Thanks to her longtime devotion to hot yoga, which helps her deal with anxiety and sleep issues, Alexandra Daddario thought she was ready for her close-up when she was cast as a lifeguard in the film adaptation of Baywatch.
“To do this, I thought I was in great shape,” she tells Yahoo Style.
Spoiler alert: She had major work to do. She started training with co-star Zac Efron’s fitness guru, which was body-changing. It entailed weights, TRX straps, resistance bands, and sweating at the gym up to five days a week.
“It was hard, and the more I did it, the more changes I saw in my body, the better I felt,” she says. “I had real abs. I’ve always been thin. I’m very lucky that I never had a weight issue, but I wasn’t strong. Now I had actual muscles for the first time in my life.”
Which meant that the first time she pulled on her Baywatch suit, she felt fantastic. “I had worked really hard to get where I was, so it was fun. It was a cool thing,” she says.
For her, but not for everyone.
“When I was younger, you struggle with what you look like, your confidence,” she says. “I found a place of confidence in my life. We all are gorgeous in our own ways. Just do you. If you don’t want to wear a bikini, then don’t.”
Daddario was born and grew up in New York City, and got her big break playing Annabeth Chase, the daughter of the goddess Athena, in the Percy Jackson films; and Blake Gaines, the daughter of the rescue helicopter pilot played by Dwayne Johnson, in San Andreas. Baywatch is her second film with the Rock, and San Andreas 2 is in the works for next year. “That would be my third movie with the Rock. That’s the coolest thing ever. That’s something you have something written on your tombstone. He’s completely genuine and honest.”
And she knows how to yuck it up in Baywatch, a star-studded comedy featuring the Rock, Efron, and Priyanka Chopra in co-lead roles. “Part of the joke is that all the characters are supernaturally good-looking and take their jobs way too seriously. It was equal-opportunity hotness. Caricatures of dumb women — that’s not funny.”
To hear Daddario tell it, the same applies to the entire cast. She especially bonded with the ladies, including fellow lifeguards Ilfenesh Hadera and Kelly Rohrbach. Lo and behold, there was not a single spat.
“I love them so much, truly, as people, as role models, as women,” she says. “It’s such a cliché: cat-fighting, jealous women. I’ve found it to be completely not the case. I’ve found there to be more ego battles among men. In this cast, everyone was fantastic, boys and girls.”
She’s also finding her fashion footing, wearing silver Azzaro Couture to the film’s world premiere, donning a leg-baring Alberta Ferretti look for the MTV Awards, and stepping out in an ultrasexy Vivienne Westwood frock to the Billboard Music Awards.
On that last look, Daddario spills some dressing details. “I turned the skirt around. I duct-taped myself in. My boobs are normal. They sag a little bit and you need to lift them up. I was terrified that the whole situation would come apart,” she says. “I’m trying different things. I like to do things that are fun and colorful and not necessarily that tight-fitting.”
If Daddario seems centered, it’s because she is. Once she hit her 30s, she connected with her true self and started to know herself better. She started to do yoga, to meditate, “because I want to have a nice boyfriend and a nice career.”
Speaking of romance, she plays Zac Efron’s life interest in the comedy. And of course, that’s launched countless rumors that the two are dating. For the record, the stories are just that.
“It’s not annoying. I understand why people think that. We’re very good friends. It’s nice to think that I used to be very nerdy and I’m cool enough to be dating Zac Efron,” says Daddario. “Zac Efron is never the kind of guy I would have gotten in high school.”
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