Monday, April 6, 2009

Zac Efron grows up For New Film Role

ZAC EFRON is sitting inside a Sydney hotel room, conducting all-day interviews with various media outlets, unable to get outdoors to the sunshine. That's until his PR woman whispers apologetically to me: "I hope it's OK but Zac would like to sit out by the pool for the interview, he just wants to get some fresh air."
In that moment, it's hard not to think of the thousands - make that millions - of teenage girls who would just about hyperventilate at those words: Zac Efron, by the pool.
When the 21-year-old says his first hello, ducking his head politely around a corner at the Park Hyatt's rooftop pool, he is dressed in regular jeans and a shirt, with a slight frame, medium height and what appear to be the biggest blue eyes in the world. (And he's not afraid to use them: Efron never averts his wide-eyed, pale-blue gaze throughout the entire interview.)
"Look around, who wouldn't want to be here," he says, sweeping his arm in the direction of Sydney Harbour. "I've always had an affinity towards the ocean and towards a beach lifestyle, and no place does that better than Australia - I'm always drawn to this area.
"Actually, this is one of the few places where I can surf these days ..." he says, trailing off mid-sentence, sounding a little relieved that he can still occasionally pay a visit to a local beach and not be recognised.
Elsewhere in the world, that's getting harder and harder because Efron is an A-list Hollywood heart-throb. After appearing in the Disney telemovie High School Musical and its sequels (including the big-screen release High School Musical 3) plus a film version of the musical Hairspray, he has millions of teenage fans around the world.
"You know, I'm human, I hope I'm not disappointing," says Efron with a laugh, about his red-carpet appearances. "Inevitably it's exciting, whatever it is, as long as they're happy - as long as the fans are happy."
Efron is now so used to teenage girls screaming, he can actually differentiate between the types of screams in various countries. "Absolutely, there's definitely trends," he says, smiling. "I'd say Australia's probably a higher decibel level than, for instance, Japan. You know, Japan's a very quiet scream. It's a very polite, bowing scream ... it's very excited but hush hush. Australians aren't afraid to show their enthusiasm."
Given his immense popularity, it would be easy to assume Efron is somehow affected by his stature as the world's newest pin-up boy. He grew up in an everyday working family in California (his dad worked as an engineer at a power plant, his mum was a secretary), so there must be an extraordinary confidence that comes with this level of Hollywood success.

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