As Troy in Disney’s wildly popular High School Musical series, Zac Efron has never had a problem playing the popular guy – maybe that’s because in his case, art has taken inspiration from life. With the third chapter of High School Musical hitting theatres October 24th, the heartthrob carves out an acting career beyond his Disney days, and continues to prove that he’s still the coolest kid in town.
Though Zac has a line-up of projects in the works, this month he’ll reunite with his on-and-off-screen girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens for the third (and final) installment of the High School Musical trilogy: High School Musical Three: Senior Year. Though he may not be revealing much when it comes to plotlines, Zac is dishing about Troy and the changes Senior Year brings to him and his relationship with Gabriella. “The stakes are higher,” Zac explains, “because there are real decisions to be made. What college are you going to? What happens to the girl? It’s fun,” he smiles, “watching Troy grow into a man.”
For legions of Zac’s admirers, Troy’s journey to adulthood is made all the more interesting since Zac himself is navigating a similar transition. Next year, he’ll star in a pair of films that promise to position him in a slightly different light. The first, 17 Again, has Zac sharing a role with former Friends star Matthew Perry. “It was hard to play someone that I couldn’t relate to in the slightest,” Zac admits. “But the director taught me a lot about the art of acting, which I hadn’t been schooled in before. I’ve got a better understanding of what it means to be an actor now.”
With a newfound appreciation for his craft, Zac took a sincere interest in classic cinema while filming the buzzed-about period piece, Me and Orson Welles. “I would never have, until now, called myself a movie buff,” he reveals. “But I’ve found so many films that I never knew existed” – citing first Marlon Brando’s performance in 1954’s On the Waterfront, and the iconic characters originated by Paul Newman in The Hustler and The Color of Money.
While Zac may be looking to the past when it comes to movies, it’s safe to say that he, along with his fellow High School Musical costars, are the modern day brat pack – complete with all the gossip, romances, and incessant interest from the tabloid press. Yet as Zac grows more accustomed to the usual mob of paparazzi documenting his every move, he often longs for his days of anonymity. “You don’t realize until it’s gone,” he says collecting his thoughts, “but it is so important to feel normal.” Though slipping back to obscurity may not be in the cards for Zac these days, he remains excited about the possibilities that fame provides him. “I’m not going to complain,” he laughs. “But it’s something I’m learning to cope with.”
ETA: I wonder if Zac is actually reading Dan Eldon's journals or if the book is just a prop.
TeenVogue for the images and Article/Cover