Baywatch Dwayne Johnson Zac Efron

In the new comedy Baywatch, the relationship between Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron's characters is what could best be described as 'caustic.' While the latter thinks he is god's gift to humanity thanks to his two Olympic gold medals for swimming, the former truly couldn't care less, and takes every opportunity to insult and make fun of him. It's a dynamic that persists throughout the entire film -- and it seems the reason is because test audiences just loved watching Efron get verbally beaten down. Johnson recently told me,

Here's the most fascinating thing that people have loved about the chemistry that Zac and I have -- specifically that Zac and I have in Baywatch: as we tested the movie, they loved Zac, and they know inherently that he's a really good dude. He's literally a nice guy! And he's been around long enough where you can tell who is nice and who's an asshole. But they love when I give him shit! It's like, 'We love Zac! But we love when DJ gives him shit!' So that's when we went in -- the High School Musical, and insulting him, and Malibu Ken...

Earlier this month I flew out to Miami, Florida for the Baywatch domestic press day, and while sitting down with Dwayne Johnson I learned all about his special back-and-forth with Zac Efron in the movie. Curious about the relationship, I asked the actor if he felt the need to buy his co-star a beer after a long day on set of constant insulting him -- and he explained why it is that Baywatch goes all in on Mitch Buchannon mocking Matt Brody.

The three examples Dwayne Johnson provided are just the tip of the insult iceberg, as the star also finds opportunity to call Zac Efron by the name of pretty much every boy band you've ever heard of. While some of these swipes surely originated in the script from Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, Johnson told me that a good amount of it was also improvisation from both himself and, believe it or not, Efron. Said the Baywatch star,

A lot of it was improv. A lot of it I would kind of throw out. And a lot of it Zac would throw out too, so... He knows how to take it. And he came to it like the rest of the cast: it's movie first. Whatever is going to make the movie great.

You can watch Dwayne Johnson talk about his back and forth with Zac Efron on the Baywatch set below!

Audiences will be able to watch Dwayne Johnson take Zac Efron down a hundred pegs this Friday when Baywatch arrives in theaters nationwide -- but be sure to also stay tuned here on the site for more from my interview with The Rock!

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