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It was the hardest phone call of his life. Buoyed by the global success of the Disney High School Musical phenomenon, Zac Efron was poised for an easy kill. All he had to do was say “yes” to the remake of Footloose. It would net him a lazy $10 million, be a sure-fire hit and establish him as a stand-alone marquee name. It was a no-brainer.
And everybody expected him to do it, especially his HSM director Kenny Ortega, who was set to helm the film. But Efron wanted to run his own race, be his own man. He’d already signaled as much with his self-spoofing appearances on Saturday Night Live, Robot Chicken and Entourage. So, mid-2009, he called Ortega and said what nobody wanted to hear.
“It was a very hard decision,” Efron recalls. “It was one of the first times I’ve ever, in my life, just . . .” He trails off, then pauses. Efron, 22, is here promoting his new film, the quality weepie Charlie St Cloud. But right now, lightly bearded and shifting uncomfortably in a Sydney hotel room chair, his head is inside the moment.
“It was the first time I made a decision based on what I felt in my heart. Everyone had geared me to do what was [supposed to be] the right decision. So, for the first time, it was like me against the world.” He pauses again. He’s glad he went with his instincts but also knows he upset a lot of people, particularly Ortega, who — sans his leading man — promptly pulled out of the picture.
“Yeah, it sucks, man,” Efron says. “I mean, I put a lot of friggin’ work into that film, too. I remember racking my brain trying to figure it out and how it could some way work.
“But every time I looked in the mirror it was like” — he pauses — ” ‘This is the first time I’m going to have to be selfish. I’ve got to do something for me. I’ve got to see how far I can take this. I know that I can do that. I know that I can pull it off and it would be great and very lucrative and incredibly fun — but at the end of the day is that what I’m here to do?’ ”
Zac Efron is developing his career post High School Musical through a careful choice of roles, including his latest in Charlie St. Cloud. The one question Zac Efron gets asked more than any other is whether he feels as though he needs to prove himself.
“As a result of getting involved at a young age, that’s sort of what the game has become now,” says the newly hirsute actor, in Australia to promote his romantic drama Charlie St. Cloud. Efron was hardly surprised, then, when his decision to sport a beard for the red-carpet premiere was interpreted by the world’s media as some kind of statement.
“When it’s just, in fact, facial hair,” he says. But since the former High School Musical star has his sights set on making the difficult transition to credible dramatic actor, he is determined to weather such personal indignities with as much aplomb as he can muster.
For the record, Efron is trying the beard on for size in preparation for his next role – as a US Marine who returns to North Carolina, after serving three tours in Iraq, to search for the unknown woman he believes was his good luck charm.
PARIS — The 36th annual Deauville American Film Festival will kick off on Friday with a smaller screen, but bigger stars than recent years with Annette Bening, Terry Gilliam and Zac Efron among the talent expected on the Normandy shores.
The fest will host its first “Deauville: Season 1″ sidebar, a screenwriting and creativity platform for professionals in the TV biz.
The TV sidebar will run from Sept 4th – 5th during Deauville’s opening weekend and will feature Master Classes, an “All About Screenwriting” professional discussion among French and TV writers and screenings of the latest hit U.S. shows including recent Emmy-winners “Modern Family” and “The Good Wife” plus “Sons of Anarchy,” “House,” “Treme,” “How to Make it in America,” “True Blood” and “The Sopranos.”
Efron will be in town to present his latest starring role in “Charlie St Cloud,” also screening out of competition. The Deauville American Film Festival runs Sept 3rd – 12th in Normandy, France.
Max Borenstein will write the thriller “Art of the Steal” for Warner Bros. Zac Efron is attached to star and is producing the pic with Jason Barrett, Kevin McCormick and David Klawans.
“Steal” is based on Joshuah Bearman’s Wired magazine article. Efron and Barrett are producing through their Warner-based Ninjas Runnin’ Wild banner and McCormick through his Warner-based Langley Park shingle.
Story centers on a con man who plans and executes a series of elaborate heists, all while leading a double life as an upstanding citizen.
Scans from this month’s issue of the U.K.’s OK! Magazine have been added to the gallery courtesy of Ang. Thanks to Chris for letting us know that Miracle Run is now for sale on DVD at Lifetime.com for $19.95 and don’t forget that Target stores will have Me and Orson Welles on DVD for sale exclusively starring August 17th.
Tweens, teens and Zac Efron lovers will get an opportunity to taste the heartthrob — in the form of a hotdog.
The “Zac Attack” dog is said to have been designed by Efron himself on May 20 when the actor visited Dougie Dog on Granville Street. It consists of a hotdog wiener topped with guacamole, onions, tomatoes, Swiss cheese and banana peppers.
The hotdog was presented to Efron on his 22nd birthday by Dougie Dog owners Dougieluv and Paul Granat, who was also Efron’s personal baseball coach during the filming of Charlie St. Cloud.
Dougieluv said he plans to start selling the Zac Attack this Friday.
Zac Efron is at the next stage of his career, and he knows it. Though he’s ceded his teen dream status to Taylor Lautner, the 22-year-old Efron is nothing if not savvy about picking his next wave of projects: Richard Linklater’s Me and Orson Welles proved that Efron could go indie for a respected director, while the new romantic drama Charlie St. Cloud courts the female audience who’s grown up with him, yet gives Efron his first meaty, adult role. Where will he go from here? As he told Movieline, that’s the question at the forefront of his mind.
In advance of Comic-Con, we published an excerpt of Efron discussing his reluctance to commit to superhero roles, but here’s the full interview, where Efron touches on the evolution of his acting technique, the projects he has in development at his new production shingle (and the idea behind its unique name), and how he feels when shirtless paparazzi photos of him make the cover of People magazine.
Your last two movies were directed by Burr Steers. What is it about him that makes him different from the other directors you’ve worked with?
Burr is very performance-oriented. He’s very good at explaining different points of view and finding interesting motivations; basically, he’s great with actors, and he’s great with me. I’m not necessarily trained — I never have been — I’ve just kind of gone from project to project and learned as I went along, and I always thought everyone I worked with was an “actor’s director” just because they were nice to actors. Burr has sort of redefined that for me. He’s very generous, very giving, and also a perfectionist. I appreciate that because I am too, and I never want to quit until we’ve got it.
This is a much more subtle performance than you’ve had before, though. Is it more daunting to approach a scene where you’re supposed to very little and hope it all comes through onscreen, or to be given a scene that’s very showy and emotional?
I’ve always been more inclined to the showy and emotional. No one ever really told me otherwise! I didn’t know what I was appreciating in other people’s performances, and the movie that really helped me wrap my head around it was No Country For Old Men, where you are so deeply devoted to those characters. The actors are so specific, and they don’t give too much — actually, it’s what they don’t give that’s more interesting. Burr’s been a revelation with that sort of thing, explaining internalization and that sort of stuff.
He’s more inclined to have you do more by doing less?
But by doing less, you can’t do nothing. As long as you’re thinking in terms of the character and as long as you really feel it, it’s going to show. You don’t have to necessarily have to emote what you’re doing, you know? Burr is very Meisner. He’s always dropping acting philosophies from different coaches, and I read this Meisner book he gave me after 17 Again that just sat on my coffee table forever, with this picture of an old-looking dude with gray hair and glasses on the cover. [Laughs] It’s a hard one to turn the first page, but I just sat and down and committed that I was going to read it all, and then I couldn’t put it down as soon as I started it. I read the whole thing in about three days. It’s just fascinating, and it’s all those little things that I wouldn’t have gotten into if it weren’t for Burr.
Zac Efron is more than just a pretty face. In Charlie St Cloud, Zac Efron proves his dramatic mettle as a brother who loses his little brother to a drunk driver and must face life alone.
The range of emotions Zac Efron goes through as an actor in Charlie St Cloud is immense and the High School Musical and Hairspray actor welcomed the challenge with gusto.
“I loved what the movie stood for — the themes and messages about families and strength,” Zac Efron said. “Being able to move on, keeping your loved ones alive inside your heart, it all rang true to me.”
Zac Efron knew he wanted to act at an early age. His proximity to Hollywood, growing up in Southern California, allowed him to be at the right place at the right time. That moment, as the world knows, was the phenomenon of High School Musical.
Not only did High School Musical provide the venue for Zac Efron to meet the love of his life, Vanessa Hudgens, but it also sent him from a Disney darling to someone who could potentially be the next Tom Cruise. If his turn in High School Musical and Hairspray is akin to Cruise’s Top Gun and Days of Thunder, then Charlie St Cloud is Zac Efron’s Born on the Fourth of July. We are not suggesting Zac Efron is an Oscar-caliber actor as Tom Cruise was with his nominated portrayal of the real-life Ron Kovic, but what we are saying is that Zac Efron is every bit as capable to follow in Cruise’s footsteps with a blockbuster career.
SheKnows: There’s a real sense of a brotherly bond in Charlie St Cloud. How did you and actor Charlie Tahan find each other that you were able to pull that off?
Zac Efron: There are your typical everyday brothers. We’re a bit closer. We didn’t grow up with a father in the movie. We really rely on each other for a lot more in that camaraderie. I’m trying to raise him to be the young man that can be successful and strong. We have a stronger than normal brother relationship.
SheKnows: Charlie told us that he’s not really into sports…yet you would never know it watching the film.
Zac Efron: Baseball is the way that we connect. It’s our ritual. We talk about it and connect over it. That’s the way I instill a lot of the rules of success in him. It’s through a foundation — baseball.
SheKnows: And sailing, too, you guys really demonstrate you know what you’re doing out there…
Zac Efron: That was really fun. For such a short scene, it took a long time to film. The sailing scenes were fun and they’re great for the movie. But, when you’re out there doing the real sailing, it’s hard. Because the boats are so unstable and you’re on them for so long, we wouldn’t get seasick, we’d actually get land sick. We’d come back onto land and everything would be moving [laughs]. I remember buildings looked like they were shaking, it was so weird. But, we did become pretty good sailors by the end.
SheKnows: Zac, this role is a bit out of your comfort zone of late. Yet, everyone is kind of expecting great things of you. How’s that for a challenge?
Zac Efron: My first reaction when I read the script was that it was really emotional. I connected with it. I have a little brother in real life. Envisioning what it would be like to lose my little brother evoked a very strong emotional reaction. I loved that.
The lights were down low in a movie theater, and up on the screen, Zac Efron was about to kiss a girl when a collection of shrill “oohs” and “aahs” interrupted the intimate moment.
With “Charlie St. Cloud,” out Friday, Efron tackles his first commercially dramatic role — a move that signals his desire to leave behind his reputation as a teen heartthrob. But considering his very vocal fans at the film’s premiere in Los Angeles last week, it may take more than just one film to make the break.
“I think that happens in a lot of movies,” Efron said, shrugging off the hooting and hollering while sitting on the patio of a Sunset Strip hotel beside director Burr Steers a few days after the premiere.
“With ‘Twilight’ too, I think. They work themselves up,” added Steers. “But you saw — with Zac, he gets, like, a Beatles reaction.”
Tuesday Tips – Where you learn, in all honest detail, the need for organization, planning and composure in a 5 minute portrait. (times are approximate and quotes are paraphrased..)
9:30 a.m. Coming back from another assignment, I’m told that I would have a portrait Zac Efron at 11:00. I bemoan lack of advance notice (which had to happen for reasons too complicated to go into here). Shooting news, I need to quickly shift gears to photograph a celebrity…
9:45 a.m. – Arrive at paper and look for the tilt shift lenses in the pool locker- “Arrggh, Where did they all go?” I grab an 85mm f/1.8 lens, thinking shallow depth of field with my Canon 5DMarkII.
10:00 a.m. – Looking at websites to update myself on what Zac has been doing and what direction he might be wanting to go as an actor. Nice guy? Tough guy? Dark? Light? Serious?
10:15 a.m. – Look at recent pictures of him from a Parade shoot and at other photojournalists’ celebrity portraits to get creative juices flowing. Wow, Jay Clendenin has been doing great work.
10:20 a.m. – Go down to car and rifle through all my equipment and brainstorm what I can do with equipment available. Theorize that a shallow depth of field with high speed sync of softboxes using Canon Speedlites might work. On-camera infra-red controller forms basis of shoot.
10:40 a.m. – Leave for Peninsula Hotel.
10:55 a.m. – Arrive to be greeted immediately by public relations representative. Reporter and I are ushered up to wait in the hallway outside of hotel door. Not ideal. Don’t know what kind of light I’m facing, colors of walls, placement of couches, etc…But in the end, it’s just a hotel room.
Bungee jumping? Zac Efron loves it, stress-free. It’s tall, super-steep waterslides that spook the rising star.
“There is an element of like, ‘You could fall out,’” says Efron, 22. “There’s vert on that thing. It goes straight down, but you’re not strapped in. I trust the elastic.”
In his career, however, Efron—best known for playing the singing, dancing, basketball-loving Troy Bolton in the “High School Musical” franchise—is ready for serious risk. Rather than continue to showcase his musical talents and impressive footwork, Efron passed on remaking “Footloose” to do the somber drama “Charlie St. Cloud,” opening July 30. The film is based on Ben Sherwood’s novel “The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud” and offers Efron, recently seen in “Me and Orson Welles” and “17 Again,” a chance to take on his most dramatic, emotional starring role yet. “I didn’t know if I could actually pull it off,” he says.
Charlie (Efron) is a star sailor with a full scholarship waiting for him at Stanford, but the death of Charlie’s little brother Sam (Charlie Tahan) throws Charlie’s life way off course. Especially when, five years later, Charlie still sees visions of Sam and prefers to play catch with his brother in the woods than pursue Tess (Amanda Crew), a cutie who had eyes for Charlie back in high school.
Efron again proves he can do mature, charismatic work no matter what the material. The California native, who is still dating his “High School Musical” co-star Vanessa Hudgens, chatted with us about his career and lots more at the Peninsula Hotel, just after downing a filet mignon at Gibson’s.
What do you think your “High School Musical” character Troy Bolton is doing right now?
[Laughs] He’s playing pro ball, I think. He probably went to the Bulls instead of LeBron.
What can he bring to the team?
I think he’d be a good point guard.
Take a hike, Derrick Rose!
[Laughs] Yeah, I think Troy’s probably benched right now, but I think in the next couple years he’s really going to come to fruition.
Were there nerves about getting to the emotional levels of “Charlie St. Cloud”?
Sort of. It was just about trying something new and stepping outside the comfort zone. Everyone laid out these things in front of me that were just too good to be true; on paper they just couldn’t fail. I wanted to do something for me, so I could believe in myself on the inside.
You have passionate fans, you’re on magazine covers, and you’re included on all sorts of “sexiest” lists. When’s a time you’ve felt insecure?
[Pause, then serious] It’s never fan interactions, and it never has to do, usually, with magazine covers or anything like that. That’s fine. Sometimes when it can get to you or you start to feel insecure … first of all, just never really go on the Internet. Don’t look at reviews or anything like that because there’s no filtration.
Do you feel sensitive to those things?
Yeah, of course. You can’t help it. Someone actually says those things.
Anyone would feel that way, having your job performance knocked.
Yeah, as anyone would. So I make a point to not go there, and I try and focus on what I know I can do better. It’s pretty amazing out there. You really feel like a jackass. But not so much recently. … Sometimes when the paparazzi … you fly across the world for seclusion, and then someone’s there to document it and show everyone. Sometimes that gets to you a little bit. It’s just an element of frustration. You really do want to have some moments for yourself.
What’s the most overwhelming experience you’ve had with fans?
Mall of America. Just recently. It was like two days ago. Ah, it was about three days ago now. It’s all blending together, but that was insane. I’ve never seen 7,000 fans en masse.
What was going through your head?
I was speechless. I don’t know what to even relate that to. It’s unlike any premiere. It was four or five levels of fans and you in the center, and deafening. I’ve had some pretty loud premieres and things where it’s like you slip in some earplugs, but I’ve never heard anything like this. And I looked around and I’m like, “I can’t be the only one.” And all the security and the cops that were there, and there was a lot of them; they were all like this: [covers his ears and closes his eyes]. These big, tough [people] … I didn’t feel so bad, you know. So that was pretty funny. Just nuts.
When Zac Efron hit Chicago last week to promote ”Charlie St. Cloud,” his upcoming film opening Friday at local theaters, the actor’s media handlers carefully planned a press tour they thought could avoid the popular star’s avid fans from mobbing him at every stop on the morning spin around town.
No such luck. At every media outlet, a loyal and loud coterie of Efron aficionados was spied screaming, “Zac! Zac! We love you!!!” And it wasn’t merely Efron’s ‘tween and teen groupies who followed him from place to place.
”I think I should start a ‘Cougars for Zac’ club,” said a South Suburban matron in the lobby of Fox Chicago News, who declined to give her name, ”or else my husband will have a heart attack!” she said with a laugh.
Efron took all the hoopla in stride. ”Look, it’s all so flattering. Plus everyone is so nice. I wish I had more time to talk to them all, but then I’d be here until next week!”
Well-hidden away from those fans, Efron turned serious as he discussed a key element in his new film — the title character’s relationship with his younger brother after that sibling has died.
Efron — who stars as Charlie St. Cloud — revealed that those on-screen chats and baseball pitching practices his character conducts daily with his dead little brother Sam may not necessarily be about Charlie seeing ghosts.
”One of the things I like about the movie was keeping all options viable,” Efron said. “At no point do we clearly point out the existence of ghosts or spirits — leaving open the possibility that all of this could be going on entirely in Charlie’s head.”
Efron admitted he’s ”still up in the air” about a lot of issues regarding life after death. ”I don’t have one clearly defined opinion one way or the other. … I do know one thing: The mind is a powerful place — I know that from where I’ve been in my own dreams,” Efron said with a laugh when pushed for some examples of dreams he could remember.
‘Oh, no!” Efron quipped. “We’re definitely not going there!”
Stars, they’re just like us. They, too, get displaced by younger siblings when they leave the nest. Now that he’s out of his childhood home in California, Zac Efron gets a jolt whenever he visits his parents and younger brother, Dylan.
“My brother’s in my room now. I’m sleeping in the guest room. I never appreciated how cool my room was until you go in there and your brother has manhandled everything and put posters of every soccer team on the wall. I had my Tyra Banks posters, skateboarding, BMX, sports. I go home and I can’t believe it was my room,” Efron tells USA TODAY’s Donna Freydkin.
And it’s not that Efron is getting taller, per se. It just feels that way. “I feel like a giant in my house because every time I go home, everything just shrinks,” he says.
Zac Efron is all grown up. And he knows exactly how to prove it. “Eventually I’ll be getting to adult-adult (entertainment), for real. But baby steps,” the actor deadpans.
Don’t fret, Efronistas. He’s only kidding. Efron, 22, still remains his wholesome, hunky self. But the actor with the gleaming blue eyes and immaculately spiked hair, who broke through as studly varsity basketball captain Troy Bolton in Disney’s High School Musical trilogy, is gradually scoring more mature roles.
On Friday, he headlines the drama Charlie St. Cloud, a family flick starring Efron as a sailing prodigy with a scholarship to Stanford whose entire future collapses amid the accidental death of his beloved younger brother. And the film, which deals with debilitating isolation and loss, has nary a musical number, which is one of the many reasons the project resonated with Efron.
“It seemed like someone I could play. There were a lot of scripts I was getting with guys that were too cool, you know? Not only am I not that person, why would I pretend to be that person?” Efron says. “Charlie was a character I felt I could bring something to. Having a little brother, having goals and aspirations, loving sports, all that kind of stuff just made sense to me. For me, a huge part of my life is family, my mom and dad and brother. Charlie St. Cloud was a chance for me to dream and say, ‘What if I didn’t have that?’ ”
Zac Efron, who opens Friday in Universal’s Charlie St. Cloud, is on the verge of closing on deals for what figure to be his next two star vehicles. His likely next pic is The Lucky One, a Scott Hicks-directed adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel for Warner Bros and producer Denise DiNovi. Efron will play a soldier who returns from Iraq with a picture of a girl that became his good luck charm. He seeks out the girl and they develop a relationship. Will Fetters and Doug McGrath wrote the script.
He’s also taken a shine to Die in a Gunfight, a high octane action script written by neophytes Andrew Berrer and Gabriel Ferrari, both of whom just signed with WME, fresh out of NYU. Efron will play a young New York kid who falls in love with the daughter of his father’s nemesis, setting in motion a Romeo and Juliet-like forbidden romance. The project hasn’t been shopped yet–Mark Gordon’s steering it as producer–and they will likely put on a director first for a potential spring start. I’ve got to give a shout out here to Vulture, which was faster on the draw with the Efron information than I was. CAA and manager Jason Barrett rep him.