The High School Musical pin-up talks about his latest body-swap movie 17 Again
He’s the face of a generation and in that face we see 1001 screaming tween girls – dancing themselves into a prepubescent frenzy. The High School Musical star has graduated and is finally all grown up but girls, don’t fret for Zack Efron isn’t too eager to leave the classroom behind. In “17 Again”, Efron plays a middle aged man, trapped in a loveless marriage. Forunately he wakes up one morning as his young high school self. Cue much hilarity, misunderstanding, and dad getting to hang out with his teenage kids undercover. Here, Movies.ie catches up with the actor to chat all things Efron.
Q: In 17 Again you play a teenage father who abandons his college dreams for family life in the suburbs. Would you like to be a young husband and father?
ZE: The very idea of kids at this point is frightening to me. Maybe it’s over-exposure at a young age to a lot of kids!? Right now, I think I’m honestly, deep-down, too selfish. So it’s like I don’t have that longing yet. I think eventually, maybe, it will come.
Q: Did you plan on going to college yourself?
ZE: I wanted to study film at USC but after I was accepted to go, I deferred and, since then, I just haven’t really had time to go back. It’s also, I’ve been studying films on a daily basis in a very different way.
Q: Your young High School Musical fans will be surprised to see you in this role?
ZE: I hope so! Most of the scripts I get are very teen orientated, very young: a lot of high school romances and comedies. So when I read the script for 17 Again, it caught my attention because it was an opportunity for me to essentially play a 37-year-old guy. For me this didn’t seem like the most obvious choice which made it all the more interesting and fun.
Q: Do you get along with older women?
ZE: Since I was young, very young, I’ve always got along with adults as well as, if not better, than kids my own age.
Q: What did you think about Friends star Matthew Perry being cast as the older you?
ZE: As soon as they suggested Matthew, I couldn’t even imagine what he was like as a teenager so that was just very exciting to me.
Q: Would you want to look like Matthew Perry in 20 years?
ZE: Umm, yeah, sure, sure, gosh.
Q: Have you thought about what it would be like when you’re 37?
ZE: I’m scared of what I’m gonna be like when I’m 37! I don’t even want to imagine what I’m going to be like when I’m 37. I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow. I don’t know what I’m going to be like in a year. So I can’t really make like a 20-year plan. I’m pretty sure I could be a million places.
Q: In your opinion what is a 37-year-old man like?
ZE: They’re on a different chapter of their live. Personally, people tell me like you’re so confused in your teens; your 20s you’re finding out who you are; your 30s, you start living your life, and then, close to your 40s, that’s I guess when you might start to go through kind of an early midlife crisis. But there’s no way I can personally relate to that.
Q: Did you get any advice from your own dad for this role?
ZE: Absolutely, absolutely. I told my dad; ‘All I really have to go on here is how you raised me, and the advice you gave me, and the lectures you gave me,’ and he just shook his head and said, ‘You better not be too honest. You better not give everything away . . .’ I think he was pretty nervous about the whole thing.
Q: Do you believe in waiting for true love before having sex?
ZE: Sure, that’s what my parents told me. That’s what I believe; that’s what I was brought up to believe.
Q: Really? Sex after marriage?
ZE: I think everyone at some point that – it’s just how soon you change your own opinions, you know?!
Q: But what if you did find yourself in the position where your girlfriend announced she was pregnant. How would you react?
ZE: I mean, there’s nothing you can do to prepare for it. I guess you take the necessary precautions. That was advice that was given to me very early on and I’ve followed it very well.
Q: What do you do when 14-year-old girls throw themselves at you? Do you have a stock line you give them?
ZE: Oh man, it happens every day. But I have great conversations with them. They get excited and I talk to them and I try and say it was nice to meet them. I love it when kids come up and ask advice. A lot of them want to know about the arts; a lot of them have questions about high school, stuff like that. And I find that very flattering, that I’m relatable.
Q: Do you expect 17 Again will result in a lot more older female fans?
ZE: Absolutely! Throughout High School Musical, there’s been a teenage following. But even more than that there’s always been the moms from the very beginning.
Q: Ah! Because the mums come with the kids?
ZE: Yes. It’s actually the more exciting, well not more exciting, the more interesting, fan encounters are usually with moms.
Q: What do the mothers do?
ZE: All kinds of stuff. You never know what’s going to happen. It’s funny because the kids can be shy but the moms feel like they know you to a degree. They come across as very comfortable in some ways – almost motherly! They want to give me advice and talk to me and ask how I’m doing, if I’m OK, and sometimes they want to go and get a bite to eat! Yeeaaaah. Stuff like that!
Q: How difficult was it to find chemistry with an actress who is almost twice your age?
ZE: I had no idea how it would turn out, but after five minutes of talking with Leslie, I had a crush on her, so that was very easy to do, she’s so natural and funny and sweet.
Q: Was it awkward filming the slow dancing scene with Leslie?
ZE: Sure, there were a couple of scenes when we messed up, if I would screw up a line or something, sure it was little awkward… now I’m blushing!