If there’s any dreamier actor in movies today than Zac Efron, we haven’t met him. Since becoming a cultural phenomenon in the “High School Musical” movies, the former Disney star has slowly but effectively built a career for himself as a leading man in movies like “Hairspray,” “17 Again,” and his latest effort, “Charlie St. Cloud,” which reunites him with his “17 Again” director Burr Steers, and offers audiences another opportunity to gaze into those crystal blue eyes of his.
In the film, Efron plays the title character, an ambitious high school graduate who foregoes a promising college career after his younger brother dies in an automobile accident. Hollywood News sat down with Efron last weekend at the Los Angeles press day for “Charlie St. Cloud,” where he discussed the challenges of the role, explored his own evolution as an actor, and examined the “it factor” that has found him a place among Hollywood’s most in-demand movie stars.
You and Charlie Tahan have terrific chemistry as brothers on screen. Did you have a lot of time to get to know one another before filming began?
Zac Efron: Yeah. We tried to have fun and do stuff outside of set. What’d we do? We went to hockey games. We saw a bunch of sports and stuff. And then we just played catch every day and sort of got in that rhythm. Yeah, it was fun.
You helped Burr Steers get the job directing this. Why did you decide you wanted to work with him again after “17 Again”?
Zac Efron: I didn’t so much get Burr the job. Burr called me and said, “are you serious about this? Because I’m in.” And I’m like, all right. Let’s do it, you know. So, he really responded to it. And that was just exciting to me. I was stoked. I knew this was even more so in Burr’s wheelhouse than “17 Again.” And I just knew we’d be lucky to have him involved.
What is Burr like as a director?
Zac Efron: He’s very generous with the actors. It’s funny, ’cause Burr is rare to give a camera note or anything like that, but guaranteed, every take he’s running over to talk to us. And he’s got so much to say – an opinion or a new point of view or something to think about. Which is great for me. I enjoy that much attention from your director. I think it’s great. When they’re not worried about the other stuff, they really care about your performance. He’s performance oriented, definitely, deep down.