Jennifer Gibgot, producer of the new fantasy comedy 17 Again, told reporters that the filmmakers cast Michelle Trachtenberg specifically because she had no chemistry with star Zac Efron. Trachtenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) plays the teen daughter of Mike O'Donnell, a thirtysomething dad who finds himself magically transformed back into his 17-year-old self (Efron).
"It was really important to us in finding the girl that she had no chemistry with Zac," Gibgot said in a news conference this week in Beverly Hills, Calif. "There were certain girls that we brought in to read for that role, and we actually had to read them together because they literally wanted to jump his bones. So he and Michelle had no chemistry, so it worked."
Anything else would have been creepy: Trachtenberg's character makes advances on Efron's character, even though he's her father (sort of like Leah Thompson's teen Lorraine hitting on her time-traveling teen son, Marty [Michael J. Fox], in Back to the Future).
In 17 Again, executive producer Adam Shankman said the filmmakers sought a different kind of spark between Trachtenberg and Efron. "They had less overtly sexual chemistry," he said. "They had chemistry as people; they didn't have chemistry sexually."
For her part, Trachtenberg said that her immediate rapport with Efron eliminated any potential awkwardness. "I don't know," she said. "He's my daddy, and it's weird for a father and daughter to have sexual chemistry. Personally, Zac and I interact as brother and sister. Like, we update each other on our lives, and there's nothing like, 'Hey! How are you doing?'"
Trachtenberg added that the scene itself set the tone for their interaction. "I guess it was inherent, just sort of the second we met, there was a fantastic camaraderie, and, yes, he is a very sexy man," she said. "But I would hope when you're watching the scene where I'm chasing after my father and asking him to play bedroom games with me that you're really creeped out. Because if you're not, you should consult a physician." 17 Again opens Friday.