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On High School Musical: “But here’s the one thing about High School Musical, that a lot of people forget or don’t realize. It affected a lot of people, its resonance, culturally, was massive … and at the same time, it was in every sense of it, the luckiest break in the world. The wrong thing to do—and that’s what all these interviews now are trying to get me to say— is to turn on it, to like sh– on it, call it crap. But that’s insane. There are hundreds of people who began doing one thing when they were younger, who go on to develop and refine and shape their vision, as they get older, and other concerns—like fame, or money, take a back seat to other ones.”
On not complaining about his life: “The b—hiness doesn’t do anything. It just puts you out there and it makes you look unappreciative to your fans. If I’m talking to my friends, or somebody important who can have some influence on or affect the situation, that’s one thing, but to b—h about attention while getting attention? I’d be doing it to the very people whose job it is to get that information—who are watching me and have control over that information. Therefore, it makes them upset, they read it like it’s hypocritical, and so they spread some bullsh–. You should hear the chatroom sh– that gets said every time you try to complain. So that’s why I’m not going to complain. I will do a lot of things in my life differently to make sure it’s not known or tweeted about or photographed. But it’s a complete day-to-day situation. I mean, I wish I could sit here and be completely honest—but I guess that’s an even bigger responsibility—and it’d take a more courageous man.”
On making good movies for the studios: “It’s really tough. I feel like I’m in the trenches with them. It’s really hard because I respect these people so much. And they are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met. And they struggle more than I can even comprehend with the problem at hand—the dichotomy—the challenge of making good movies and making movies that people want to watch. And right now, being me, I personally know which ones I want to be in. I feel like the other way. S–t, I feel like I can be effective in one.”
Zac Efron has been spending a lot of time in hotels. The Toronto International Film Festival, where he was promoting the gothic potboiler “The Paperboy” and the family drama “At Any Price,” required him to jet from location to location for interviews and photo shoots. “I think I have seen every hotel in Toronto today,” he says from his seat in the hotel bar. “I could write a guidebook.” Still, the exhausted Efron is gracious and gregarious, stopping to pose for photos and sign autographs for anyone who asks—and a lot of people ask.
Spend any time with Efron and it becomes clear that the burgeoning movie star does not have an equally burgeoning ego. “I might not be the greatest actor, but I walk in to every project willing to work hard,” he says. “There are a lot of people who can slide on talent their whole lives; they’re just naturally gifted. I’ve never considered myself one of those people. I enjoy outworking the opposition.”
Efron is savvy about his shot at longevity in a fickle business. Unlike many actors who hit it big in their teen years, he has kept his head down and concentrated on the work. There have been no public scandals, no drunken outbursts, no reports of bad behavior on set. Efron is wise beyond his 24 years, saying, “I know I’ve been lucky. But it’s what you do with that luck afterwards that really defines whether you stick around.”