Zac Efron stars in Warner Bros.' new romantic drama “The Lucky One” as U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault on his third tour of duty in Iraq. Almost immediately, he is thrust into a firefight that changes his life forever.
The role itself changed Efron, who literally had to transform himself physically and emotionally, to look, move and react like a Marine who had served in a war zone and seen far more violence and loss than his family or peers at home could even imagine.
Director Scott Hicks explains, “When we first see Logan, we need to know what he's gone through and understand some of the sense of trauma that he carries with him out of this conflict. I was very impressed by Zac’s commitment to not only change his physique but also to get into the mindset of a soldier. He created the slightly stony exterior of someone a little mysterious—a character we don’t know a great deal about at first.”
“Initially I wasn’t convinced I could pull this off,” Efron recalls, “but the more I thought about it, and the more I talked to Scott, I realized if there was ever going to be a chance to play a role so different from what I’ve played before, this was it. I knew I had to put in the work to be able to play Logan, and I felt capable in Scott’s hands.”
Producer Denise Di Novi says, “One of my favorite things about being a producer is watching actors reinvent themselves, and that’s what Zac did. He just looks like a different person in this film. How he walks, how he stands, how he holds himself…it was a thrill to see him become Logan.”
Producer McCormick concurs, “Even though he'd never done anything like it before, Zac was really able to bring a very specific and unique take on Logan. We literally saw somebody who's been so youthful in every other movie legitimately turn into a man in front of our very eyes. That really helped make Nick Spark’s character come to life. Apart from looking like a Marine, Zac brought a reservoir of pain and strength in equal measure.”
Efron’s preparation to play a seasoned Marine included the physical rigors of training several months prior to production with military consultant James Dever, a retired Sergeant Major who spent twenty-five years in the U.S. Marine Corps, and rising at 3:30 a.m. during filming to continue the regimen. That and a strict diet added 20 pounds of bulk to the actor. To complete the exterior metamorphosis, Efron buzzed his signature hair.
The internal work was equally, if not more, demanding. In order to get into his character’s psyche, Efron travelled with Hicks to Camp Pendleton to talk to Marines and see combat through their eyes.
Efron recalls, “When I got there it was like stepping into a different world. They stood with a purpose. They had laser focus, never broke eye contact. This is my generation, on the front lines. They’ve experienced some pretty gruesome things. We sat and talked for several hours and they were the most amazing conversations I've ever had with anybody. In terms of research, it was priceless. I can't thank them enough. The stories and personal feelings they shared became part of the canvas for Logan.”
“We took very seriously what these young guys go through serving overseas,” Di Novi remarks. “Zac respected it, absorbed it, really internalized it, and I think you see that on film. He does a great job in honoring those guys' experiences.”
Interestingly, a number of the Marines with whom Efron and Hicks met had a variety of good luck charms that they had carried with them into battle. Hicks describes, “One sergeant took out the remnants of what was barely recognizable as a playing card, which he'd taken with him on multiple tours. Once he’d lost it, which disturbed him deeply, but in the most extraordinary circumstances he found it again, quite by chance. The way he felt about it was very moving.”
Opening across the Philippines on Thursday, April 19, “The Lucky One” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.