In September 2022 “Barbarian”Director Zach Cregger spoke to Tatyana Arrington of WhereistheBuzz TVon YouTube about the film. During the discussion, he said that Justin Long had not signed up to play AJ. Instead, he had Zac Embron in mind. “That character, on the page, is really vile. I think I had just been thinking, like, ‘Who can play a really great villain? Who’s a villainous actor?’ And he just kinda popped into my head,”Cregger clarified, noting that Efron’s comments were not a criticism of Cregger. Cregger realized that Long’s on-screen persona was a more intriguing one.
Efron was eliminated from the race and Long was offered the job. He couldn’t be happier to play the role of AJ even though it is not one of his archetypes. “You get to examine a darkness, a guy who is a total narcissist. And I definitely have narcissistic tendencies that I got to really lean into. And it was fun,”Long ago, the AV ClubRead more about his work “Barbarian,”It was a liberating experience, he said. However, he also notes that it was difficult for him to handle the grimy of AJ, given his infrequent involvement with moral bankruptcy roles.
Zac Efron would have done well as AJ, but it is unlikely that he would. “Barbarian,”In hindsight Justin Long was the right choice for the role.