We hear so much about bad behaviour in show business these days, that I always like to point out when a young star impresses me with smarts & manners. INCEPTION's Joseph Gordon-Levitt has always reminded me of Tom Cruise in his outstanding courtesy and intelligent conversation (in fact, they're the only two male celebrities I've met who are consistently gentlemen-enough to stand & shake hands when greeting a journalist). And now today I had the pleasure of interviewing superstar Zac Efron, waterside at the lovely Ritz Carlton Hotel in Marina Del Rey.
I first met Zac when he was promoting HAIRSPRAY...before the Fame Train hit him full speed. Back then, he struck me as an energetic, playful kid who was having an awfully good time enjoying the ride. But after the global phenomenon of the HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL franchise, I worried that "Famous Person's Disease" may have infected him. After all, it happens to the best of 'em and I've seen it time and time again: idolized celebrities caving in to believe their own publicity and letting the devotion of fawning fans go to their head. Publicly, Zac has always seemed to eschew the frenzy...keeping to himself and maintaining as much of a private life away from the media as possible.
Today, in spite of the throngs of female admirers camped out nearby and the ever-present bodyguard on watch, he was self-effacing, friendly and gregarious. Polite and courteous to everyone around him (when the cameras were rolling and especially when they were not). We chatted about how he handles fame, the choices he makes in his career and a little bit about our mutual love of baseball, too! As a devotee of the Los Angeles Dodgers, I forgive him for being a San Francisco Giants fan and he wisely knows how to diplomatically straddle an allegiance between the rival teams.
Hopefully Joseph and Zac will continue to follow in the footsteps of stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and John Travolta...intelligent, great talents who are also considerate gentlemen. I mentioned to Zac that some people have said that, if he continues his current career path, he could be the next Tom Hanks. He was surprised and delighted with that. After all, even movie stars can use a good role model!
He also talked about the Giants and Dodgers thing (just for beeonkaa when she gets back, lol):