A Date with Zac Efron
Newsflash for women and girls nationwide...
Zac Efron has officially shed his "High School Musical" tweeny bopper status. Though he initially made his mark on Hollywood as singing basketball star Troy, over the past two years, he has managed to tackle roles that have not only made him a heartthrob with tweens and teens, but he's melted the hearts of plenty of thirty and forty something moms too.
In fact, last summer, I caught Zac in "17 Again" along with my daughter, and there was something about him that reminded me of all those great looking young actors I used to have major crushes on when I was in high school. If you're around my age, how can you forget Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon, Kevin Bacon, Michael J. Fox, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, all those boys from "The Outsiders," Emilio Estevez (gotta love "Breakfast Club") and even that guy who starred opposite Molly Ringwald as Jake in "Sixteen Candles" whose name I've since forgotten (sorry about that dude).
While The forty and fifty (yikes) something members of "The Brat Pack" are for the most part still looking quite fine, they have been replaced. First it was Leonardo Dicaprio and then came Matt Damon, but now, it looks like Zac Efron is coming into his own and earning a spot at the leading man table.
Recently, I was invited to attend the movie junket in California for "Charlie St. Cloud," starring you guessed it, Zac Efron. Thankfully, I received the invite at the perfect time - my daughter was in sleepaway camp and my son would get the chance to spend some quality time with his dad and my parents. And so, over the course of 24 hours, I hopped on a plane, attended a private screening, enjoyed a cocktail party with a group of amazing mom writers and interviewed the cast, producer and director of the film.
In addition to myself, our roundtable discussion was attended by seven mom bloggers who, just like me, traveled from all over the country so we could participate in this exclusive opportunity.
In the film, Zac plays Charlie, a high school senior who has just earned a full sailing scholarship to Stanford University. Despite the fact he'll be leaving in the fall, he promises his younger brother Sam, played by Charlie Tahan, that he will practice baseball with him every night until he heads off for college. Unfortunately, a tragic car accident prevents Charlie from achieving his dreams. While both boys technically die during the crash, Charlie is brought back to life by a paramedic named Florio, played by Ray Liotta, and though he assures his brother he won't leave him, he inevitably must let him go. Wracked with guilt, Charlie abandons his future plans when he discovers he can miraculously reconnect with his brother in the woods next to the cemetery where he's buried. Sam appears each night when the cannons sound with his baseball glove in hand, eager to play catch with his older brother.
There's also an intense romance in the film between Efron's character and actress Amanda Crew, who portrays Tess, a rising sailing star determined to brave the elements and travel solo around the world. In a surreal twist of fate, Tess inevitably wins Charlie's heart - forcing him to choose between saving her or spending the rest of his life with Sam.
Though many of us had a bout with nervous laughter when we first met Zac - he is strikingly handsome in that Brad Pitt/Leonardo Dicaprio sort of way, we quickly learned he's not just a pretty face. He's a promising actor who plans to tackle many more serious roles in his career. In fact, he's even started his own production company called Ninjas Running Wild where he is pouring over scripts from new writers and putting a team in place to produce movies. Despite the fame, fortune and success, Zac has not let the destructive nature of Hollywood affect him. Instead, he's taken the high road (thanks to his parents) and is incredibly down to earth, friendly, funny and grateful for all that he's achieved so far.
When we asked him how he was able to connect with his character, Zac said he instantly thought about what he'd feel like if he had lost his own brother. Efron says he's incredibly overprotective of his younger brother Dylan, who plays an important role in his life. He says, " I feel very responsible for my brother and I try and protect him every chance I get. I'm very protective over him and just thought in some ways whatever it took to (think about) leaving him behind, was all that I needed to get there emotionally. And not to mention he looks a lot like him (Charlie Tahan)."
Curious about whether Zac believes in ghosts too, I asked him if he had felt creeped out filming so many scenes in a cemetery. Zac said that while they were shooting, they didn't feel scared because there were so many crew members around at the time. However, during a late night shoot, Zac says, "at around 4 in the morning Amanda and I were kind of falling asleep and we said let’s go do something so I said, do you want to walk into the graveyard? So we left set for a little while and kind of got lost in the graveyard and suddenly it was very scary."
As we started to laugh about his spooky encounter, Malia, a writer for Blissfully Domestic confided that she never contemplated cemeteries as a place for romance but thanks to Zac Efron, "he's made cemeteries sexy." Once again, we all doubled over in laughs and before we knew it, our time with Zac had come to an end.
But before he left to complete some more interviews, Zac posed with all of us for a quick photo and then shook our hands to thank us for our time. Can you believe it? We were all excited and giddy about the prospect of meeting him and he was actually looking forward to meeting us too! In fact, this is what he said, "We are just so excited that you were here for this. This is a movie about family and about the strength of family and I’m just so happy that you guys are here and you care to come out. Thank you very much."
And there you have it. My daughter and I now have something in common. We both officially heart Zac Efron.