Zac Efron is munching a cheeseburger at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills and discussing one minor downside of his extraordinarily successful career...
'I have to sneak around and hide when I go to the supermarket,' he says. 'It's ridiculous.'
So ridiculous, in fact, that a crowd of feverishly excited teenage girls are currently waiting for Efron, 21, outside the hotel, cameras and mobile phones ready.
His fame stems from a starring role in High School Musical, a made-for-TV Disney film that was an unexpected hit. The sequel was even bigger, and High School Musical 3: Senior Year was a global blockbuster, grossing nearly £200 million.
In his new film, 17 Again, Efron plays a 37-year-old who is miraculously turned back into a 17-year-old. He lives in California and is dating Vanessa Hudgens, his High School Musical co-star.
Leo DiCaprio told me, 'Don't do drugs.'
He just laid it out there. I've spent some time with him, and we were talking one day and it was kind of his way-out-the-door, last-minute advice. He said, 'Oh, by the way, if you really want to mess this all up, try heroin.' I said, 'Thanks', and he said, 'No, seriously, that's pretty much the only way you're going to screw this up, and you shouldn't go down that road - it will mess you up without fail. Do not do drugs.' That was enough for me; that's all I needed to hear.
Girls get hysterical around me; they rip my clothes and cry and scream.
I was at a premiere and there was a huge crowd that got completely out of control. A barrier broke and fans came rushing over and grabbed me. I was pulled in every direction. The security guards stopped the commotion and no one was hurt, but later that night I went home, took off my shirt and was getting ready for bed when I found a long fingernail stuck into my back. [ewwww]
I wasn't a heart-throb at school; I was a geek.
I was into musical theatre, which isn't perceived to be the coolest thing. There were guys who were 6ft 1in with beards and big muscles and I was a gawky 17-year-old, a skinny, awkward kid. I was a late bloomer.
[as if you lot needed it, but proof:
&hearts awkwardly cute goofy zefron too]
There's no guidebook on how to handle fame.
I've made attempts to disguise myself, but sometimes no disguise is the best disguise, because if you wear shades inside a shop, everyone looks right at you and they think, 'Who is that?' I've found the best thing is to try to look normal and avoid all eye contact. If someone says, 'Hey, you're that High School Musical kid', I'll say 'No' and just keep on going.
When I was small I discovered the Back To The Future car in my garage.
I didn't know then that it was my dad's DeLorean. He kept it under a cover and I wasn't allowed to touch it. But one day I sneaked in and lifted up the cover and I was completely fascinated. I got in and pretended to drive it. I still work on it with my dad; it's very rare, one of the few that's around. Right now it has a problem with the engine that we can't figure out.
I don't do skateboard tricks any more.
I had a bad crash where I slammed my back, shoulders and head into the bottom of a half-pipe. I started skateboarding as a kid - it's like surfing on the sidewalk. I love it. It's a Zen thing, so much better than walking. It's almost spiritual. I'm into cruising on long boards, which have slightly bigger wheels that make for a really smooth ride. I've got two that are my height, so almost six feet, and then I've got one in every other size.
I love restoring vintage cars.
I wouldn't say I'm great, but I get a lot of guidance. I got the bug from my dad. When he was younger, he never drove a car he hadn't worked on himself. He rebuilt his first eight cars. My grandfather loves working on cars, too. He accidentally set fire to the engine of his Mustang recently while starting it. We're fixing it up, but it's not in great condition right now. It's the first Mustang ever, a cool, red convertible with a white leather interior, and it's an ongoing project.
Cars are my only extravagance.
Recently I bought a black Audi S6. I don't have a fleet of cars, though. It's smarter to live below your means. Whatever you can afford, go two pegs down and you're safe.
It does feel a bit weird that I can already afford a house.
Most of my friends are finishing college right now and don't make any money yet. But they're happy for me. They don't see 'Zac Efron the star'; they treat me the way they always did.
I'm not suicidal, but I love adrenaline sports.
Anywhere there's a great beach and good surfing is my favourite place to be. Australia is great, because you can find places where there's no one out there. I'm not a great surfer. For the first week of surfing every single wave hits you head-on. It seems like they're never going to stop and you're getting ripped to pieces by these waves. That first moment when you actually jump up and you're on the open face of a wave is amazing. All the energy was going against you and now you've mastered it.
Growing up was hell.
I could never get into trouble like the rest of my friends. My parents were very strict and taught me good values, and whenever I did anything wrong my mum would somehow know it.
There's no way I can relate to a 37-year-old guy.
But that's what I had to do in 17 Again. If I could go back in time, I'd just pat myself on the back and say, 'Hey, dude - you're out of here in no time, honestly.' High school felt like an eternity to me.
My dad and I camped out on a deserted island.
It's just off the coast of California. We hiked for miles on mountain trails, then had a dinner of dehydrated camping food - rice and beans - over a stove. In the morning we climbed to the top of the mountain. All you could see was ocean on all sides. It was absolutely beautiful, no people anywhere in sight. It was just nice to be somewhere that no one else had been - at least in a couple of weeks.
Good interview. Slightly strange format, but w/e, they got a lot of interesting info out of him. A+++. :)