Zac Efron and John Cena Commiserate Over Hosting ‘SNL’: Material Gets Thrown ‘Out the Window at the Very Last Minute’

The “Ricky Stanicky” costars also shared how they choose scripts, looking for what they read straight through rather than drifting off

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“Ricky Stanicky” costars John Cena and Zac Efron chatted with Collider about the movie, how they select projects to work on and just how nerve-wracking it is to host “Saturday Night Live.” Efron said of his time hosting the show, “We prepped all week and then they throw it out the window at the very last minute, and you just try brand new s–t. It was wild. I can’t believe any of it worked.”

Cena concurred after he shared his own hosting difficulties when he played frontman for ESPN’s ESPYs. Efron hosted “SNL” in 2009, while Cena hosted in 2016.

Earlier in the interview, Cena told the outlet that his process for reading scripts and selecting projects is pretty straightforward: “If I pick it up again and put it down again, it’s out.”

“For me, I don’t necessarily read it through the eyes of me. I read it as a story, and I love reading scripts as stories. I have a rule: if I put it down, I should think twice,” Cena said. “Like, I get in a good mindset when I pick it up. I know it’s what I want to do.”

“This is my story time, I enjoy reading. If I can’t get through 120 pages, no matter how many stage directions, if it’s not riveting and I put it down, if I put it down once I’ve got some second thoughts,” Cena said. “If I pick it up again and put it down again, it’s out. And that’s not to say it’s bad, it’s just to say it doesn’t move me. This was one where it’s, like, you’re through it and it’s over, and then you go again and it’s over, and then you start realizing, ‘Oh, I can be that.’ And then you start diving into that perspective.”

Cena revealed that, once he began reading the script for the first season of DC superhero show “Peacemaker” from James Gunn, he read through every single episode. Cena continued, “So when it’s something like that, when it’s got that gravity to it, this was an easy read. It’s like 115 pages of just pure comedy and heart.”

Efron agreed and explained, “If you know you’re up for a character, a specific one, you can kind of drift and start thinking about the motivation of the character or reading the lines out loud, and you’ll be stuck on the same page and never finish the script because you could be stuck on it for an hour thinking about what the scene is about.”

Both actors agreed that the script for “Ricky Stanicky” was an easy yes. Efron added, “It clicked. It was very well-written, and it was the kind of thing you just know Pete’s [Farrelly] gonna nail.”

Cena also spoke about the risks he took while making the film, particularly in terms of the impressions his character pulled off. He explained that the entire team encouraged him and “anytime you try something, you take a big swing, and if people make you feel uncool or like you’re not good enough, you’re never gonna do it again.”

“When you’re in an environment where they welcome the misses, and they’ll hang in there with you until you get something that’s passable, man, that’s where you can really grow as a performer and as a human being,” he added.”

“So, the costume department set me up not to fail,” Cena said as he spread around the praise. “The wigs and the makeup were great. Peter was great. They gave me about as much sizzle for my steak as I could have, and I’m grateful to everybody.”

In an interview with TheWrap published Friday, director peter Farrelly explained that now is the right time for the movie, which has been 15 years in the making, to be released. He explained, “This script got better and better and better. There were flaws. Like, I look back now and I’m glad they didn’t make it 10 years ago, because it was thinner. And what we did now, we made it better.”


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