There’s a chance you’re already familiar with Ryan Guzman. He played the one man who came close to breaking up Ezra and Aria on Pretty Little Liars and the only guy to lead more than one Step Up movie, but this weekend he’s introducing himself to the world in a whole new light. As the titular Boy in The Boy Next Door, Guzman answers whether looks can kill, terrorizing Jennifer Lopez after she regrets their romantic evening together. With the film coming out today, Vulture spoke with Guzman about his special skills, hurting Kristin Chenoweth, and Jennifer Lopez’s cookies.
Starting with Pretty Little Liars, when you were on the show, were Ezria fans supportive of you or did they come after you for playing Aria’s new love interest?
Oh no, the Ezria fans hated me. I think they still hate me. I think they hate anybody that is not Aria and Ezra.
I was a fan of it.
Thank you. I don’t know why they are such fans of underage dating, but yeah —
Maybe that will draw them to The Boy Next Door.
That is what I was going to say, it is the opposite for this film. I’m not underage. I’m 19 years old in this film, so I’m still legal. I don’t know if they’ll like that. Maybe if I was 16 they might like it. [Laughs.]
Once you were finally on set, how did you build chemistry with Jennifer Lopez? Did you dance?
Yeah, we did not dance to bond. It was not like as soon as we saw each other we had a big dance-off and were like all right cool, we like each other, but we connected right away. She is a sweetheart and she was able to deal with my idiotic mentality and me being just a goofball in general.
Translating that into the much anticipated sex scene, how did you all orchestrate it? I know you’ve said that when you saw it in the script it was just labeled intimate scene, but a couple of days before you shot that scene, it turned into something bigger.
Jennifer had most of the say beforehand because she has a lot more to be wary of. I am not on the scale she is on right now, so we had to make sure everything was okay with her and she was open and willing to do everything she could for the scene, which was awesome because it gave it a lot of range. The choreography of that whole scene was a collaboration between Jennifer, Rob Cohen, myself, and then a couple of the producers figuring exactly how to show the scene as sexual as it can be and make it as passionate and memorable as it could be without being too graphic and vulgar. We accomplished something in making this close scene that, when people see it, they will feel something throughout.
The movie does a lot in the beginning to sexualize you — like in the early scene when you are fixing the car, did they oil you up?
It was a combo of sweat, water, and a little bit of glycerin, but it was through her point of view. Rob wanted to show what is going on in her head, looking with lust at this young man who is very enticing. So obviously it was oversexualized. It was a lot of making sure my arms were looking all right and my stomach had abs that were showing.
Later in the movie, some of your most intense scenes are with Kristin Chenoweth, who is so small and so sweet. Was it hard to approach her so violently?
Yeah, I feel so bad. Most of my really, really maniacal scenes were with Kristen. There was one in particular that made everybody cringe. She tries to slap me and I told her right away, “Literally try and hit me” because the first couple times she just pretended to hit my face. I said, “No, no, no it is not going to read, so please just try and hit my face.” The one that we ended up using is the one where she tried to hit my face actually, and I catch her hand right before she gets there. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was so intense and I was so in the moment, that I squeezed this poor woman’s wrist so hard I left a mark on her.
Yeah, I felt horrible and right after that scene I was hugging her and saying sorry. I felt horrible.
So is J.Lo a great baker or were there delicious cookies on set, because it seems like everyone in the film had their mind on cookies.
Yeah, I know. We are all picking up on that. I think The Boy Next Door could be an advertisement for cookies.
Yeah, J.Lo needs to set that up with Chips Ahoy.
I know! I’ll reach out. I will start rebranding myself as the Cookie Monster. [Laughs.] Yeah, I did not realize that was a theme throughout the film, but obviously the line that made it to the trailer and that people started talking about was “I love your mother’s cookies,” which was an ad-lib from me. I did not know if it was going to sound ridiculous, but the director seemed to love it. And Jennifer did not make any cookies during this film. They were all premade and I was not eating a lot during the film, but I tell you what, I am eating a bunch of cookies now because everyone is giving them to me thinking that I cannot stop eating cookies.
Yes, every line that mentioned cookies played really well in the theater I was in.
That should be a drinking game. Every time you see the movie, everybody should drink every time we say cookies.