By now you've probably heard of We Are Your Friends, the new movie starring Zac Efron. The A-lister plays Cole Carter, a 23-year-old in the San Fernando Valley trying to climb to the top as a DJ in the EDM world. The movie, which is the first feature from director Max Joseph, is a verifiable coming-of-age story and features cameos from a ton of actual DJs. It seems like Cole could be a younger version of any one of these musicians, so is Zac Efron's character based on an actual DJ?
Cole Carter wasn't inspired by any particular artist, but his story is a representation of the struggle experienced by many a young person who dreams of making more for him or herself. The story was originally written by Richard Silverman, who explained his theory that the best movies revolving around iconic music movements are not about the stars of movements themselves, but about kids who became involved in these movements because they are "trying to figure a way out and a better life," to TrailerAddict. Max Joseph, who co-wrote the screenplay, also wanted to emphasize this coming-of-age aspect in the film. He said in a post on the movie's website that he "always wanted to do a film about kids graduating from high school or college and moving on with their lives. They're on the precipice of adulthood and still trying to figure out in what direction they should go."
So Cole Carter was written as an archetype of a young man in this transitional stage. This was a major point of attraction for Efron to the project. He explained on the film's website, "What I loved about this story is that is says so much about what it’s like to be a young guy searching for himself, trying to get through life and fulfill big aspirations, big dreams, and all it takes to navigate through that."
Many other films have also utilized specific music movements to set the stage for a characters' personal growth. Here are a few movie characters who have journeys similar to Cole's.
Miles Teller's character in Whiplash is willing to do whatever it takes to be an all-star drummer at his prestigious music conservatory — including facing off with a terrifying J.K. Simmons.
The 15-year-old protagonist of Almost Famous was based on director Cameron Crowe's own experience of traveling on tour with a band as a teenaged music reporter — and all the debauchery that entailed.
John Travolta's portrayal of this Brooklyn kid who comes to life at the disco has been the inspiration for many a Halloween costume.
Jennifer Beals played this "steel town girl on a Saturday night" who dreamt of being a professional dancer. Sidenote: everyone made fun of that leotard for like the first 25 years after the movie came out, but I'm pretty sure I saw something just like it in American Apparel the other day...
So just as these characters exemplified the youthful angst of their respective eras, Cole Carter represents a prototypical millennial's dreams of finding fame and fortune amidst a backdrop of temptation. The music in the movie adds another layer to the story, creating an auditory experience of the passion and energy that pumps through a young kid's veins as he strives to become something bigger than himself.
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