Zac Efron talks to dead people in ‘Charlie St. Cloud’
If there’s any dreamier actor in movies today than Zac Efron, we haven’t met him. Since becoming a cultural phenomenon in the “High School Musical” movies, the former Disney star has slowly but effectively built a career for himself as a leading man in movies like Hairspray, 17 Again, and his latest effort, Charlie St. Cloud, which reunites him with his 17 Again director Burr Steers, and offers audiences another opportunity to gaze into those crystal blue eyes of his.
In the film, Efron plays the title character, an ambitious high school graduate who foregoes a promising college career after his younger brother dies in an automobile accident. Hollywood News sat down with Efron last weekend at the Los Angeles press day for Charlie St. Cloud, where he discussed the challenges of the role, explored his own evolution as an actor, and examined the “it factor” that has found him a place among Hollywood’s most in-demand movie stars.
Hollywood News: You and Charlie Tahan have terrific chemistry as brothers on screen. Did you have a lot of time to get to know one another before filming began?
Zac Efron: Yeah. We tried to have fun and do stuff outside of set. What’d we do? We went to hockey games. We saw a bunch of sports and stuff. And then we just played catch every day and sort of got in that rhythm. Yeah, it was fun.
Hollywood News: You helped Burr Steers get the job directing this. Why did you decide you wanted to work with him again after 17 Again?
Efron: I didn’t so much get Burr the job. Burr called me and said, “are you serious about this? Because I’m in.” And I’m like, all right. Let’s do it, you know. So, he really responded to it. And that was just exciting to me. I was stoked. I knew this was even more so in Burr’s wheelhouse than 17 Again. And I just knew we’d be lucky to have him involved.
Hollywood News: What is Burr like as a director?
Efron: He’s very generous with the actors. It’s funny, ’cause Burr is rare to give a camera note or anything like that, but guaranteed, every take he’s running over to talk to us. And he’s got so much to say- an opinion or a new point of view or something to think about. Which is great for me. I enjoy that much attention from your director. I think it’s great. When they’re not worried about the other stuff, they really care about your performance. He’s performance oriented, definitely, deep down.
Hollywood News: How did you define or maybe choreograph the way Charlie interacts with others throughout the movie? Because there’s some question how real are the relationships he has with other characters.
Efron: When [Charlie’s brother] comes back, that’s when Charlie really is living. That’s what he looks forward to. I think that’s when we have the most fun, in those scenes. If you have a ghost of somebody coming back, if you make it sad, that would just be, ‘Oh, man.’ Instead, we just tried to have the most fun in those scenes.
Hollywood News: Did you think of it in terms of his brother being a ghost that you were interacting with? Or was that just another person?
Efron: I think it’s real to Charlie, so like a real person. But he’s aware of it, but it’s too good. He can’t let go, you know? I- I hope that answers your question – I’m kind of confused on your question, so I don’t really know what you’re talking about.
Hollywood News: I’m sorry – I’m kind of confusing. What does it feel like when you see yourself on screen? Do you enjoy it, do you want to look away?
Visit Hollywood News to read the rest of this interview.
Efron: It’s fun. Enrique [Chediak] was a real, cool, fascinating DP and he’s very, very good at making everything look really beautiful. That’s what struck me the first time I saw it. And I still have not seen the final draft of the movie, but I noticed that, first and foremost – the way the ocean looked. The way it was depicted, I loved that. As far as looking at myself on screen, I tend to, especially the first time around, I pick out every single flaw or things I should have or could have done better. I don’t know why, I just tend to dwell on those things. I’m more of like a cringer at first. And then when it’s years down the road and it’s out of the way I can actually look back and appreciate it somehow.