Zac Efron: Nerds Are ‘Always the Coolest People’
In PARADE’s July 25 cover story with Charlie St. Cloud star Zac Efron, the 22-year-old actor gives an inside look into how he spends his summers and opens up about his “partner in crime” Vanessa Hudgens.
In these exclusive extras, Efron talks about leaving his teen-idol phase behind for his latest role as a young man torn between mourning the loss of his brother and moving on with his life. Plus, what he misses most about his high school days and how he came to be known as a “floater.”
What attracted him to such a sobering role.
“Every once in awhile, you read a script and you get that special feeling in your gut. I was touched by what the character, Charlie, goes through, and I thought it was a story worth sharing. And the fact that I have a little brother myself gave it a lot of resonance.”
See exclusive photos from our photo shoot with Zac
Taking a break to spend some much-needed time with his brother.
“[I] kicked off the summer by taking my little brother, Dylan, on a graduation trip to Hawaii. He’s going off to college next year, and I’ve been working very hard, so we haven’t been able to see each other as much as we would have liked to in the past few years. We hiked through the inner jungle in Maui, and you come across these really beautiful spots. We found this hidden place where there was an enormous waterfall and cliff jump. It was about a thirty-five foot drop.”
Taking the plunge.
“Once you’ve done it, the funny part is trying to convince someone else to jump off, too. I’m the one who’s always saying, ‘Go for it, go for it — jump!’ And then when you come up out of the water, you feel fantastic.”
On his performance in Me and Orson Welles,” featuring a distinguished cast of older English actors.
“It was pretty intimidating at first. So I really had to convince myself that I had the right to be there. But that’s where the rush is. You say, ‘Can I really do this? Can I pull it off?’ The fun part of acting is testing your limits in every way, constantly throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. But since you never know how it’s gonna wind up, it’s a lot like gambling.”
When Zac considers his next career move, he thinks of it like a poker player.
“I learned problem-solving from my dad; with him, everything is logical and has to make sense.”
From Disney Kid to Hollywood Heartthrob — See photos of Zac Efron Through the Years
His dad works as an engineer at a power plant, although Zac confesses that he’s not quite sure what he does.
“I’m not exactly sure what he’s in charge of. He’s kind of top secret about it; he could in fact be a spy and be lying to me about the whole thing.”
Growing up, his parents noticed that he had an uncanny knack for imitating any song on the radio.
“I still like to sing along with whatever I’m listening to. I just got a pretty good sound system put in, and it’s playing on a loop all day. If I don’t have music on, I get this weird kind of anxiety. I don’t like to be home alone without something playing.”
Home is a small, secluded retreat in the Hollywood Hills, shielded by greenery, dense bamboo, and, as Zac is quick to advertise, “crazy, crazy security to keep people out.”
Luckily, he has help from girlfriend and “HSM” co-star Vanessa Hudgens.
“I’m not neat by nature, but I’m kind of figuring it out — and Vanessa helps out a lot. Right now, we’re doing great and just having a lot of fun together.”
Was he a part of a clique in school like his character in High School Musical?
“I never noticed them in my own high school. And if there were cliques, I probably intermixed with all of them. I was probably what you’d call a floater.”
How much do you know about the “Charlie St. Cloud” star? Take our Zac Efron quiz!
He was studying hard for his Advanced Placement classes just a few short years ago.
“Looking back at that AP stuff now, we probably were the nerds. But that’s okay — they’re always the coolest people.”
Still a student at heart.
“I start to think, ‘Am I missing out on something?’ I’m not in school at the moment, so I tend to overcompensate by trying to learn as much as I can about everything else, and by tackling life full-on. I’m just soaking up everything I can. I’d like to see the whole world.”
— Robert Masello
Check out the full interview in the Sunday, July 25, issue of PARADE, available in your Sunday newspaper.