zac efron and emily ratajkowski talk tripping through vegas

We caught up with the EDM king and queen of Max Joseph’s coming of age summer banger, 'We Are Your Friends.'

by Tom Ivin and Tish Weinstock
27 August 2015, 3:00pm

Titled after the 2006 dance banger by electronic duo Justice, We Are Your Friends is a coming of age tale about a small town DJ with big dreams. Striving to create that one perfect song, 23-year-old Cole Carter (played by High School Musical hunk Zac Efron) embarks on a rollercoaster ride of sex, drugs and pulsating beats. Taken under the wing of a superstar DJ played by Wes Bentley, Cole seriously ups his game on the decks. But of course, it wouldn't be a true coming of age story without a fall from grace, and sure enough, things around Cole start to crumble. He falls in love with his mentor's girlfriend (played by Blurred Lines babe Emily Ratajkowski) and loses one of his close friends. The first feature film from Catfish's Max Joseph, We Are Your Friends is a refreshing take on romantic drama, with Instagram-ready visuals and a seriously dope soundtrack.

Max, We Are Your Friends is your first feature film. How was that?

Max: It was really fun, it was super intense and stressful and all those things, but we all had a good time. It's a dream come true to me.
Zac: Max really set the tone. There was such an enthusiasm behind what he was doing; he was like, 'I know we're rushing, I know we're stressed, I know we're behind, but we can do it.' We had a bunch of really, really hardworking soldier-like actors who were up for trying anything. During lunch breaks, instead of eating food, me and Max would shoot a scene that wasn't even in the script. We broke like every rule.
Emily: Don't let the Union know!

It looked so fun to make, I left the cinema wanting to get high, go dancing and sleep with somebody. What was it like creating such a free-spirited environment?
Zac: It was great, definitely so fun to make. It was exactly what you said.

Emily, you play Zac's love interest, Sophie. What attracted you to the role?
Emily: I love Sophie because there are not many female roles in Hollywood who aren't just an idea that men have of women, like "oh she's the nerdy girl" or "she's the hot girl" or whatever. I liked Sophie because she was all those things at the same time. I was excited to play the role of someone you might actually meet rather than a Hollywood idea of a female.

What about you, Zac?
Zac: I loved going on Cole's journey because I could personally relate to it on many levels. His friends reminded me of my friends. I lived a slightly younger portion of my life in the Valley with some young actors -- not necessarily club promoters -- who were trying to hustle in and get by before I truly honed it in and found my calling, I guess. There was an authenticity to it and it was exciting to play Cole.

I know it's your job to act a certain way, but your DJing skills were very impressive. How much research did you put into it?
Zac: Well Max handed me a book that was about 800 pages long and was about the entire history of DJing… I didn't read it.

Just looked at the pictures, right?
Max: Exactly! But no, I read it, and Zac really worked tirelessly for three months with a DJ in LA. I remember even when we came back to Vegas, we had these two big scenes to film and everyone was just exhausted, but to Zac's credit, he gave up sleeping time to rehearse the final climax of performing scenes. Those are really complex and complicated movements. We didn't want just general knob twists, because it's very easy to fake it; we wanted to make sure that everything he did, you'd see the effect of it.
Zac: The fun parts were nailing the specific moments of authenticity with the DJing. You actually have the right notes being hit on the keyboard or the right effect being turned and transitioning happening at all the right times. We really nailed that.

I thought the visuals were really cool and original, especially during the house party scene where Zac is tripping out. Did you know what the movie would look like in your head before you started filming?
Max: To a certain degree, yeah, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted. But for some scenes, I just wanted a lot of footage to cut between. The energy of the Vegas scene, I wanted it to feel very documentary and free and shaky, we're just voyeuristically watching them go and dance and run through Vegas. I knew that through the photography and all the really cool angles we were getting that something would come out of it with the right energy. I'm really proud of that sequence, it's my favorite.

Ok, last question, what are you all working on next?
Emily: I'm not supposed to talk about it…
Zac: I'm starting Neighbors II.
Max: I'm starting another series of Catfish.

Zac: That show is just getting nuts, dude.
Max: It's a bizarre odyssey into humanity. A lot of the film came out of Catfish, though, because we see a lot of young kids in their early twenties and all their different life experiences.

We Are Your Friends is in theaters today. 

Emily Ratajkowski
Zac Efron
we are you friends