In "The Lucky One," the latest adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks bestseller, Taylor Schilling plays the owner of a rural Louisiana dog kennel who reluctantly hires and then falls for Zac Efron, a U.S. marine sergeant home from his third tour of duty in Iraq. The romantic drama features steamy summer nights and Schilling frustratingly rubbing dishes while gazing at Efron hauling huge bags of dog food around the property. When he reveals how he came to find her, Schilling doubts his true intentions while being unable to deny her own blossoming feelings.
The 27-year-old Schilling grew up in Boston and made her film debut in the Meryl Streep movie "Dark Matter" before landing her breakout role on the TV medical drama "Mercy." We got to know a little bit more about the lady Efron gets "Lucky" with on-screen when we sat down for a chat with the accommodating actress who seems game for any acting challenge.
A romantic drama like "The Lucky One" depends on its two leads having great on-screen chemistry. How did you and Zac Efron get to know each other before shooting?
I think that there is something intangible about that. When I first met Zac for my screen test, I felt so comfortable around him and we immediately hit it off. It was like meeting a new friend, and something you just can't describe. He is such a generous guy, it was really a pleasure and simple and easy. It was really fun -- there was no work to that. We just liked spending time together.
How big of a Nicholas Sparks fan were you before making "The Lucky One"?
"The Notebook" is one of my favorite love stories. I love going to see his movies with my girlfriends, crying and laughing. I'm a fan and thrilled to be a part of this project.
Was the TV show "Mercy" your very first acting gig?
It was my first real acting job. I had done two days on the set of a Meryl Streep movie, but I did "Mercy" when I was four months out of school. I read on tape in New York and the producer flew me out to L.A. to screen test for it.
Do people recognize you on the street?
That rarely happens. I can count on my one hand the number of times, but I was having lunch with Zac in New Orleans and someone came up and recognized me from "Mercy," and not him.
What is your dream role?
Whatever it is that I am working on is what I become obsessed with. It's hard to think about what that would be. It's less about genre and more about material. I'm just open to whatever comes next and hopefully "The Lucky One" will open doors to explore more material that speaks to me.
What can you tell us about your role in Ben Affleck's "Argo," which is set to open in theaters this September?
I feel so honored to be a part of that film. I have a small role playing Ben's wife. The story is about that relationship breaking down in the midst of everything else that is happening.
Also Check Out: A Little Efron Goes a Long Way in "The Lucky One" Trailer
Mac or PC?
New York or L.A.?
"Harry Potter," "Twilight" or "The Hunger Games?"
I can't answer that because I haven't seen "The Hunger Games" yet. As for the other two, I'm old school, so "Harry Potter."
Rock or rap?
Beer or wine?
Twitter or Facebook?
Neither. I kind of live in the Stone Age!
Justin Bieber or Justin Timberlake?
Mmm … Justin Timberlake.
Oh my God! Zombies.
Lady Gaga or …?
Lady Gaga. I don't even need to know who the other person is.
Apples or oranges?
UFC or WWE?
I don't even know what those are! I have no idea. [laughs]
What do you think you would be doing if you weren't acting?
That's such a good question. I never really thought about doing anything else, and I feel so lucky and blessed that I get to do this for a living and there is a direction in my life. I wake up every morning in awe that this is my life. If I weren't doing this, I might be doing something in education like teaching. But I don't really know if I could do anything else!