Belfast Telegraph

Zac Efron took inspiration from Justin Bieber for Baywatch role

Zac Efron has explained what it was like sitting next to Madonna at an Ultimate Fighting Championship fight.

Zac Efron was inspired by Justin Bieber's "cocky" persona when creating his Baywatch character. 

In the upcoming movie reboot of the famed '90s TV series about California lifeguards, Zac plays Matt Brody, a disgraced former Olympian-turned-lifeguard used as a PR opportunity to restore the team brand.

While critics have drawn comparisons between Matt and U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte, who "over-exaggerated" a report of being robbed at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, Zac insists that any likeness is a coincidence.

"We came up with this character entirely on our own. As the Olympics were unfolding, we were going, 'What the heck is going on right now!'" he said during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Wednesday (24May17), explaining that a certain popstar was the true inspiration.

"(I told the producers) I want to be the early Justin Bieber of swimming. It was that cocky (thing, he) messes up, but still has a good heart and you root for him."

During his interview, Zac, 29, also talked about the time he was sat next to Madonna at a recent Conor McGregor Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fight held at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The actor shared that it was pure coincidence that he was seated next to the superstar, who was caught on camera tapping him on the arm throughout the match.

"We talked, we hung out. Not only that, she like was legit into the fight," he recalled. "Dude, she was calling out things about the fight, like, 'Oh, he's got it locked in! He's going to choke him out'. She was having the time of her life," he stated, adding that Madonna was "lovely" and "captivating".

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