This story follows two brothers: Ward Jansen (played by Matthew McConaughey), a reporter for the esteemed daily newspaper, The Miami Times and Jack Jansen (played by Zac Efron), a recent college dropout who lives in a small town in central Florida with their gutless father, W.W. Jansen (played by Scott Glenn). When Ward shows up with his writing partner, Yardley Acheman (played by David Oyelowo), to investigate a story for their paper, Ward asks Jack to drive them around. The reason Ward is in town is that Charlotte Bless (played by Nicole Kidman), an enigmatic loner who writes to prisoners on death row, has convinced them that Hillary Van Wetter (played by John Cusack), an unsavory alligator hunter from the backwoods, was wrongly convicted at a trial that took place near their hometown.
As the investigation unravels, it becomes clear that these brothers are on a journey that is filled with betrayal. The only thing that remains constant is that there is this strange, beautiful woman who falls in love with killers and her passion could be everyone's downfall.
It's 1969 and Jack Jansen (Zac Efron) is at a crossroads in his life. He's dropped out of college and moved back to his childhood home in Lately, Florida, where his dad, W.W. Jansen (Scott Glenn), runs the local paper, The Moat County Times. When his brother, Ward (Matthew McConaughey), an esteemed reporter for The Miami Times, arrives in town with his writing partner, Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo), to investigate the trial of Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack), Ward asks Jack to be their driver. Since Jack delivers their father's newspapers around the county, he knows the area like the back of his hand.
Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman) is the reason that Ward & Yardley are investigating this unsavory alligator hunter, Hillary Van Wetter. She is convinced he was wrongly convicted and contacted The Miami Times, in hopes that they would send ace reporters who can prove Van Wetter's innocence and get him off death row. Ward & Yardley are in search for 'the story' that can further launch their journalism careers and hope to expose the corruption and discrimination in central Florida, if indeed, Van Wetter was wrongly convicted.
From Jack's perspective, Charlotte Bless is nothing like any other woman he has ever known. Since his and Ward's mother left them so long ago, his knowledge of the opposite sex is relegated to the time he hangs out with their housekeeper, Anita (Macy Gray). Chauffeuring Charlotte Bless around central Florida with his brother & Yardley is becoming a great pleasure of Jack's.
But as this unlikely foursome spends more and more time together, facts in the case are becoming murkier and murkier, just like the swamps that surround Lately, Florida. Hillary Van Wetter refuses to cooperate and Charlotte Bless is sending mixed signals to everyone-especially to Jack. Ward, too, is becoming more secretive as they get further into this investigation. As for Yardley, he's showing his true colors-he's conniving and opportunistic.
One night, after drinking too much at a bar in Daytona Beach, Ward gets beat up in his hotel room by some hustlers. While in the hospital recuperating from his horrendous injuries, Yardley writes and submits the story, proclaiming Van Wetter's innocence, which infuriates Ward because he wasn't convinced that they had facts to prove that Van Wetter was wrongly accused. Regardless, the published article results in exactly what Charlotte Bless wants: Van Wetter is released from jail.
Now, everyone and everything can return to like it was before. It's just that now things seem worse. In fact, for Jack, he realizes they are much, Much Worse.
Filmed around New Orleans, the Louisiana locales doubled as Florida of the late 1960s. Principal photography began on August 1st and wrapped on September 15th, 2011. The production was financed by Millennium Films.
Pete Dexter is a modern day American novelist whose previous books include Paris Trout, a book that won the 1988 National Book Award for Fiction and was made into a movie for Showtime, starring Dennis Hopper & Barbara Hershey and Deadwood that became HBO's critically acclaimed series, starring Ian McShane & Timothy Olyphant. In 1995, when he published The Paperboy, the book earned rave reviews from critics around the country, landing on the New York Times' Bestseller list and winning the Literary Award by the Pen Center the following year. The New York Times Book Review called The Paperboy, "An eerie and beautiful novel. Its secrets continue to reveal themselves long after the book has been finished".
Director/Screenwriter/Producer Lee Daniels, who earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Director for "Precious" in 2009, chose "The Paperboy" as his next feature film to direct. A talented filmmaker, with an appreciation for offbeat stories who also produced the Oscar-winning "Monster's Ball" and "The Woodsman", offers, "I read Pete Dexter's script and loved it! I was attracted to the story; it was another type of 'coming-of-age story.' And I liked the idea of giving voices to these characters we don't ordinarily see, but we know exist in the underbelly of today's society".
Thanks to the critical acclaim he received for "Precious", Director Lee Daniels attracted such A-Listers as Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, Academy Award-winner Nicole Kidman and John Cusack to be in his movie. He also landed David Oyelowo, Macy Gray & Scott Glenn to round out the cast of interesting characters in this off-the-wall story set in central Florida in 1969.
Matthew McConaughey, fresh off the success of The Lincoln Lawyer, offers, "I was a fan of Precious and was looking to work with Lee Daniels. When I read this role, it excited me. There was a shock value to it- I've never done anything with this much shock value as that of 'Ward.'"
Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman, most recently nominated for her performance in last year's "Rabbit Hole", says, "I loved Precious so much, so when I heard Lee was directing this, I got sent the script. I was already signed on to do another movie, but they said they could shoot me out in three weeks. When I read it, I thought 'what a great character!' and called Lee to say 'I'm in if you can make the schedule work!'"
Scott Glenn, currently starring in the "The Bourne Legacy", who was on vacation in Hawaii with his family when he got the call, offers, "Before I read the script, I knew it was going to be directed by Lee Daniels. Since I had seen Precious, I just wanted to get into the sandbox and play with whoever did that movie because I thought it was such a remarkably beautiful and brave film. I knew that the guy who shot Precious was incapable of giving anything a cheap shot and that the script was going to have an original take".
As for Grammy Award-winning Macy Gray, who has been selective in what movies she acts in, the last being "For Colored Girls", compliments, "I'm a huge fan of Lee Daniels and I trust his ideas and taste in movies, so when he asked me to be in the movie, I read the script and couldn't stop reading it once I started. It's an interesting story that hasn't been told before with all these weird twists to it. It's a thriller, a mystery, a very demented love story; it's just very, very off and very fascinating".
She smiles, "I think it's going to be a really great movie".
Regarding David Oyelowo, who appeared in two of the box office hits this past summer, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and the critically acclaimed "The Help", he considers, "I've known Lee through a number of projects we've tried to get off the ground. Since in the original Pete Dexter novel, 'Yardley' is not Black, Lee rewrote it with me in mind because he was also very interested, being a Black man himself, how a Black man in the South in 1969 adds another layer. With all these layers, it made it very clear to me that this would be very, very interesting territory for telling a story".
Zac Efron, a teen idol known around the world for High School Musical and who is expanding his repertoire of dramatic roles, plays 'Jack,' the character whose eyes are how the audience views this strange world of 1969 central Florida. When he read the script, Efron offers, "The first time I read The Paperboy, my initial reaction was 'wow.' It was intense, especially with the way this movie ends. It blew me away. It's a big journey for a young man and it was full of all these twists and turns. It goes to some very dark, twisted places and very funny places, too, but at the end of the day, it was shocking".
As for Director Daniels' take, he offers, "I am honored to work with this cast. They had to be fans of Precious because the characters I wanted them to play are unique. They're sort of the underbelly; ones that we don't see often on the screen".
Producer Hilary Shor ponders, "The fantastic group that we have here is a testimony to a lot of things, but mostly it was about working with Lee and an opportunity to work with him after 'Precious.'" She adds, "I think everyone also saw an opportunity to do something really great.
The A-List Cast Enjoys Lee Daniels
As filming progressed, the actors loved the process of making a movie with Director Lee Daniels.
Matthew McConaughey considers, "Lee is always looking for something different. He's always saying, 'That's a perfect way to play it; that's understandable. Now let's just flip it on its head and see what happens when we back into the scene walking on our hands,' so to speak".
He continues, "He likes to say, 'What would be an unexpected way of playing but still be true to the character?' There's a lot of fun to be had in that and at the same time it's fun for me to find ways to give him what he's looking for and still be true to 'my man,' my character".
Nicole Kidman reflects, "I've worked with lots of talented directors so I'm used to an unusual vibe and an unusual way of working. Lee is unusual. He has to feel everything. Our first day of filming was kind of wild-- and I love that! On the fly, grab what you can grab-there's abandonment to that! For me that's being an actor and I love the feeling that it's kind of like rebel filmmaking".
John Cusack offers, "I sort of understand Lee. He's a scratching, clawing artist. Actors are that way, too, in that they don't have all the answers, but we try to follow feelings into places, go into unknown places in our psyches. Lee actually has the headspace of a performer in that way".
David Oyelowo proposes, "What's very unique about Lee as a director is his ability and his desire to 'push it.' He figures out your comfort zone with the scene and then he'll push. It almost seems to me as if he sees it as a personal challenge to push you within an inch of your talent. He works with people he believes in and then he's very good at getting unexpected performances out of them and unexpected to the actor as well".
Oyelowo continues, "That is something that I'm very thankful as an actor because you want to be pushed, you want to play a character that you didn't know was within you or within your ability. Lee is definitely a director who gets you there".
Macy Gray says, "I think anyone, no matter how experienced you are or how new you are, can learn a lot from Lee. It's just the kind of person he is and the kind of movies he does. He's very good at telling a story and getting everybody on the same planet he's on and making a real piece of art. His fearlessness is really, really infectious. You get around him and suddenly you feel like you can go do this weird stuff that he wants to do".
She laughs, "It's crazy!"
Zac Efron ponders, "Lee is sort of a genius when it comes to understanding what makes us real people, what makes us tick and he's great at figuring out relationships. There's so much that even in just a conversation that happens with Lee is not in what you say, it's what happens in the spaces in between. His understanding of That, I think, is what makes him such a powerful director".
Scott Glenn, the eldest of the cast who plays the patriarch of the Jansen family, smiles, "After one of the days working with Lee, I called my wife and said, 'I just finished having one of the most fun days of acting in a movie in ten or fifteen years!'"
He explains, "I had some ideas that were pretty outrageous; I mentioned them to Lee and he essentially said, 'that's really good; can you go further with that?' By the end of the day, that stuff had become a part of the scene-much more because of his contributions than mine-but it all had become part of the scene and I felt like something was alive and growing and not just 'here we go again.'"
Director Lee Daniels considers, "I love actors and I love good material. I like being in the moment, smelling a room, knowing my environment and pushing actors to their limit".
He laughs, "And I'll push actors over the edge if they allow me. I get off on it until they're like, 'Lee, Stop it!!!'"
All of the actors are playing characters that today's audiences wouldn't expect them to be.
Nicole Kidman offers, "I love it when we get the chance as actors to do things that we wouldn't necessarily be cast in initially-that doesn't correlate to our persona, so to speak. That's what acting is. It's transforming and changing and trying to find a truth within yourself to play somebody that would seem to be polar opposite to who you are".
She considers, "Everyone is doing stuff that is different for them in this movie".
Matthew McConaughey agrees, "There are some great characters that were written in the script; very specific characters. There are no two characters that are really even close in being on the same frequency which allowed for each actor to really create some great characters through themselves".
He elaborates, "There's been a lot of freedom on this set. A script like this draws this kind of talent for a reason. I think everyone has something character-wise on the page to become very excited about and everyone shared ideas openly. If someone had a good idea, you could steal it and the person being stolen from is more flattered than the person who got to steal it. That is really how a good, fun, creative set runs and that's a really fun and creative way to work. We got to do that on this movie".
John Cusack offers, "Everybody jumped on board for the same reason: these are great parts. Any actor would read it and just want to do it. All of us are lucky to get the call".
He continues, "We're doing if for the purity of the story and letting the story sort of take you there. There's no reason to really do it unless you want to put your whole soul into it. That's Lee's thing and actors feed off of that. If you're going to do it, you have to go all the way".
David Oyelowo demurs, "I consider myself very new and green to this game of acting even though I've been doing it for a while. When you have actors like Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, Scott Glenn, Macy Gray, Zac - who is also incredibly accomplished - for me it's like a game of tennis. It raises your game when you get to play with people who are better than you".
Scott Glenn maintains, "The thing about all this cast, including Matthew & Macy whom I've either worked with directly or kind of, are surprising. No one is doing anything that you'd call 'predictable' but it all feels spontaneous, organic and happening in the moment-so it's good".
Zac Efron, the youngest cast member who is the eyes of the audience as the story unfolds, contemplates, "For me, coming into this movie and working with actors of this breed, of this caliber, this sort of style, you have to be ready for everything. Every relationship I have with each actor is different as are 'Jack's' relationships with every character in the movie. As much as I get to sit and observe and really watch and kind of take in these actors, you also have to be ready for what they are going to throw at you. Doing scenes with Matthew is very different than doing scenes with Macy-I could go on for days about all of them!"
Kidman admits, "We all were relying on each other to come to the table with our characters alive, thinking, breathing and able to react in a scene. That's beautiful when you work like that; that's true ensemble acting".
Producer Hilary Shor considers, "Lee allows his team to have a space that allows them to be free-whether it's a scene that is 100 people, or just a scene with someone on the phone. He has control of his vision, yet he releases that control because he has faith in his team. That type of collaboration can be the most creative and most fun-it has been for me!"
Director Lee Daniels smiles, "This cast is far from chopped liver. Working with them all was magic. Everyone was on the same syllable and things happened day to day. We knew each day where we were going to start, but then we would turn here and ended up somewhere else".
When it came to his behind-the-scenes team, Director Lee Daniels was as selective as he was with his cast. Cinematographer Roberto Schaefer, ASC, AIC, who shot the Academy Award-winning "Monster's Ball" which Daniels produced and his editor from "Precious", Oscar nominated Joseph Klotz were able to reteam with him on "The Paperboy".
Cinematographer Roberto Schaefer, ASC, AIC, offers, "Lee has a really magical way with the actors and the story and dialog pieces. He sees things so differently; it's very organic. Even the most mundane scene, Lee finds something exciting. He's always saying 'Have fun with it!'"
As for how Daniels approached the look of the film, Schaefer explains, "The dictum that Lee gave at the very beginning was that he wanted the movie to actually look like it was shot in 1969, so no steadicam was used because steadicam didn't exist in 1969. We shot on Super 16 with anamorphic lens so it's got a lot of grain, a lot of textural quality".
Editor Joseph Klotz, who earned his first Academy Award nomination as Editor for his work on "Precious", says of Daniels, "Working with Lee is quite the wild ride. It's fun because Lee loves to laugh and play, bringing an incredible enthusiasm to the edit room".
Since he has already worked so closely with Director Lee Daniels on "Precious" and now they are working again with "The Paperboy", Editor Joseph Klotz considers, "People like to work with Lee because he likes it to be real and raw. The artifice is stripped away".
He continues, "It's also challenging because he brings challenging, raw material, stuff on the edge. He takes huge risks and pushes it to the wall, so you have to know when to back off and when to go for it".
Director Lee Daniels hired Production Designer Daniel T. Dorrance, who designed the sets for Playing The Field, directed by Gabriele Muccino, hitting theaters in March 2012 and Costume Designer Caroline Eselin-Schaefer who has collaborated on many productions with Director Wim Wenders, including "Don't Come Knocking", starring Sam Shepherd and Jessica Lange. He chose each of them to help bring to life his idea of central Florida in 1969.
When it came to creating the look wanted by Director Lee Daniels, Dorrance maintains, "Lee really did his homework for what he was after so I knew exactly what I had to do to provide for the camera. I was impressed with the amount of research that he did for what he was after 'look-wise.' His input was a lot of films he'd seen in the 1970s".
As for the working relationship, Production Designer Daniel T. Dorrance laughs, "Working with Lee Daniels is crazy! I told my wife every night, it's like Lee is always going to throw me a curve ball every morning-I'm not sure what it's going to be. It definitely keeps you on your toes and keeps you thinking ahead, trying to outthink him".
Costume Designer Caroline Eseline-Schaefer was also under the gun during filming. As for working with him, she describes, "Lee said early on to me, 'Caroline, I want you to have a party.' Then the whole process with Lee became so collaborative. It's wonderful, it's refreshing-- it can be crazy as shit sometimes, but that's what's been so exciting to work with Lee. He has a wonderful attention to detail-he's thought about every ice cube in the glass-and you get guided by it".
She continues, "You have safe directors and then you have directors that really want to push and Lee is not afraid to push. It's about pushing the characters, finding those nuances that are specific-sometimes skewed, but it's a fresh take on things and he pushes. It's an absolute joy and honor to be a part of this movie; it's so inspiring".
As for the team that he carefully selected to work with him behind-the-scenes, Director Lee Daniels says, "It's my vision and I believe you hire department heads that you trust. I let them do their thing and then I know instinctively if something isn't right".
He continues, "My team is very opinionated and they stand by their opinions and they call me on my shit. It's my medium and they have strong opinions and I love them. Sometimes they're wrong, but mostly, they're right".
Producer Hilary Shor commends, "The production team on this film has been amazing. We gave them very little time and they were able to recreate the near and distant past and create the Lee Daniels version of 1969; I think our audiences are going to be very surprised by what they see in The Paperboy".
With Pete Dexter's award-winning novel combined with Academy Award-nominated Director Lee Daniels' vision, The Paperboy is a highly anticipated movie as the follow-up to the Academy Award-winning, "Precious". Add in the remarkable cast in roles audiences won't expect, this movie will be provocative, thrilling and entertaining on many different levels when it plays on the big screen.
Matthew McConaughey offers, "I feel this movie has some shock value in places that I think story-wise, character-wise, event-wise people will go 'Do What???' But, hopefully it'll all be consistent with the world that is created and the people you meet along the way".
David Oyelowo proposes, "It's partly thriller, it's partly a 'coming-of-age' story. But it has this 'swampiness' about it. We're here in the swamp and there is something sweaty and murky. Everyone has a secret; everyone has cards that they're holding close to their chests as the story unfolds. You get to know these people as their human behavior reveals itself more and more-that is something very unique".
John Cusack, a fan of the novel, surmises, "These characters are very human creatures who roam earth. They're not particularly heroic; they're just human. They inhabit that sort of Florida of a darker version of Carl Hiaasen or Elmore Leonard with Pete Dexter's tone and then Lee mixed it up with some of his thing and he's taken it into his direction and made this other thing out of it".
He admits, "This guy, 'Hillary,' is like the guardian of the threshold of the unconscious. He's this very strange character. In movie language, he's the 'bad guy,' but in tragic language, he's some sort of otherworldly creature who is initiating 'Jack' in some way. This is definitely the juiciest role I've had to do of a guy possessed by darker forces".
Zac Efron considers, "'This is very much a real 'coming-of-age' story. 'Jack' is learning from each of these very important people in his life and that's how I felt coming into this. I came in as a blank slate. I've only done a few things; I'm still learning what it means to make a movie, to be an actor. This cast was challenging me on all different sides and in different way and being somebody different, very personal, very specific for me and sort of pushing all my buttons".
He continues, "I'd be furious one second and inconsolable the next and then just laughing hysterically-that's how like life is. When you're young, you're very emotional and very passionate. That's what I got to do every day and be this guy and just learn. I was like a sponge; it was amazing".
As for Nicole Kidman, she offers, "I think Charlotte is a beautiful, kind of tragic, wonderful woman. I hope that gets to be put onto the screen. One thing I said to Lee is 'I love her and I want that to come across.' It's also lovely that Lee took a chance and said, 'Yea, I believe you can do it,' because most directors wouldn't believe I can do something like this".
With the movie now in post-production, Director Lee Daniels considers, "It's a ride. You are thrown into the abyss and you are out there and in it. I like doing movies where we've gone and chartered new terrain".
He contends, "The Paperboy is where you'll be in a place that you've never been before, a place you've never seen and you'll explore situations and people in a way I've never seen before on screen".
Director Lee Daniels pauses, "It's a coming-of-age story with a little murder, investigation, thriller, sexual-it's something!"
Matthew McConaughey (Ward) is one of Hollywood's most sought after leading men whose films have grossed over a billion dollars at the box office. He is a Texas native who originally, while attending the University of Texas in Austin, planned to be a lawyer. When he discovered the inspirational Og Mandino book, The Greatest Salesman in the World, before one of his final exams, he suddenly knew that he had to change his major from law to film.
McConaughey began his acting career in 1991, appearing in student films and commercials in Texas and directing short films. It was a chance meeting in Austin with casting director and producer, Don Phillips, who introduced him to director, Richard Linklater, where he got cast as 'Wooderson' in the cult classic "Dazed and Confused". McConaughey has appeared in over 40 feature films since then and has become a producer, director and philanthropist all the while sticking to his Texas roots and philosophy.
Over the years, he has portrayed an athlete, a police officer, a football coach and a lawyer and has worked with Hollywood greats such as Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Sandra Bullock and Al Pacino to name a few.
McConaughey most recently starred as 'Mick Haller' in the legal thriller, "The Lincoln Lawyer" adapted from the hit novel series by best-selling author, Michael Connelly. McConaughey just wrapped production on two indie films, "Bernie", "Killer Joe" and Steven Soderbergh's "Magic Mike". Exact release dates have not been set.
McConaughey starred as 'Connor Mead' in the hit romantic comedy, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, opposite Michael Douglas and Jennifer Garner and appeared in the ensemble cast of Ben Stiller's wildly successful action comedy, Tropic Thunder. Earlier, he headlined opposite Kate Hudson in "Fool's Gold", for director Andy Tennant. He also produced and starred in Surfer, Dude, a comedy that featured music from recording artist, Mishka.
In 2007, McConaughey portrayed real-life college football coach 'Jack Lengyel' in the critically acclaimed drama "We Are Marshall", the inspiring story of a small West Virginia town's struggle with devastating loss.
Previously, he starred in the action adventure comedy "Sahara", with Penelope Cruz and Steve Zahn. He earned a People's Choice Award for his role in the film, which opened at the top of the weekend box office and marked the first major motion picture produced by his production company, j.k. livin productions. McConaughey followed with a starring role opposite Al Pacino in the drama "Two for the Money" before closing 2005 as People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive".
Additional film credits include: the popular romantic comedies "Failure to Launch", with Sarah Jessica Parker and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, opposite Kate Hudson; the sci-fi adventure Reign of Fire, with Christian Bale; the ensemble drama Thirteen Conversations About One Thing; the horror thriller Frailty, written and directed by Bill Paxton; and Adam Shankman's hit romantic comedy The Wedding Planner, opposite Jennifer Lopez.
McConaughey also starred in the World War II action drama U-571, Ron Howard's EDtv, Steven Spielberg's Amistad, Robert Zemeckis' "Contact" and Joel Schumacher's critically acclaimed courtroom drama "A Time to Kill", as well as Lone Star, Angels in the Outfield, The Newton Boys and The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
McConaughey's production company, J.K. livin productions, produced the feature documentary Hands on a Hard Body and is currently in development on numerous projects with various studios and production companies.
In addition to his film career, Matthew also takes the time to give back. In 2008, he started The just keep livin Foundation which is dedicated to helping boys and girls transform into men and women through programs that teach the importance of decision making, health, education and active living. The just keep livin Foundation has partnered with Communities in Schools in West Los Angeles to implement fitness and wellness programs in two large, urban high schools. CIS is the nation's largest, non-profit, dropout prevention organization. Through the j.k. livin afterschool program, they are able to give kids a healthy start in life and the promise of a healthy future.
Nurturing an impressive body of work that encompasses film and television, Zac Efron (Jack Jansen) is one of Hollywood's most promising talents as his career continues to evolve with exciting and challenging projects. Efron has received ShoWest's Breakthrough Performer of the Year award, an MTV Movie Award for Breakthrough Performance (2008) and Best Male Performance (2009) and multiple Teen Choice and Kids Choice Awards.
He next will be seen in New Year's Eve, the ensemble piece directed by Garry Marshall, due for release this December. Efron recently finished working on Warner Bros., The Lucky One, a film adaptation from the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name which tells the story of a Marine who returns to North Carolina after serving in Iraq and searches for the unknown woman he believes was his good luck charm during the war. It's due for release in April 2012.
Efron's other starring roles include Universal's Charlie St. Cloud, based on the acclaimed novel of same name, Warner Bros. "17 Again", which was #1 at the box office when it opened in 2009, "Me and Orson Welles", an adaptation of the period coming-of-age novel by Robert Kaplow, which debuted to rave reviews at the Toronto Film Festival in 2008 and the box office smash hit, "Hairspray", which won the Critics Choice award for Best Ensemble as well as being nominated for a Golden Globe and SAG Award for the impressive ensemble work in the film.
Recognized around the world for his role as 'Troy Bolton' in Disney's High School Musical, when High School Musical 3: Senior Year, the third installment of the extremely successful "High School Musical" franchise opened in movie theaters, it set a box office record as the highest grossing opening weekend total for a musical. As the break out star of the Emmy Award-winning Disney Channel phenomenon, "High School Musical", when "High School Musical 2" debuted on television, it broke cable television records as it garnered 17.5 million viewers.
Efron's other television credits included a recurring role on the WB seriesSummerland, guest starring roles on The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, ER, The Guardian and C.S.I. Miami. Additionally, Zac starred on stage in the musical Gypsy and has appeared in productions of Peter Pan, Mame, Little Shop of Horrors and The Music Man.
A native of Northern California, Efron currently resides in Los Angeles. He recently started his own production shingle and has several feature film projects in development.
Nicole Kidman (Charlotte Bless) first came to the attention of American audiences with her critically acclaimed performance in Phillip Noyce's riveting 1989 psychological thriller Dead Calm. She has since become an internationally recognized, award-winning actress known for her range and versatility.
In 2003, Kidman won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA Award and a Berlin Silver Bear for her portrayal of 'Virginia Woolf' in Stephen Daldry's "The Hours". In 2002, she was honored with her first Oscar nomination for her performance in Baz Luhrmann's innovative musical, Moulin Rouge! For that role and her performance in writer/director Alejandro Amenabar's psychological thriller, The Others, she received dual 2002 Golden Globe nominations, winning for Best Actress in a Musical.
She was awarded her initial Golden Globe for a pitch-perfect, wickedly funny portrayal of a woman obsessed with becoming a TV personality at all costs, in Gus Van Sant's To Die For and has been nominated three additional times: for her performances in Jonathan Glazer's Birth, Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain and Robert Benton's Billy Bathgate.
Most recently, Kidman starred opposite Aaron Eckhart in Rabbit Hole, for which she received Academy Award, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Actress. From David Lindsay-Abaire's own screenplay adaptation of his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Rabbit Hole was developed by Kidman's Blossom Films production company and is directed by John Cameron Mitchell. She will next be seen opposite Nicolas Cage in Joel Schumacher's "Trespass" as well as in HBO's Hemingway and Gellhorn with Clive Owen. She is currently filming Stoker this fall in Nashville.
Kidman's additional film credits include Noah Baumbach's Margot at the Wedding; The Golden Compass with Daniel Craig; Academy Award winning animated musical Happy Feet; Just Go with It with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston; Rob Marshall's film adaptation of the musical Nine with Daniel Day Lewis, Penelope Cruz and Marion Cotillard; Baz Luhrmann's World War II love story, Australia, with Hugh Jackman; Steven Shainberg's Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus with Robert Downey, Jr.; Sydney Pollack's The Interpreter with Sean Penn; Nora Ephron's Bewitched with Will Ferrell; Robert Benton's The Human Stain with Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris;, Lars von Trier's Dogville with Paul Bettany and Lauren Bacall; Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut with Tom Cruise; Jez Butterworth's Birthday Girl with Ben Chaplin; Mimi Leder's The Peacemaker with George Clooney; Jane Campion's The Portrait of a Lady with John Malkovich; Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever with Val Kilmer and Jim Carrey; Harold Becker's Malice with Michael Keaton and Alec Baldwin; and Ron Howard's Far and Away. She also narrated the documentary release (Sundance Grand Jury Award and Audience Award-winner), God Grew Tired of Us and the film biography of Simon Wiesenthal, I Have Never Forgotten You.
Kidman made a highly-lauded London stage debut in the fall of 1998, starring with Iain Glenn in The Blue Room and David Hare's modern adaptation of Schnitzler's La Ronde, for director Sam Mendes and the Donmar Warehouse. For her performance, Kidman won London's Evening Standard Award and was nominated in the Best Actress category for a Laurence Olivier Award. The Blue Room moved to Broadway for a sold-out, limited run from November of 1998 through March of 1999.
In January of 2006, Kidman was awarded Australia's highest honor, the Companion in the Order of Australia. She was also named and continues to serve, as Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM, whose goals are to foster women's empowerment and gender equality, to raise awareness of the infringement on women's human rights around the world and to end violence against women. For the past nine years, Kidman has served as the UNIFEM Ambassador for Australia.
Most recently, Kidman has lent her voice in support of the Women's Cancer Program at Stanford with Dr. Jonathan Berek. Along with her husband, Keith Urban, she helped to raise nearly half a million dollars for the Women's Cancer Program which is a world-renowned center for research into the causes, treatment, prevention and eventual cure of women's cancer.
With an impressive body of work spanning over two decades, John Cusack (Hillary Van Wetter) has evolved into one of Hollywood's most accomplished and respected actors of his generation, garnering both critical acclaim as well as prestigious accolades for his dramatic and comedic roles.
Cusack will next star in Relativity Media's The Raven where he portrays the infamous author, 'Edgar Allen Poe,' due for release on March 9th 2012. He is currently filming in Alaska on the independent thriller,The Frozen Ground opposite Nicolas Cage, which is based on the true story of serial killer, Robert Hansen.
In 2010, Cusack starred in Hot Tub Time Machine, an R-comedy centered on a group of adult men who are transported back in time to 1987. When he starred in the apocalyptic thriller, 2012, that was released in 2009, the international blockbuster went on to gross more than $766 million worldwide. Prior to that, Cusack wrote and produced the political satire, War Inc. with Dan Aykroyd, Marisa Tomei, Hilary Duff & Joan Cusack and voiced the lead in MGM's animated feature, Igor.
Other important credits for Cusack include Grace Is Gone, which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, winning the Audience Award, Dimension Films' box office hit 1408, the dark comedy The Ice Harvest, Runaway Jury, starring with Hollywood legends Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman and the controversial film, Max, which Cusack also produced and garnered strong reactions at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival when it debuted.
Some of his earlier feature films include Con Air from director Simon West, Clint Eastwood's "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", the World War II combat epic, The Thin Red Line, directed by Terrence Malick, Mike Newell's comedy Pushing Tin and the political thriller, City Hall, among many other films. In addition, Cusack has worked twice with Woody Allen on "Shadows and Fog and Bullets Over Broadway. Cusack also starred in several romantic comedies, including Serendipity, with Kate Beckinsale, America's Sweethearts, opposite Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Billy Crystal and Must Love Dogs with Diane Lane.
Cusack first gained the attention of audiences in the 1980s by starring in a number of teen classics such as Sixteen Candles, The Sure Thing, Stand By Me and Say Anything. As he expanded his film repertoire, starring in Broadcast News, Eight Men Out, The Grifters, True Colors, The Road To Wellville, Grosse Pointe Blank, Being John Malkovich and High Fidelity, where he received a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actor, Cusack successfully shed his teen-heartthrob image.
David Oyelowo (Yardley Acheman) - pronounced 'oh-yellow-oh'-graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), having received the 'Scholarship for Excellence' from Nicholas Hytner in 1998.
Since then, Oyelowo has crossed 'the pond' and established himself as an actor to watch. This year alone, he has several movies out, including Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, starring alongside James Franco and "The Help", with Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. He next will be seen in Red Tails, the story about the heroic Tuskegee Airmen who fought in World War II, which will be released in January 2012.
In addition, he's appearing in several independent films this year, including 96 Minutes, that premiered at the 2011 SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Default, a thriller directed by Simon Brand and Ava Duvernay's The Middle of Nowhere. Oyelowo is currently working with Director Steven Spielberg on "Lincoln", starring Daniel Day-Lewis and will next segue from that movie into Nina, opposite Mary J. Blige.
He first impressed audiences in The Suppliants at the Gate Theater playing 'King Palasgus,' for which he received the Ian Carleson award commendation. Following this, he played the title role of "Henry VI", becoming the first Black actor to play an English king for the Royal Shakespeare Company. The role won him the Ian Charleson Award and an Evening Standard Award nomination. Other theater credits include an acclaimed performance in Richard Bean's "The God Brothers" at the Bush Theater and the title role in Aeschylus' "Prometheus Bound", which was off-Broadway for which Oyelowo received rave reviews.
Beyond theater, Oyelowo starred in the BAFTA award-winning series, Spook/MI-5, which also aired in the US on BBC America. Additionally, he won the Royal Television Society Award for Best Actor and was also nominated for a BAFTA for the same role for his work on Small Island. In addition, Oyelowo starred in the BBC1 original television movie, Born Equal, opposite Colin Firth, as well as ABC's production of A Raisin In the Sun, alongside Sanaa Lathan and Sean 'Puffy' Combs.
Oyelowo made his US debut in two HBO productions. He first starred in As You Like It, directed by Kenneth Branagh and then later as the lead in the miniseries, 5 Days. He returned to HBO when he appeared in "The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency", directed by the late Anthony Minghella.
His other noteworthy credits include The Last King of Scotland, opposite Forrest Whitaker and James McAvoy, Who Do You Love, A Sound Of Thunder, Derailed and The Best Man. He also appeared in BBC2's Shoot The Messenger which was nominated for Best Foreign Film and earned Oyelowo a Best Actor nomination at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008.
Scott Glenn (W.W. Jansen) has enjoyed an extensive career in front of the camera for over thirty years. Currently, working on The Bourne Legacy, he was last seen in Zach Snyder's Sucker Punch and Disney's Secretariat". Other recent credits include Nights In Rodanthe, Surfer Dude with Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and Willie Nelson and Oliver Stone's biopic, W., where he played the controversial 'Donald Rumsfeld.'
Glenn got his big break when he landed the role opposite John Travolta in the cult classic, Urban Cowboy. Other major film roles followed, including Robert Towne's Personal Best, John Frankenheimer's The Challenge, Philip Kaufman's The Right Stuff, Lawrence Kasdan's Silverado, John McTiernan's The Hunt For Red October, Jonathan Demme's Academy Award-winning The Silence Of the Lambs, Ron Howard's Backdraft, Edward Zwick's Courage Under Fire, Clint Eastwood's Absolute Power and Sofia Coppola's directorial debut, The Virgin Suicides.
A lifelong member of the Actors Studio, Glenn made a triumphant return to Broadway in Lanford Wilson's "Burn This" and off-Broadway in the critically acclaimed Killer Joe, for which he earned a Drama Desk Best Actor nomination and a special honor at the Drama League Wards presentation. He also starred in Arthur Miller's final play, Finishing The Picture, at the Goodman Theater in Chicago for which Miller wrote a scene for him.
Glenn has been married to artist, Carol Schwartz, since 1967. The Glenns are active supporters of numerous charities, including the Naval Special Warfare Foundation for families of fallen servicemen and the Delta Society that helps train and sponsor service and therapy dogs.
Multi-talented entertainer Macy Gray (Anita) is a Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, record producer and actress. Perhaps best known for her international hit single, "I Try", taken from her multi-platinum debut album On How Life Is, she has appeared in many movies, including Director Lee Daniels' directorial debut, Shadowboxer, in 2005.
Other acting credits for the busy performer are Training Day, Spider Man, Scary Movie 3, the remake of Around The World in 80 Days, with Jackie Chan, The Crow: Wicked Prayer, Domino and Idlewild. She also appeared in HBO's Lackawanna Blues and ABC's television drama, MDs. More recently, she starred in Tyler Perry's ensemble piece, For Colored Girls Only, with Whoopi Goldberg, Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose and Phylicia Rashad, among many others.
With five albums released since her debut in 1999, Gray has also collaborated with such artists as Carlos Santana on the track "Amore (Sexo)" and her song, Time Of My Life was featured on the soundtrack of the critically acclaimed film "8 mile" in which she was the only female artist. She also recorded Cell Block Tango/He Had It Comin' with Queen Latifah and Lil Kim for the Academy Award-winning "Chicago". In addition, the talented singer/songwriter's first single, Beauty In The World, of her fifth album, The Sellout, released in 2010, is featured in the series finale of the hit series, Ugly Betty.
Gray recently completed work on her new album, Covered, which was released in the spring of 2012.