefully they’ll see it because they find the idea of guys avoiding relationships funny, but there’s so much more going on.”
Poots agrees the appeal will be universal. “The film balances humor with heartfelt emotion,” she says. “Girls will also recognize things in the film that they’ve experienced themselves. I can relate to the storyline, not just as a girl, but also in terms of what all of the characters are going through. The idea of post-college life and your first job, your first relationship, and the ways your friendships are changing is universal. The geography of your life is shifting. All of those elements are in the film.”
Press Notes - That Awkward Moment: About the Production
Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller star in the R-rated comedy about three best friends who find themselves where we have all been—at that confusing moment in every dating relationship when you have to decide “So…Where is this going?”
Jason (Zac Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) are living a carefree single life in New York City when their best friend Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) learns his wife wants a divorce. In a show of support, the three longtime buddies promise each other that they will avoid commitment at all costs and stay single together, but their plans are derailed when Mikey starts to surreptitiously date his ex, and Jason and Daniel unexpectedly fall in love. Soon each man finds himself at the most crucial point in a relationship, a moment when “so…” becomes the most terrifying word in the English language.
Written and directed by Tom Gormican (Movie 43), That Awkward Moment is about the vulnerability and embarrassment of navigating modern-day relationships, uniquely told from the point of view of the three guys. The film stars Zac Efron (The Paperboy, High School Musical), Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now, 21 & Over), Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station, Chronicle), Imogen Poots (Filth, Fright Night), Mackenzie Davis (Breathe In, Smashed) and Jessica Lucas.
The film is produced by Justin Nappi (All is Lost, Arbitrage), Andrew O’Connor (Magicians, “Peep Show”), Scott Aversano (Safe House, The Last Airbender) and Kevin Turen (All is Lost, Arbitrage). Director of photography is Brandon Trost (This is the End, That’s My Boy). Original music is by David Torn (Twilight, The Lincoln Lawyer). Production designer is Ethan Tobman (Empire State, The F Word). Editors are Shawn Paper (“Girls,” “Parks and Recreation”) and Greg Tillman (Elsewhere, The Zodiac).Costume designer is Anna Bingemann (Movie 43, The Impossible).
Executive producers are Manu Gargi (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Double), Zac Efron, Jason Barrett (17 Again, “The Man”), Michael Simkin (17 Again, The Lucky), John Friedberg (District 9, Alex Cross), Lia Buman (Insidious: Chapter 2, Looper) and Peter Schlessel (Drive, Looper). Co-producers are Andrew Fierberg (Secretary, 13 Conversations About One Thing) and Ray Marshall (The Black Velvet Gown, The Fifteen Streets).
There comes a time in every relationship, according to writer and director Tom Gormican, when a couple reaches the point of no return, an instant at which they can move forward or let go, but either way, they will never be the same again. In That Awkward Moment, which made the prestigious 2010 Black List of unproduced screenplays, three longtime buddies grapple with that turning point.
Gormican penned the screenplay because he was interested in the idea of making a romantic comedy with a twist—the story would be told from the guys’ point of view. Using his years as a young, single New Yorker as a jumping off point, Gormican spun a story about three very different 20-somethings enjoying life in the big city while trying make their marks professionally and socially.
“There’s a lot of noise in people’s lives these days that skews our understanding of relationships,” Gormican says. “The question we’re exploring throughout the movie is what it actually means to be in a relationship. That’s what launched this entire thing.”
The project took a huge leap forward when Zac Efron became involved. He learned about it from producer and Treehouse Pictures President Justin Nappi, with whom he had worked on the 2012 family drama At Any Price. While travelling together in France, Justin pitched Zac on the idea of a classic rom-com seen from a uniquely male perspective. Efron not only signed on to star in the film but also joined as an executive producer while the script was still in development.
“The story allows guys to see their side of the situation and it gives girls a new perspective on relationships,” says Efron. “And we all get a chance to laugh at ourselves and our friends in the bargain. I thought it was a really unique idea.”
In addition to working with Gormican to continue developing the script, Efron brought in his production company, Ninjas Runnin’ Wild, and his partners Jason Barrett and Michael Simkin also joined as executive producers. With Zac’s commitment to star in the film and Justin and Treehouse’s commitment to produce and fully finance it, the filmmakers were able to lock in talent deals and make That Awkward Moment Treehouse’s first film with both domestic and foreign pre-sale distribution.
“Zac really trusted the material,” says Gormican. “He and his colleagues have been great sports and real partners in getting this film made. They were ready to do whatever we needed them to do.”
Efron and Miles Teller play best friends Jason and Daniel, perennially unattached players for whom the nightclubs and cafes of lower Manhattan are a happy hunting ground, full of beautiful and ambitious young women. When their longtime friend Mikey, played by Michael B. Jordan, splits with his wife, Jason and Daniel welcome him back to the pack enthusiastically.
“New York City is an incredibly fun place to be a single guy,” says the director, who began his career with boutique production company GreeneStreet Films in Manhattan. “Jason and Daniel are comfortable hanging out without much responsibility or emotional connection. What’s important to them at this stage in their life is their friendship. Like a lot of people, they are expecting that everything will eventually come together at the same time. If you get the job you want, then you’ll have the relationship you want. The simple fact of the matter is that’s not true.”
It’s an attitude that Gormican says he sees in a lot of younger people today. “Both guys and girls are a little disillusioned with dating and getting married and progressing towards some sort of conventional path,” he notes. “Jobs are scarce for people just out of college, so they have to be career focused. Both girls and guys are less interested in deep, intense emotional connections, especially in a city like New York where that could hold you back.”
Mikey, on the other hand, is a long-term relationship kind of guy and his marriage is ending. He isn’t sure he wants to get back onto the world of partying with the guys and trying to pick up girls. “Mikey’s the guy who wanted to be on track as early as possible,” says Gormican. “He went to medical school. He married the ‘right’ girl. But things don’t always work out the way you want them to. Now, he’s going through a divorce.”
Mikey’s reluctance to dive back into the dating pool moves Jason to propose a pact between the three friends. The inspiration for their agreement came from a truly classic comedy. “I remembered a Shakespeare play called Love’s Labour’s Lost,” Gormican says. “In the story, a group of guys decide to swear off women, but then they all meet girls and they start lying to each other about it. I thought it was an interesting idea that could be updated really effectively. When Mikey gets dumped, instead of saying, that’s terrible, his friends say great, you’ve come back to us. Come into our world. This is the place to be. And they make this pact not to get emotionally involved with any of the women they hook up with.”
But the plan backfires almost immediately, as each of the friends unexpectedly finds himself embroiled in what could be the romance of a lifetime. “So, of course, they start lying to each other right away,” Gormican says. “They deny that they are involved, but eventually all of the lies start to come out. They start to realize that the pact is both stupid and irrelevant. It’s time to admit that they are past that time when hanging out is the most important thing in the world. In a way, it’s a very realistic coming-of-age tale about guys in their 20s.”
Gormican subverts the classic boy meets girl with a sly new twist, when Jason meets Ellie, his unlikely dream girl. “There is a longstanding tradition in romantic comedy, and even dramatic narrative, that people cannot end up together the first time they meet,” says Gormican. “They have to not like each other initially. But I thought, that’s not realistic, especially in places like New York and Los Angeles. What happens now is you meet someone, you have a great night and you hook up. People told me not to do that in a movie, and I thought, why not? It’s realistic. It doesn’t mean either of them is slutty. It means that they’re two people who found a connection one night, and then have to deal with the aftermath.”
That aftermath is an embarrassing misunderstanding on Jason’s part that almost sinks his chances with Ellie before he even gets started. Gormican remembered an article he had read a few years earlier. “At the time, the economy was in the toilet,” he says. “According to this article, some girls were making money at the cool, downtown bars by being, essentially, hookers. I thought that would be a funny element when the complication becomes that he can’t afford to pay, so he sneaks out before she wakes up.”
But Jason has jumped to the wrong conclusion and ends up with egg on his face when Ellie turns up at his office a few days later—as a potential client. “He screws up, because he’s an idiot,” says Gormican. “To me, that’s realistic, judging by my friends and myself. Most often, it is the guy screwing it up at the beginning of a relationship. When they meet again, it’s a classic coincidental movie moment that we played for laughs. The outcome is that they realize they actually are a good match.”
Jason, Daniel and Mikey find many more ways to undermine themselves over the course of the movie as they struggle to understand what they really want. “The idea of what a relationship is has been redefined in this generation,” says Gormican. “We have a whole variety of new tools through which to try and connect. What does looking at people’s pictures on Instagram mean? Or talking to them on IM or on your phone or by text? What about Facebook? Ultimately, I believe, the most important thing about a relationship is being there for someone when it’s difficult and they need you. That’s the universal theme of the movie that I think everyone should relate to.”
Press Notes - Casting That Awkward Moment
The cast of That Awkward Moment boasts four of Hollywood’s hottest young actors: Zac Efron, who earned international stardom in Disney’s High School Musical franchise and has gone on to tackle challenging adult fare including The Paper Boy and The Lucky One; Miles Teller, whose recent starring role in The Spectacular Now put him at the top of many filmmakers’ wish lists; Michael B. Jordan, currently amassing awards and nominations for his work in the acclaimed drama Fruitvale Station; and British actress Imogen Poots, who turned in three memorable performances in 2013 in Filth, All is By My Side and The Look of Love.
Efron, who plays Jason, the guys’ unofficial ringleader, initially attracted Gormican’s attention in the 2009 teen comedy, 17 Again. “Zac is a really magnetic performer,” says Gormican. “When he’s on screen, you can’t stop watching him. He’s one of the most charming movie presences I’ve run into. It’s very difficult not to like him.”
In the film, Jason is doing his best to avoid any emotional entanglement with the girls he sleeps with, relying on his connection to his best friends to fill the void. “When you have a character doing some pretty unpleasant things, as Jason does, you need someone who has abundant charm,” Gormican says. “There are only a few actors who can pull that off. Zac is able to put Jason on the fine line between someone you should hate and someone you can’t help but like.”
Like his two male co-stars, Efron is just 26 and finds a great deal to relate to in Jason’s need for freedom. “Jason and Daniel are young and carefree,” says Efron. “This is their chance to do anything without the commitment of a long-term relationship. But that means that when Mikey’s marriage is on the rocks and he comes to his best friends for help, they don’t really know what to do or say. They just figure it’s time to have fun like they used to. It’s a great time until it just gets crazy.”
The craziness starts with the pact, as the three friends pledge to foreswear serious relationships and stay single for as long as possible. But the agreement, which was meant to keep life simple for them, quickly makes things more complicated, as each finds himself at a crossroads in his life that he never saw coming.
Jason’s downfall takes the form of Ellie, a whip-smart blonde with a sardonic sense of humor that matches his own. “She’s very sweet, incredibly intelligent and really driven,” Efron says. “But when they spend the night together, he starts to notice some really odd things about her and he bails in the middle of the night. And then she ends up in Jason’s office for a presentation. He can’t believe it’s her, and after he confesses what he thought and begs for forgiveness, they start to develop a real relationship.”
But Jason feels the need to hide the relationship from Daniel and Mikey, never realizing they are hiding secrets of their own. “And we all handle it in different ways,” says Efron. “Jason is confused and afraid of becoming attached or getting his feelings hurt. And since he was the mastermind behind the pact to begin with, he feels like he needs to live up to it pretty rigorously.”
Efron took his executive producer’s chores as seriously as he did his acting responsibilities. When it came to casting the roles of Jason’s confederates, Daniel and Mikey, he knew that chemistry between the three friends was paramount and lobbied hard for Teller and Jordan, two players he felt would bring a combustible energy to the trio’s often hilarious freestyle exchanges.
Jason’s longtime comrade-in-arms, Daniel, as played by Teller, is an even more extreme commitment-phobe than Jason. Daniel is apt to use his outrageous sense of humor to keep feelings—and women—at a distance. “He’s about maintaining his single status at all costs,” Gormican says. “But once he does get into a relationship, he’s probably the sweetest guy you could imagine.”
Casting Teller in the role was a no-brainer, says the director. “I love his sense of humor, I love his delivery and I love his style. I love the fact that he is absolutely and totally the most prepared person. I tried to keep a pretty firm hand on the script, with some rewriting as I went, but Miles was always able to hammer in a line or two. That’s inevitable—you can’t stop him.
“And I love the fact that he’s comfortable being a jerk. It worked perfectly. But you can also see that Miles is an incredibly sweet guy who understands how to work with women in a romantic role. I think he’s one of the few performers that could actually pull this off.”
The actor describes his character as the kind of guy who signs up for J-Date—even though he’s not Jewish. “Daniel’s in a league of his own,” says Teller. “He’s looking for love, in a very casual, relaxed way, like bumping into it at a bar. He’s not looking for anything too serious and he lets the girls know that. His attitude seems to make women a little uncomfortable at first, but then they start to like it, and the cat gets the mouse.”
Teller is always willing to poke fun at himself in his work. “Vanity is the last thing an actor needs,” he says. “These guys have flaws. Daniel spends a lot of time with his foot in his mouth. Even though we’re telling girls that we’re being very open, maybe that’s not always the case.”
Like Efron, Teller is also enjoying the freedom that comes with being young and unattached, though perhaps not to the extent that Daniel takes it. “When you are in your 20s, that’s the time to be a little selfish,” he says. “You’re not married. You don’t have kids yet. It’s a time of self-discovery. Once you get married, your wife comes before you. Once I have a kid, my kid comes before me. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking some time when you’re young to live it up a little bit, because you never get that back.”
And then there’s Mikey. Mikey has the kind of life Daniel and Jason aspire to—just not now. “These guys are all attracted to very smart, confident women with their own things going on,” says Gormican. “That dynamic can drive people apart. Mikey’s story is all about that. He’s a resident at a hospital, working long hours. His wife is on a partner track at a law firm. Those are the things that take people away from each other.”
He’s also a man who loves being in a relationship. “I’ve always had a friend like that,” says Gormican. “He’s the sort of adult in the room. I thought it would be an interesting thing to have him start dating his ex. Once all of the pressures and complications of the marriage disappear, all of a sudden it becomes fun again for them—until reality creeps in.”
Michael B. Jordan, who plays Mikey, has carved out a niche for himself as a talented dramatic actor, but That Awkward Moment is his first foray into big-screen comedy. “Michael B. can break your heart on screen,” says Gormican. “I’ve seen that in everything that he’s done so far. We asked him to be the dramatic anchor of the film, but he also has undiscovered comedic chops. I firmly believe that he can do anything he sets his mind to.”
The character is different from Jason and Daniel in certain essential ways, points out Jordan. “Those guys are great friends to Mikey, but they are not upfront at all with women. They’re not looking for anything too serious. Mikey’s marriage is ending after five years and his friends try to get him back into the dating scene, when really all he wants is to make it work with his wife.”
The actor says his favorite scenes in the film are when the three friends are alone together. “We are just talking and nobody’s listening. There are no girls around. We are free to just be 20-something guys with all that entails. It’s the locker room talk.”
And the first woman to crack the locker-room door is Ellie, who is smart, independent and no more interested in a commitment than the boys are.
“I find that most people in their 20s in New York are very career-focused,” Gormican says. “It’s a transitional time and Ellie’s an example of that. She’s fresh off her master’s degree, working at this publishing company and she’s out to prove herself. But at the same time, she’s not afraid of meeting someone and falling for them, the way Jason is.”
Imogen Poots, who began her film career as a teen in the 2004 thriller V for Vendetta, plays Ellie as one of the guys, albeit a bit more levelheaded.
“Ellie is different from anybody Jason has ever met,” says Efron. “She is bright and ambitious, but also easygoing and laid back. She doesn’t seem to have a problem with the way these guys handle themselves with women. She even agrees with it, in a sense. Jason’s taken aback, because she is a curveball that’s he’s not ready for.”
Gormican sees Ellie, as embodied by Poots, as the ideal girl for someone like Jason. “If a guy had a chance with Imogen and screwed that up, I’m pretty sure he would regret it for a very long time,” he says. “The more you spend time with her and the more you talk to her, the more you’re struck by how unusual she is. That’s exactly what happens to Zac’s character. He’s drawn in further and further, until he’s at a point where he can’t deny the fact that he really wants to be with her.
“Imogen’s not a traditional casting choice for this type of movie,” says the director, “but her quirkiness works here. She has really odd timing and an unbelievable comic sensibility, as well as a total connection to her role.”
When Jason rescues Ellie from a well-meaning but extremely boring suitor in a bar, it’s clear that their mutual bent for the absurd has them well-matched. “He’s a breath of fresh air for Ellie,” says Poots. “There’s an instant connection. He is self-deprecating and very witty, without any sort of ulterior motive. She makes a decision to have some fun and they end up spending the night together. And then he flees for the silliest of reasons.”
When they meet again in Jason’s office, Ellie turns up the heat during his presentation, but never loses her cool. “What I like the most about their dynamic in the film is that she never gets angry at him,” says Poots. “She’s just disappointed. He keeps digging himself a deeper and deeper hole. And her attitude is, “Well, what’s the actual big deal here? I thought that was pretty hilarious.”
Working with three such talented and diverse actors was rewarding, says Poots. “Zac and Miles and Mike are so terrific. They give wonderful performances. And the characters really provide a cross section. Jason is able to be sensitive to other people’s opinions, whereas Daniel is quite self-centered. He has some wonderful one-liners and Miles has the ability to say the weirdest, strangest things that leave everybody crippled with laughter. Then, Mikey is just a wonderful character. He has his life more together and is often baffled by the behavior of Daniel and Jason. I think that mirrors Michael B.’s personality. He’s so well-mannered and sophisticated at all times, which shines through his character as well.”
The fact that the young actors all became close prior to filming helped their onscreen chemistry, according to Gormican. “We didn’t have a ton of rehearsal time,” he says, “but we were able to take the cast away for a long weekend in the Adirondacks, where they became friends, whether they meant to or not. We read through the script once or twice, but it wasn’t about rehearsing. After four days, we came back with a lot of stories to tell and a shared experience, which was really helpful.”
For Poots, the weekend included a life-changing discovery. “It was full of hanging out and drinking hot chocolate and having s’mores,” she recalls. “S’mores are something that I find extremely exciting, given my lack of an American upbringing. It was really lovely.”
When they returned to New York, the bonding continued, with Efron, Teller and Jordan conducting extensive “research” in the New York environs that the film was set in. “The guys were all living together and hanging out together,” says Gormican. “They were going everywhere, and the girls would come along, the entire cast gathering for nightly dinners.
“This was the most fun I’ve ever had filming a movie,” says Teller. “We’re hot dudes. We’re filming in New York. How could it not be fun? “
In the Lab NYC
That Awkward Fox Interview
Links of unembeddable things, misc text: E Online at the NYC Red Carpet, ET Canada, BT Movie Preview Show, and gurl.com zac's dating tips, WSJ Premiere Notes (no Zac really)
Also NY Daily News at the premiere after party:
A sober Zac Efron partied at Maison O on Kenmare St. Wednesday night. The teetotaling star’s night out followed the premiere of his movie, “That Awkward Moment,” at the Sunshine Landmark theater. He was a very good boy, spies at the downtown hot spot tell us. “He wasn’t drinking; he said he misses drinking, but that he’s done,” says one tipster. Efron was hanging with a small group and we hear he hightailed it out of there at a reasonable hour.
People: 'I'm in a Great Place' After Rehab
"I'm so happy. I feel like I'm in a great place and I'm glad that I'm really here to share this moment with everybody and be present for all of it," Efron, 26, told PEOPLE at Tuesday's That Awkward Moment press conference in New York City.
"It was an interesting year. I learned so many things. So much," he said. "The best part of it was being able to reflect upon that experience and realize how much I have learned about myself and the kind of man I want to be."
With a new sense of direction, the actor added that he is thrilled to be reuniting with his That Awkward Moment costars and good pals Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller.
"This movie, these guys and coming back to it and to New York – just being here in this moment, it just kind of exemplifies it," Efron said. "I couldn't be happier. I'm in a great place."
Variety: 'Michael B. Jordan, Zac Efron, Miles Teller Are ‘Animals,’ Jokes ‘That Awkward Moment’ Director'
“The best part about the movie is it stops Miles Teller from talking for two hours,” Gormican told the aud before Jan. 22′s Sunshine Landmark screening while his leads Zac Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan whooped and cracked jokes.
“The cast did their own stunts,” Efron shouted. “Planking.”
“Masturbation. Yeah, I said it,” quipped Jordan.
“They’re animals. All of them,” Gormican joked about his cast — and now friends — at the Maison O after party.
Gormican took the boys and Imogen Poots on a bonding trip to the Adirondacks before filming.
“At the end of the day, we’re driving back from Manhattan and I felt like the guys had known each other for a long, long time, and that made my job easier,” he said.
Vanity Fair: 'In Which Zac Efron Tries to Convince Us He’s Not Good At Talking to Women'
So at the premiere on Wednesday, VF Daily asked Efron if, in real life, he’s any good at talking to women. “Um . . .” Efron mumbled. “I don’t . . . I don’t know how you gauge . . .”
We prodded. Are you confident and cool? Or are you a nervous wreck when talking someone up? “Uh . . . I don’t know,” Efron replied slowly. “I’d say I’m just a regular . . . I’m not very good, no. No, no.”
“I don’t believe one word of that!” said a woman nearby who overheard the conversation. “You know what, I mean, it depends what the girl brings to the table,” Efron told her. “You’re interesting to talk to; I’d have fun talking to you.” (“Yeah. I’m old enough to be your mother,” the woman responded.)
Imogen Poots, who plays Efron’s love interest, says he’s pretty smooth. “With Zac, it wasn’t ever really that awkward. He’s a pretty easygoing guy,” Poots told us.
How did first-time director Tom Gormican assemble such a stellar cast? “You know, these were the specific guys that I wanted the entire time. They happened to have banner years, all of them, things that I couldn’t have predicted, that worked out better than I ever could have imagined,” Gormican said. “And I’m doing my part to try to derail that for them, I guess,” he added, laughing.