Zac Efron was turning gay heads way before director Lee Daniels stripped him to his skivvies for the pulpy, ’60s-set southern thriller “The Paperboy,” which steams up theaters October 5. The “High School Musical” heartthrob is finally ready to return the love in his first gay press interview, which even he acknowledges is long overdue.
It’s good to see you return to your dancing roots with Nicole Kidman in the trailer for “The Paperboy,” but your moves seem to have gotten wetter and more naked.
Believe it or not, that dance in the rain wasn’t planned. Nicole’s fun to work with because she’s very improvisational. She just started dancing with me, and we went with the moment.
Surely you knew that scene would attract some prurient attention.
With a scene like that, you just have to stick with it and see where it takes you. After the fact, though, I remember thinking, Oh, jeez, what did I just get myself into?
Matthew McConaughey, your “The Paperboy” costar, helped design his thong for Magic Mike. Did you help select your white briefs?
I did, yeah. It’s a period movie, so there weren’t really a lot of choices. Initially, I wondered if my character would even wear underwear at all. But that would’ve been a very different movie.
After your involvement in last year’s “Footloose” remake fell through, fans worried that you might be done with musicals for good. Do you see more musical theater in your future?
Without a doubt, I’d love to do Broadway. I actually can’t wait to get back to musical theater. There’s a part of me that wishes I could go do it right now, but there’s also a part of me that knows I need to tackle other types of acting opportunities first. I want to be a well-rounded, versatile performer. Until I master other things, it would be hard for me to get back to musical theater. But that will always be my home base and where I feel the most free, and it’s something I will definitely do again, even it it’s just for pleasure and personal fulfillment.
“The Paperboy” also marks McConaughey’s first gay role. Are you interested in tackling a gay character?
I’d never take a role just for the sake of playing gay, but I’m always looking for a role that’s challenging, different, and entails some risk, so there’s no doubt in my mind that one of those characters will be gay at some point in the future. It’s always interesting to delve into unexplored territory, and that would be a new avenue for me. I definitely wouldn’t be afraid.
[Continue reading the interview]