Thought Zac Efron was all abs in Baywatch? Think again. He also has a personality that might seem very familiar to viewers of the 2016 Olympics. In Baywatch, Efron plays Matt Brody, a Olympian swimmer who lost everything after he threw up mid-race. With his cocky attitude and Olympic grill, it's impossible to look at Matt Brody and not see one particularly well-known, real-life swimmer. Now, that doesn't mean that Zac Efron's Baywatch character is based on Ryan Lochte — a rep for Paramount tells Bustle that the character was not directly inspired by the swimmer — but viewers won't be crazy for assuming that Matt isn't at least a little bit influenced by the athlete and former reality TV star.
That said, Efron himself has said that the character isn't actually meant to be based off Lochte. "Any similarities to any swimmers is completely coincidental," the actor insisted in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. In fact, when asked directly if he modeled the character after a specific athlete, Efron answered, "maybe Michael Phelps. We shot the entire film before any of the Olympics took place." It's true that Baywatch was filmed before the 2016 Rio Olympics, when Lochte fell from grace after a night of partying led to a fabricated story about a robbery that nearly caused an international incident. However, November 2016 reshoots of the movie would've made it entirely possible for filmmakers to tweak Brody's story to make it more Lochte-esque, if that was the goal.
Even if the character wasn't directly meant to be a Lochte impression, there are plenty of similarities that are hard to ignore. I mean:
Remember Lochte's American Flag grill he insisted on wearing during the 2012 Olympic games? The grill earned the athlete a stern talking to from Olympic official and made him the official butt of many a late night joke. The athlete decided against bringing his mouth jewelry to the 2016 Olympics, but it's still an exceptionally shiny part of his legacy. And, now it has a place in Hollywood history as Matt Brody's favorite Olympic accessory (save his gold medals) in Baywatch.
The Memorable Quotes
Lochte is a swimmer, not a professional interviewee, but that doesn't mean he gets a pass for all the things he has said in front of the camera. Remember this infamous line — "These are my shoes that I designed from top to the very sole to the very to to the bottom. Laces" — from his reality show, What Would Ryan Lochte Do? Or: "I still have a job to do, and I still have a goal to do," words he uttered during an interview with Fox 29 Philly.
In comparison, Baywatch's Matt Brody is shown saying this in an Olympic interview: "There is no 'I' in team, but there is a 'me.'" See the similarities?
Like Lochte, Efron's character in Baywatch also had a tough time at the Rio Olympics, in which he threw up during the relay race after a night of partying, losing the medal for him and his teammates. Sure, it's not fabricating a robbery, but it's still pretty bad. In the movie, it was enough to lose Matt all of his sponsors and send him on a dark path, leading to a plea deal that sends him straight to the Baywatch team.
There are some good similarities, too. Both Matt and Lochte have worked on rehabbing their images — Matt through his new career as a lifeguard, Lochte with his stint on Dancing with the Stars. And hey, if the comparison was actually real, Lochte could tell people that Efron played him in a movie. That's definitely something worth celebrating.