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Zac Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan talk about "That Awkward Moment"

Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan and Zac Efron play best friends in "That Awkward Moment."
Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan and Zac Efron play best friends in "That Awkward Moment."
Focus Features

There are not a lot of romantic comedies that with dating and relationship from the male perspective. “That Awkward Moment” is a “bromantic” comedy that gives moviegoers a glimpse inside the mindset of young twenty-something men when it comes to those topics. Zac Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan play three best friends who make a pact with one another to not get in a relationship. However, it is easier said then done as they all find themselves falling in love with the women they have seeing recently while trying to keep it a secret from each other. I had the chance to participate in a press conference a couple of weeks ago that featured the film director’s Tom Gormican and the stars of the film.

Let’s talk a little bit about what it was like to bring every one together to make the film.

Tom Gormican: Well, first we wrote the script, we got to Zac and I had never met him before but I was like, “Hey. It’s Zac Efron. I would love to make this movie.” He came on board and that was the push forward to making it. Then we chased these two guys (Jordan & Teller) down and convinced them to do it. That was that. In terms of like making the movie, if you’ve seen anything about these guys, they’re all fantastic actors.

Michael B. Jordan: Very well put!

What really attracted you to this project in the first place?

Zac Efron: I was in Cannes at the time, and I recognized something that was authentic to guys now and to this generation that I hadn’t seen before. For me, romantic comedies have this sort of stigma. It felt like the only sort of thing that I could do but didn’t because I didn’t like how many of them (romantic comedies) have been made recently. Tom wrote a really cool movie and I recognized a lot of my own life in it. It was also that I recognized a lot of values that I saw in my best friends. I knew that I don’t know if we found the right best friends that I could help do something special with it.

Gormican: I feel like we did. I don’t know how you guys feel about it, but we found the right guys.

Jordan: It was a change of pace for me compared some of the more dramatic stuff that I’ve been doing. I didn’t want my mom to see me die anymore. It was just enough so it was the perfect opportunity to play a character that’s a little less stereotypical. Shot in New York, close to my family, and shooting with Zac and Miles, who I think are extremely funny, and I really respect Tom’s sense of humor. It would be a safe place to kind of take a risk and experiment with the comedic side. So it just worked out for me.

Miles Teller: I was bummed I didn’t get “Fruitvale” because it was down to the final two. For me, the script came to me and that year, I had already filmed three movies. I met Tom at a bar for a mutual friend’s 21st birthday and she introduced us. We took some shots of tequila, hit on girls and just did the thing. Tom was like, the next day, “Hey, I wrote this movie and I think you would be perfect for the part of Daniel” and then I thought the script was really funny with a lot of heart. I’ve done some comedies maybe that didn’t have the heart in it so I thought it would be a lot of fun to work on. It was an indie film, and apart from supporting independent films, it was just a really good script.

Speaking of “The Spectacular Now” and “Fruitvale Station,” 2013 was an unnaturally strong year for movies, and you three have been in three of the best movies, of last year with “Fruitvale,” “Spectacular Now” and “At Any Price,” which actually made my top tem. What were some of your favorite films from last year?

Efron: Oh man.

Teller: I’m having such a hard time thinking…

Jordan: “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”…

Gormican: “The Great Beauty,” “Anchorman 2”…

Jordan: Don’t sleep on “Anchorman 2”! Ron Burgundy was amazing.

Efron: I don’t know. I just watched “12 Years A Slave” and I just can’t get it out of my head. I thought it was so incredible.

Teller: Was “Dallas Buyers Club” last year? Yeah? That was my favorite film because just watching two incredible actors completely give themselves to a story is a sight to see.

Gormican: “Mud”…

Teller: "Mud" was really good!

Gormican: “Frances Ha”! That’s another great one. Did you guys see Miles struggling to think of something he wasn’t in? (laughs)

Zac how did it feel to not only star in this movie, but also serve as an executive producer?

Efron: It was great! As an executive producer, I came into this and the only thing I was capable of doing at this point was bringing great people around me. Tom really helmed this whole thing. I just backed him up in whatever he wanted to do. I was able to help with casting and I’m still figuring this out as I go. I’m very proud of this being the first film I was an executive producer on. The production company was going for years, but it was hard to find material that was authentic and worth making. There was so much out there but for some reason it was hard to find something that I really wanted to make. Finally this on came and I was like “Yes, dude! We can really do something here!

You guys have some great one-liners in this movie and play off of each other really well. Did you guys get any chance to improvise?

Efron: Tom didn’t write a word of it! (laughs) Just kidding…I would say 90% of what you saw on screen was on the script. Tom wrote it. There are moments that you just can’t deny. Good actors give you gifts every once in a while and if one of these guys do something funny, you just can’t help but to go with it and react naturally and put that stuff in.

Gormican: There are a few lines here and there that are improv, but we shot in 24 days. It was a lightning shoot. We didn’t really have time to improve, but I would’ve loved to.

Teller: I really wanted to!

Gormican: I know you did.

Efron: I can’t believe how well the movie looked so real and how the soundtrack feels. We shot it in New York during the coldest time of the year. No trailers. No jackets. I look back and it’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.

Gormican: We were sitting outside for sixteen hours in the dead of winter and they’re all wearing Fall clothes.

As far as doing independent films and studio movies, which one would you say you prefer doing?

Jordan: Both.

Teller: You really have to do both.

Jordan: With indies, you get down to the nuts and bolts of acting and politics of the bigger films. They have so much they need to address. You’re not worried about putting people in every seat. It’s about the script and the project, but you love the opportunity to do bigger films and go to strange foreign locations. That’s definitely a plus side.

Teller: Independent film making is very collaborative at least in the ones I’ve worked on. You feel like it’s you, the director and other actors and you really feel like you have the final say. When you do the bigger films, the studio has to give the final thumbs up and they’re usually not big on risk taking because they’re trying to make money. Everyone is trying to make money, but really there are just more people you need to please in a studio film.

Efron: My forever mission is to take the best elements of both commercial and independent films and bring them together. I think that’s what we tried to do. We can. I learned so much about the art of what we do from independent films and I have so much fun in commercial ones. I don’t know, I think that a mix of both is good. I would say you’re obligated to do one or the other.

Teller: Unless the studio has options on you and you kind of have to do like big pictures, then you’re sucked in and you have to do everything like golden handcuffs.

In the movie, Jason has a line that says, “They call us the selfish generation”, but I think what works is because you feed off of each other’s energy and you’re not selfish. Do you think we are in fact the selfish generation?

Teller: I think we’re entitled. In our generation, we get a trophy just for playing. Our parents told us to go out there and do anything. They instilled this heightened sense of self, but now there are a lot of kids graduating, economy sucks and dreams are getting crushed daily. People don’t know how to deal with it.

Jordan: People are self-made. There’s no job market out there so you realize you have to get out there and do it ourselves by getting on YouTube.

Teller: People just want to be famous. They want to do this reality show thing that we’ve created.

What was the hardest day for you guys while filming?

Teller: These cold walk and talks were hard because it was so cold and we need to get it all in one take. It’s hard to get anything done in one shoot. Filming in New York, there’s a s--t ton of paparazzi because of Zac and there’s a ton of fans. I’ve never experienced anything like that AND it’s New York city so you’re there as the city is breathing all around you while you’re trying to finish the scene.

Efron: Every single job from the ground up is hard to film in the cold in New York. Having me there complicates things, no doubt about it, but I would say that I don’t want to be the city cam operator out there in the freezing cold during those walk and talks. Some of those were incredibly difficult. Sneaking into places they weren’t supposed to be in. We never broke the law (laughs), but that’s also what’s exciting:, those hard days. You get the beautiful things in New York, which we got out of those difficult things. Those are the moments you cherish. That’s what’s so cool about New York and what we do.

It took you 24 days to film, how long did the post-production take? Also, how much did Zac help as the executive producer?

Gormican: The post-production process. I had great producers and they gave me the time I needed to finish the film in six plus months. I hope they’re all satisfied with the outcome, but it was a long process.

Efron: It was also fun to check in and look at what Tom was doing too. For both of us, it was really the first time and it was very unique to listen to a guy speak about day-to-day problems in the editing room and what were the self-imposed rules that you broke. It was neat to me. I felt like the whole thing was dangerous.

Gormican: One of the dangers is thinking that you know how everything works. You get into the edits and the editor gave me about a month and a half to basically destroy the movie (laughs). I eventually figured out how it worked and we built it back up. It was a steep learning curve.

Teller: You didn’t look healthy during the editing process. I would pass by and it just smelled and you looked like you hadn’t slept. He was in the editing room for 16 hours a day.

Gormican: Well…one doesn’t recover easily after dealing with you guys! (laughs)

That Awkward Moment” is now playing in Hialeah theaters. Click here for showtimes

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