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The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud - Zac Efron interview

Charlie St Cloud

Compiled by Jack Foley

ZAC Efron talks about his decision to move to more serious roles, post High School Musical and some of the challenges involved in making The Death & Life of Charlie St Cloud.

He also talks about how his career is shaping up, why he’s launched his own production company and talks a little about his current look: with a beard!

Q. You have evident affection for Charlie but he started out life as words on a page of Ben Sherwood’s novel, so how did you find your own way to Charlie St.Cloud and how did you come to inhabit him as a character?
Zac Efron: Yeah, I read the script first and when I read it there were so many similarities between Charlie and my own sort of philosophy. Early on, when he’s about to go to school, which is where I found myself a couple of years ago and when this all started to happen, I had that sort of mentality that if I put my mind to it I could accomplish anything and that was really the mantra that was responsible for me. Also the relationship between the brothers; I thought it was very well written, something that I had some personal insight into, some perspective on – I could relate to Charlie and the story in a lot of ways.

Q: Given some of the themes of the film, how important was it to have Field of Dreams star Ray Liotta? And how was it having your life saved on screen by him rather than having it sent in the other direction as it has in so many other films?
Zac Efron: I will never forget being in that scene, I just remember Ray saying: “Come on fight me man fight me!” And I’m like: “I don’t want to!” He was really going for it with those paddles and it was intense. It was really cool to be willed to do more by him. I realised that at the level Ray’s at there’s no inhibition – you know he’s totally not afraid and I appreciate this. It was a very cool experience to be brought back to life by Ray Liotta!

Q: What sort of roles do you like to take on?
Zac Efron: As far as growing up and picking roles I don’t really know, but I’d say this turned out to be an ideal role. Working with Burr and figuring out Charlie’s character – I wouldn’t change the experience for the world. But did I know before I read the script? No not at all, so it’s like I can’t necessarily pin point, other than really the sort of genre it would be in.

Q: What kinds of roles would you like to do in the future as an actor?
Zac Efron: I don’t know… good ones! I don’t know yet, there’s nothing that’s not appealing to me right now. It’s just a matter of wrapping my head around it, probably ones that are a bit scary.

Q: Have you seen a ghost in real life? If so can you give us a bit of detail?
Zac Efron: Only in Disneyland, I haven’t seen any in real life, so I don’t have any details to share right now.

Q: What was it like working with your younger co-star Charlie Tahan, and does he remind you of your-self when you were starting out?
Zac Efron: He’s way further along than I was! He really is, the first thing within minutes of meeting him I remember… it’s so weird being in an audition where I sort of figured out he was perfect for it… we were outside the audition room, he’s got this really funny intelligent sensibility about him. He’s super smart and I had more fun times and conversations with him on-set than anyone else.

Q: You’ve recently started a production company and bought rights to a Swedish film is that correct? I just wondered what it’s called and what do you plan to do with it?
Zac Efron: It’s called Snaba Cash, or Starter Cash and you know we were looking at all sorts of things but trying to find something in the crime world. I really like the story because it’s a guy who for very innocent reasons finds himself in over his head which just about explains everything in my life at this point so I like that, and the movie was incredibly well done. So we’re having a really great time right now adapting it and making it more American… sort of.

Q: You don’t really feel like you’re in over your head do you?
Zac Efron: Ah yeah, well sometimes, sure.

Q: Just going back to the film – you’ve got a great relationship with your brother, do you ever get to the point of punching with him… I mean what’s your relationship like with your brother?
Zac Efron: We go way past punching [joking]. It got really serious at times. We would watch 3 Ninjas or The Matrix.

Q: But what really is your relationship like with him?
Zac Efron: It’s good. I mean he’s 18 now and he’s going to college, I think the older he gets the more he’s… well he’s just now like a real person to me again. All of a sudden he’s not my little brother anymore…he’s just my brother you know, I don’t know we’re in a different place and we’re starting to become even better friends than when we were growing up.

Q: Just going back to when you said you were in over your head can you tell us a bit about what it’s like being you and being in such a big movie franchise?
Zac Efron: I don’t know… it’s exciting, the stakes are high, and I’ve got a lot to learn. But at the same time I feel hungry and ambitious and in no way does the task at hand feel daunting, you know I’m just purely trying to navigate all the twists and turns right now. I mean there’s never been a more exciting time and I learned a lot from Burr in this movie. Honestly, I’m just excited about everything right now, with the production company it’s like we’ve really got the ball moving

Q: You probably get this question a lot I know I do, but do you think that being good looking has held you back in your career?
Zac Efron: You know what? It’s a big part of why I’m here and it’s a big part of why my fans come to the movies… but at the same time it just makes me more driven to get to people that aren’t so easily swayed by that sort of thing you know what I mean!

Q: …do you come up against that; I mean have you gone in to talk to somebody and known that they have a pre-conception about you?
Zac Efron: I used to get in those conversations all the time but you know now I have this ugly beard so it’s slowing down [laughs].

Q: Is the beard for a particular reason or are you just relaxed?
Zac Efron: It could be for something… I don’t know! I’m just sort of testing it out, like how do you know what it’s going to look like if you’ve never grown one and just to set fire to the Internet.

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud is released in the UK on October 8.