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CHARLIE ST. CLOUD

About The Production
From Page to Screen: Charlie is Found

Author Ben Sherwood's second book, "The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud,” was released in 2004 to critical acclaim and has been translated into 15 languages. The Washington Post proclaimed: "The Sixth Sense meets Field of Dreams in this heartwarming, old-fashioned fable,” while Booklist raved: "Uniquely lyrical, Sherwood's story of a devotion so strong it transcends death is mystical, magical and moving.”

The novelist crafted his unconventional sophomore effort after a deep loss of his own. "The book came from two very personal places,” reflects Sherwood. "First, the sudden and unexpected loss of my father and the accompanying feelings of profound sadness and being frozen in place and not even realizing how much of an impact that grief can have on one's life. Second, the liberating, transformative power of love—the way in which love can unlock so many things and give you the strength and motivation to move forward with your life.”

To Sherwood, the first part of this story was about fulfilling a sacred promise to a loved one. As he imagined "Charlie St. Cloud,” he asked himself: "What happens after an accident when two brothers make a vow never to leave each other, and then the paramedics are able to save one but not the other? What happens to that relationship then? And what if one of them could keep that promise to the other?” He sums his premise as: "It's about a bond between two brothers that can't be broken.”

Producer Marc Platt recalls his interest in Sherwood's novel: "The story is challenging because it's open to interpretation as to what's real and what's not. You don't want to overly sentimentalize notions of loss and love. Yet, cinematically, you want the story relatable and accessible, so there's a very delicate balance to strike.” As he looked for a performer to play the lost young man, Platt knew he "wanted to find someone with the humanity and charisma that this character possesses, but who wouldn't be dour and sorrowful.”

The producer first met Zac Efron during the performer's High School Musical period. Even then, the charismatic young actor impressed him. But when they connected a number of years later, Platt was struck by his maturity. "He was free of any pretense,” recalls Platt. "Zac emanates such humanity and compassion. It was very inspiring to see a young man without any affectation, with a burning desire to work hard and take risks as an actor. As we talked, he related his family history and told me about his younger brother, whom he feels so close to.”

Platt acknowledges that this is a much more mature, dramatic role than Efron has tackled up until now. But Efron was game for the challenge, diving into Charlie St. Cloud's world with passion and commitment. "He's got tremendous skill as an actor,” commends Platt. "And he's worked so very hard to develop this character and understand his subtext.”

When the producer handed him the script, Efron felt an instant connection to Charlie St. Cloud. He recalls: "There was a familiarity, a lot that I could relate to and a lot that I recognized in Charlie. It reminded me of the way I connect to my younger brother. I thought Charlie's relationship with Sam was real and honest, and I admired the qualities that I saw in him. I thought they were very heroic.”

But Efron knew that portraying this complex lead would be a challenging exercise. The actor notes: "It was interesting to step into Charlie's shoes and play a guy who's down on his luck, who feels numb and doesn't think he has much to live for.” He laughs: "I tend to play characters who are more energetic, full of life and dance a lot. But Charlie is very different. The role was a 180-degree change,

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