A recurring role on Summerland made Zac Efron a popular newcomer, but that was nothing compared to High School Musical. Ever since it premiered on Disney Channel, Zac has been mobbed everywhere he goes! Pretty soon, Zac will rejoin the rest of the cast to make a sequel that will begin on the last day of school and follow the characters over summer vacation. We know youíre excited about that, and so is Zac! He filled us in about that and the amazing life heís leading these days.
IML: For those few people who may not have seen High School Musical yet, tell us about your character.
Zac: I play Troy Bolton, cool guy, super jock extraordinaire, who meets Gabriella on vacation and thereís a connection. And when we come back to school we have to sort of break through the peer groups in order to come together. He gets all the cool girls. He's like the dream character to play. He's kind of like Danny Zuko in Grease. I think that every guy would like being more like Troy when they were in high school. I wish I was more like him because he's so cool. He's so good at basketball.
IML: Did you have any idea when you were making the movie how successful it would become?
Zac: Honestly, I don't think any of us had that high kind of expectations. I think that it was just luck. I think all of us came together and when we clicked on set, that was when I started to realize that this thing could be big. We all got along so great, and we all came together. In that moment, before started filming, our connection on set just really made the movie what it is.
IML: What kind of reactions do you get from fans now?
Zac: Watching kids react to the film is incredible. With kids you get a very pure sense of joy when they see you, and that's really fun. Because I remember when I was a kid, you used to see the people you look up to and when they sign that little piece of paper it made your day. We went to a school recreation area on a Saturday where the kids were putting on a performance of the show, and we went in and read lines with them. They were so serious about it. They were having so much fun doing the scene. It was an incredible experience.
IML: Youíve been doing a lot of travel and appearances for the movie. Any memorable experiences?
Zac: Jimmy Kimmelís show was really fun. Ian McKellen was there, and heís one of my heroes. We may go to London to promote the movie and he said, "Come by and I will personally give you a tour of the city."
IML: Has it ever gotten crazy in public? What was your most memorable incident?
Zac: It was a Cheetah Girls concert, watching Aly & A.J.-- theyíre friends of mine and they gave me tickets to watch them perform. The entire audience swarmed Ashley and me, and it was before the movie had even come out. And since the movie came out it has been escalating completely. Now that itís going international, itís growing exponentially!
IML: Do you have a favorite classic movie musical?
Zac: Singiní in the Rain -- especially Donald OíConnorís ďMake Them LaughĒ song. Iíve watched it 50 times probably in one night, laughing harder every time.
IML: Troy is a jock. Are you?
Zac: Iíve always been a sports fan. Iím a serious Giants fan. I love the Lakers. And although I wanted to be a player when I was younger I was too small. Iíve always been a small kid. It took me a long time before I actually started growing. I was bad at Little League baseball and I think I scored two points my entire basketball season. Now I play a game of basketball every once in a while. Iím athletic -- I go to the gym five days a week. Itís so important, you feel incredible.
IML: Itís a big deal for Troy to try out for the school musical. Was it for you?
Zac: Yeah. I was actually forced by my dad into my first musical. My dad convinced me to go out and audition. I said yes, thinking it was a few months away and Iíd somehow talk myself out of it by then. Little did I know it was like the next day! So I went into this audition kicking and screaming, and little did I know my dad had just showed me the coolest thing on earth at the time. He opened so many doors for me. I started auditioning for every single play that was in our area. Luckily, I booked some of the roles and started doing very well.
IML: Are you getting offers for more roles now that youíre so popular?
Zac: Nothing concrete at this point.
IML: How about recording opportunities?
Zac: Recording offers come incessantly but like Iíve said from the beginning, Iím gonna really work hard at an album and at this point I donít feel that I have the musical skills or the ability to write my own music. And Iím not gonna have someone write it for me.
IML: If you could choose, what kind of role would you want?
Zac: Iíd love to play Tobey Maguireís role in Spider-Man. Maybe I can be his sidekick or a villain in the movie -- that would be great.
IML: How do you feel about doing the High School Musical sequel?
Zac: All the promotion and traveling the world is fun, but filming the movie was where the magic happened, so I canít wait to go back and experience that one more time with my friends.
IML: What would people be surprised to know about you?
Zac: I donít have a fancy car, I donít live in a mansion. Everyone thinks that along with the movie that you get rewarded monetarily. You donít.
IML: Whatís the geekiest thing about you?
Zac: My comic book collection.
IML: What do you do in your spare time?
Zac: I wish I had more spare time! I hang out with friends, goof off, be a kid.
IML: Is it hard to have a social life when youíre always flying somewhere for work?
Zac: Sometimes it can be a little tough to see my friends because Iím gone so much but Iím enjoying it.
IML: How about dating -- what do you like in a girl?
Zac: Just someone I can have a conversation with.
IML: Anything you donít like?
Zac: If youíre on a date, donít be constantly humming a song. I was with a person who was doing that and it was SO annoying!
IML: One downside of fame and popularity is all the rumors that pop up about you. How do you handle that?
Zac: You just roll with it. Rumors are always gonna be a part of it -- thatís the dirty side. I have always been in this industry for the work. I love being on set, filming the movie, working with the actors, directors and writers, and putting out great material. All the stuff that comes with it is extra. The recognition, the notoriety, is a bonus. The press is sometimes a chore but you have to do it. It comes with the territory.
IML: We asked some of our IMLíers to send in questions for you. This question is from Julia, 12, who asks: ďIn my school, girls are usually more interested in trying out for musicals than boys. How do we change that?Ē
Zac: Guys are in a good position to avoid musicals and theater and I think a lot of that comes from the crowd that hangs out in drama -- the kids are not the coolest. I wasnít a part of my high school drama department. But you shouldnít let that small detail get in the way of you following your dreams!
IML: This question is from Alexis, 10: ďWere you ever made fun of when you were in middle school?Ē
Zac: Constantly. Thatís what built my character. Thatís what makes you who you are. When you get made fun of, when people point out your weaknesses, thatís just another opportunity for you to rise above.
IML: Whatís the best way to handle it?
Zac: You laugh with it. If someone calls you names and you laugh they have no grounds to make fun of you for it ever again.
IML: How about handling stress?
Zac: I eat right, exercise, and sleep a lot!
IML: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Zac: Iíd like to see myself still doing this. High School Musical #48!
IML: That would be awesome! Thanks, Zac!
Zac: Thank you!
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