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Aug 2nd
01:49 pm
LA Times: 'Zac Efron's (halting) reinvention'  
From LA Times writer, Steven Zeitchik:

There's a piquant irony in Zac Efron backing out of "Footloose" because he didn't want to be the "High School Musical" guy -- and then having the movie he chose to do draw mainly from the "High School Musical" set.

Efron's soapy "Charlie St. Cloud" grossed just $12.1 million this weekend, largely because of goodwill from tweens and teens who like Efron from his Troy Bolton days, according to box-office experts. Showing less goodwill were critics, who collectively gave the tearjerky story of a lovelorn man conjuring up memories of his late brother a mere 24% on Rotten Tomatoes, and used such descriptors as "unintentionally hilarious" (the New York Post, Lou Lumenick).

But in an interview with my colleague Amy Kaufman, Efron said he felt confident that acting in a serious drama would help him move into the next phase of his career.

"I was looking at 'Footloose' and how great it would be, and every person you talk to is like, 'That's a great move. That's exactly what we would expect from you,' " he said, pouring himself some tea last month. "And after you hear that a few times, you kind of just go, 'I have to look myself in the face.' I wanted to slow down and do something challenging for the right reasons — not for the money or notoriety or for more fame or to be the king of genre."

Compared to singing and dancing through homeroom, the movie represents an evolution, but only the way going from an amoeba to a paramecium might be considered an evolution.
The shaky reviews might suggest Efron should stick with the tween roles as long as he can eke them out. But it's clear he wants more, and it's also clear he has at least a little more talent than this (it was even clear in "17 Again"). And yet he continues with the maudlin teen fare, a point underscored last week when it was revealed he was attached to "The Lucky One," the latest Nicholas Sparks Kleenex-puller. While superficially a more dramatic role, the project smells of the same saturated schmaltz of "High School Musical," only in non-singing form.

The simple answer to this conundrum -- assuming he wants to solve it -- is for Efron to choose better material, though of course that presumes it's there to be chosen. "St. Cloud" came about because it was the most adult option in a sea of kiddie choices. Those options may be expanding a little for Efron now, especially as he gets his production company going and studio Warner Bros. redoubles its efforts to keep him happy. The studio recently optioned remake rights to the Swedish hit "Snabba Cash," a movie about an ingénue drug dealer that's as much character piece as action thriller. So he at least should have a few more choices over the coming years.

There's a silver lining in the failure of "Charlie St. Cloud"; you could look at the results and infer that audiences don't want to see Efron as a vulnerable heartthrob. It's an open question, though, whether we want to see him as something else.

Personally I disagree with the last paragraph. To me the silver lining is, you put him in a movie that was not that well-reviewed and not that well-promoted and it still made $12 million dollars. Jeezbee pointed out to me The Playlist made this connection as well and it's true. If he wasn't a star, this would've banked $6 million tops, just like the similarly melodramatic and poorly marketed film Extraordinary Measures. People showed up for him. I do agree about the better material thing though... and about The Lucky One.
 
 
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Shruti: Zac | Thinkercalcified on August 2nd, 2010 09:32 pm (UTC)
I mentioned this elsewhere but it's important enough (to me... lol) to say again).

IMHO his team is operating on the proven-to-be-outdated model of building up a star in Zac through vehicles. The more modern and more useful platform is to get him into movies people want to see, regardless of his presence, and build up not a fanbase (which he already has, though not in all that worthwhile of a sense in terms of credibility) but a sense of good acting and good choices.

Edited at 2010-08-02 09:34 pm (UTC)
livingwell100livingwell100 on August 2nd, 2010 09:44 pm (UTC)
So true Shrewtee.

A great supporting role in a great film can and will build a demographic and expand an actors opportunities and bankability as well as a leading role.

People always seem to forget that Robert Dinero, Meryl Streep, Vanessa Redgrave, even Ethel Barrymore ( I could go on also with nominees now leads) won oscars in supporting actor/actress first. Which lead to all those amazing leading roles. Those supporting roles were in great motion pictures.

We all know Zac can act now its time to see him in really great motion pictures
hlloyd04 on August 2nd, 2010 10:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you for pointing this out. This is exactly the way that I feel. I'd much rather see him a major ensemble piece. Even if he sacrifices screen time to be in a movie that a)a broad audience actually wants to see, and b)gets to work with people both off and on camera that have their own star power, lots of experience, and talent.

I'd love it if they could recognize that. IDG why it seems like they are so against this. He's got to build credibility within the industry and with a broader base than Burrs, Ortega, Shankman, etc. And if he's not the only name people recognize so be it.
Beejeezbee on August 3rd, 2010 04:12 am (UTC)
I think it's not that Zac wouldn't be interested in having a supporting role with a great cast - the problem is that he's a "distraction" for many movies and therefore directors won't cast him.

If the leads are A-listers - they don't need him, so why bother and if the leads are established actors but not super big names, his participation would turn the movie into a "Zac Efron movie" since he has the highest media profile... and that is something no director or lead actor wants. You want your leads to be the focus and not a supporting actor, esp if that actor doesn't have the desired credibility with the target demo.

In short, his media popularity is a hindrance for him to get supporting roles in bigger movies. I doubt it has much to do with him not being interested in a good supporting role with a great cast.
hlloyd04 on August 3rd, 2010 04:18 am (UTC)
Thanks for this. And it makes perfect sense. I don't have near the perspective that you do, and I didn't mean to imply that he was unwilling to be a supporting actor, I just personally would love to see him in a big ensemble piece. For some reason a movie like "The Hangover" keeps coming to mind. Not that it's the best film ever made, but that it was a great ensemble and stretched it's appeal across several audiences. But, I definitely see what you're saying, and why something like this is much easier said than done.
Beejeezbee on August 3rd, 2010 04:25 am (UTC)
Don't get me wrong, I would love to see this too and I think it would be great way to get more exposure to new demographics. I'm just saying it's easier said than done due to his profile.

For him to not overshadow the leads (media-wise), those actors need to be basically A-list... and those movies are limited to begin with.

I remember talking with C about wanting him to have a supporting role in Larry Crowne which is headlined by Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. That would have worked great but alas it obviously didn't happen.
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Shruticalcified on August 2nd, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC)
Right? Next project: Troy Bolton/Edward Cullen: Hard Times In A Tree.
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Shruti: Vampire | Brotherscalcified on August 3rd, 2010 12:06 am (UTC)
What evocative dialogue.
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(no subject) - calcified on August 3rd, 2010 12:05 am (UTC) (Expand)
bettybaby63bettybaby63 on August 3rd, 2010 02:54 am (UTC)
*snort...

i can only applaud that he beat out RobStew....

does that make me evil?
Beejeezbee on August 3rd, 2010 12:09 am (UTC)
While I absolutely agree that he needs to find a project which people want to see independently from Zac (as you know), I think to really become a star you need star vehicles too.

But it needs to be a healthy mix and esp in the beginning when he has to overcome so many prejudices with new audiences, he can't do that with traditional vehicles. For that, he needs to be part of movies people watch "despite" him. (Although doing only movies like that doesn't make you a star. See Orlando Bloom or Tobey Maguire.)

Warner Bros has invested a lot in Zac with giving him that production deal. But for them to have this investment pay off (and I'm absolutely convinced it can), they need to help him into one of those "event" movies.

For example, Jack the Giant Killer would be absolutely perfect. Not only is it a fantasy movie (ie not hardcore fanboy stuff but rather a 4-quadrant movie which also attracts families where his star power can even help) but the lead character is PERFECT for him. I admit that some projects I would hope he gets, he is a stretch for the role but here he truly is a great fit - in about everything from age, statue, personality and dynamic. If WB wants to maximize the value of the movies he's developing, they should get him in there. But I know it's not going to happen and I'll be very frustrated when they announce casting. w/e.
Shruticalcified on August 3rd, 2010 12:13 am (UTC)
They're gunning for an unknown for that, right? =/

Just so everyone knows, I didn't mean that needs to be in films with other actors/directors who have big names (though that would be nice too). I meant what you're saying here - movies that are interesting in any way beyond just him. Not just....that Zac Efron movie. That can only take him so far.
Bee: Zac - GQ - In Car 1 (full)jeezbee on August 3rd, 2010 12:19 am (UTC)
Yeah. That's at least what they are saying. :(

There was an article a while back which said that Singer was talking to Andrew Garfield and Aaron Johnson. Who aren't unknowns to fanboys but probably to the general public.

It's particularly frustrating because I honestly think he would be great in that role. I hope his people are trying everything... studios often change their mind.
(no subject) - calcified on August 3rd, 2010 12:20 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ehs_wildcats on August 3rd, 2010 12:36 am (UTC) (Expand)