Zac Efron on playing Nicole Kidman’s lover after Paperboy: ‘Nervous at the time’

Zac Efron was in a different frame of mind when he was courting Nicole Kidman on screen over a decade ago.

In 2012, the two men starred in Newspaper delivererin which Efron’s wide-eyed character falls for an older woman (Kidman) who is in love with an incarcerated murderer.

“We had so much fun doing it, but it was crazy,” Efron tells PEOPLE.

The two reunite in a lighter way for Netflix’s new romantic comedy A family matterThis time, Efron, 36, plays a selfish, relationship-challenged movie star who lashes out at the mother (Kidman, 57) of his personal assistant (Joey King, 24).

However, one thing remained the same regardless of the content on the page. “I’m still in love with Nicole,” Efron says. “There’s a part of me that pinches itself when I realize who I work with a lot. I think it was more pronounced during Newspaper deliverer because I was much younger. I was very nervous at the time.

Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman.

Jenny Gage + Tom Betterton

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As in their first foray, the two share intimate love scenes in A family matterbut they approached the subject with a familiar ease.

“It’s really helpful when you’re doing this kind of work together to already have a shared history, because it’s easy,” Kidman says. “We don’t work to create a story. So I don’t say, ‘Can I touch you?’ I feel incredibly confident in Zac. »

Efron adds: “We both feel safe and we care for each other.”

Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron in “A Family Affair”.

Aaron Epstein/Netflix

Reversing the scenario of typical May-December tales, A family matter initially caught the attention of both stars thanks to its original NSFW title, Mother—uh.

“For whatever reason, that storyline didn’t make the cut on Netflix,” Kidman says with a laugh. Efron adds: “But it kept the storyline at the top of the list. We wonder what it is about? »

Kidman calls the script, written by Carrie Solomon, a breath of fresh air in the romantic comedy space.

Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron in “Paperboy” (2012).


“We’ve had this problem for a long time with older men and younger women, it’s always been the norm – it’s okay, it’s perfectly acceptable,” Kidman says. “The problem is we haven’t had the equalization of all the points of view, with women telling the stories.”

She continues: “And we need gamers. (Efron) came in and made the movie because he was like, ‘I’m here to have fun, to play, and to really be a part of this and be there for you,’ for Joey and me.

On set, Efron worked double duty, completing intense workouts as he prepared to film the wrestling sports drama. The Iron Claw.

“A lot of the things I was doing in preparation kind of found their place (A family matter), says Efron. “Like the ice bath was right in front of my trailer. I did it constantly because I was in so much pain. »

“(Director Richard LaGravanese) came over to give me some notes during lunch and I was in the ice bath the whole time, shivering while he was telling me notes. He was like, ‘Man, we need to put that in the film.’ Then in the next scene we just enjoyed a 20 minute ice bath (scene with) Joey.

Did Kidman brave the frigid water? “I kept saying I would, and then I never did!” she says. Efron says with a smile, “I had it ready to go every day.”

A family matter is on Netflix June 28.

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