Garry Marshall’s new movie New Year’s Day is set in New York City with intertwining stories which culminate at midnight on the most dazzling night of the year.
One of the most interesting narratives spotlights Ingrid, a meek and unassuming middle-aged woman, who has made out her list of unfulfilled New Year’s resolutions, quit her job, which was at the top of the list, and embarks on a quest to cross off as many of the rest of them as she can by midnight. She is assisted by a young bike messenger named Paul, who provides the transportation and the imagination to make her dreams come true.
Michelle Pfeiffer and Zac Efron, who worked together in the successful musical Hairspray, portray Ingrid and Paul, and they spoke with us about the movie and their plans for the upcoming holiday.
Can you talk about playing a non-glamorous role like Ingrid?
Michelle: I’ve actually done that a lot, I really like it. I think the thing I love most about acting is just disappearing in a role as much as I can.
I think that was one of the things that intrigued me about it, and just trying to figure out who is this woman who’s lived in New York City all of these years and never been to any of these places [was fun].
How was it working together again?
Zac: I met Michelle a few years ago doing Hairspray, and had a huge crush on her from day one.
Back then I was very young and very bashful and around her I tended to put my foot in my mouth a lot.
I didn’t really know what to say to her, and everything just came out wrong.
Then I got to talk with her on the phone about this part, and she said, ‘I think we should take this to the next level. We should really push it, let’s get a kiss in there.’ I was like, ‘I am in, sign me up, let’s do it.’ And it turned out to be awesome.
It was lovely working every second with her.
Michelle: I’m the envy of every girl across the planet, I think. Yeah, I got a kiss in there with Zac Efron, which was clever of me at the ripe old age of 53. When I had signed on to do the picture a pretty impressive cast was assembling, but Paul was not cast yet.
Then I heard that Zac was possibly doing it and he called me and I screamed and yelped in the middle of this very quiet class I was taking.
We had so much fun and he’s so collaborative and so talented and I loved his Paul and that goofy haircut he showed up in. We didn’t really talk that much before we showed up [on set] and I think he was a little disappointed when he opened my trailer door and there sat Ingrid.
His little face just kind of fell and I felt really bad, but I think probably the sweetest thing about him was he never let on and he still won’t admit how disappointed he was.
Zac: She looked absolutely stunning.
Michelle: But he grew to love her anyway.
Is the role that you played anything like you in real life?
Michelle: When I read this part I said, ‘Who is this person?’ I think I talked to Garry and said, ‘Come on, this woman has been living in New York for 30 years and she’s never been to any of these places?’
Then I realized I’m actually very much like her. I sort of came to that conclusion during this press junket.
We were sitting together talking and Zac is Paul and I’m Ingrid, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, Garry knew and I didn’t.’ That happens quite a bit actually, I don’t realize how much I’m like the characters until years later.
Zac: I thought it was really fun to play with Michelle because I basically got to push all of her buttons. Paul’s is a little self-absorbed
Michelle: He’s a narcissist.
Zac: Yes, he’s narcissistic. I’m digging a hole here, I guess I’m a narcissist.
Michelle: You’re actually fun-loving like Paul. I would not call you a narcissist.
Can you talk about the confetti scene in Times Square? It seemed like it was troublesome, ending up in the actors’ mouths?
Zac: Yes, every actor performs three scenes in a movie. There’s the one that you rehearse the night before in your bedroom. Then there’s the one you actually get to do when you’re filming, and there’s the one you wish you would have done afterwards.
In my hotel room the night before, I imagined how I was going to kiss Michelle, and it was awesome, I was the man in every way. It was glorious, the confetti started to come down, there was electricity, there was a big dip!
Then I went to execute it on the day and right when I got to the crucial moment, a huge piece of confetti went right into my mouth. It was in our eyes, it was everywhere.
Michelle: Yeah, it wasn’t sexy.
Zac: Yes it was, I thought it was awesome.
What is your favorite way to spend New Year’s Eve and do you have any special plans this year?
Michelle: I never make it to midnight. I celebrate New Year’s at 9 p.m. west coast time. I watch the ball drop [in Times Square] in my pajamas with some champagne, maybe some pie, whatever happens to be around. I stopped setting those unrealistic expectations for New Year’s Eve many years ago.
Zac: We’re going to change that, because you’re coming out with me this year!