Fans got their first glimpse of former "High School Musical" star Zac Efron steaming up the screen in Nicholas Sparks' romantic drama "The Lucky One" in April, but as it turns out, that was just a warm-up for his sexy new role in the movie "The Paperboy." The film, directed by Lee Daniels, producer of Oscar-winning movies "Monster's Ball" and "Precious" and the director of "Precious," was screened at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday. Set in Florida in 1969, the movie features Efron as the younger brother of Matthew McConaughey, a journalist who's returned to his family home to investigate whether a man (played by John Cusack) was wrongly sent to death row. Actress Nicole Kidman plays the woman that Efron's character loves, although her character is obsessed with the inmate. She was described by one reviewer as "an oversexed Barbie."
However, it's Efron, 24, who is decidedly stripped-down for the film. Singer Macy Gray, who plays a maid in the movie, estimated that, "[Efron] was in his underwear half the time." At Cannes, director Daniels joked that Efron's barely-there clothing was his choice. "He's a good-looking guy," Daniels said. "And I'm gay. What do you want?"
On a more serious note, Efron confessed that he was uneasy shooting in such a skimpy wardrobe, but that was okay with him. "I don't think I was supposed to feel comfortable," the former boyfriend of Vanessa Hudgens said. "It's like life. This character is supposed to be learning the ways of the world, and that can be very uncomfortable. But it's also exciting." In one scene, for example, Kidman's character reportedly urinates on Efron to help him after a jellyfish sting. Talk about awkward!
Efron clearly enjoyed was working with the 44-year-old Kidman, who won an Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in 2002 movie "The Hours." "I've been in love with her for a long time — since 'Moulin Rouge,'" Efron said of the 2001 flick. "It was the loveliest time in the world for me."
"The Paperboy" is up for the Palme d'Or at Cannes, which is awarded to the festival's best film every year. But whether it wins that or any other award, something tells me plenty of people will be willing to check it out anyway!
More Celebrity Features on Yahoo!:
- Nicole Kidman Vamps It Up In 'The Paperboy'
- John Mayer: I Used 'Fifty Shades of Grey' to Pick Up a Woman
- Bruce Willis: I Don't Think I'm Very Good' at Acting
Check out "Starlicious," the online trivia game show where you can play along with the contestants and test your celebrity I.Q.!