After stumping critical speculation with his successful break into the mainstream world of cinema in last year’s Me And Orson Welles, the most beloved fruit of Disney’s labor is back to impress. Zac Efron stars in this weekend’s Universal Pictures release of Charlie St. Cloud, directed by Burr Steers (17 Again, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days). With eight films in current development and a worldwide promotional tour for the film, we were  still able to sit down with the heart throb to discuss the picture.

Check out the interview below…

You recently worked with Burr on 17 Again. Rumor has it you got him the job…

Zac Efron: I didn’t so much get Burr the job, he called me and said are you serious about this? Because I’m in. And I thought, alright let’s do it. He really responded to it. And that was just exciting to me. I knew this was even more in Burr’s wheel house than 17 Again. I knew we’d be lucky to have him involved. He’s very generous with actors. He rarely gives a camera note. But guaranteed, every take, he’s running over to talk to us. He has so much to say. Which is great for me – he’s performance oriented, definitely.

Aside from Shia Labeouf, few Disney actors have been able to make the transition into mainstream work. Your past two films indicate that you’re heading in that direction. Were you set on turning down projects that might continue to categorize you as a”teen star” or “disney spawn”?

There’s definitely a style to those films that I didn’t want to stick with forever. It’s incredibly fun, very addictive those movies. I’m constantly chasing that dragon, so to speak? Trying to bring that energy into all the things that I do. Me and my manager are trying to make movies with substance… rather than doing movies like High School Musical, I’d rather move on and do new things, see how deep the rabbit hole goes. That’s just diversity. I noticed very early on, even during HSM – I knew the actors and the movies I was seeing were nothing like HSM. The movies I appreciated were about diversity, innovation.. not being afraid to take risks. I think that’s what we’re trying to do.

What sort of projects are you gravitating towards?

Zac Efron: It’s not like I have total freedom to do whatever I want to do right now. I think that I look at movies, now there’s a million factors, but first and foremost the type of movie, the messages… I really do care about the audience that’s been so devoted to me so far. I’d hate to leave them behind or betray them in any way. The best way to think of it is to stay relevant. I want to grow up, live my life, experience things, make movies about those experiences… and by the time my audience catches up hopefully they’ll have a movie there to get them through that next phase… when they realize life isn’t always like High School Musical.

Burr, and probably the rest of the universe, insist that you very much possess an “it” factor that has propelled you into your current position in your career. Do you think it’s an innate quality?

Zac Efron: It’s not tangible to me.  I don’t think it’s something I innately have – it’s gotta come from the work. I would hate to attribute all this to something I can’t control. Which is why I wanted to slow down with this and do a movie that was all about character.

Inception is exploding at the box office, and many critics have compared you to Leonardo DiCaprio…what’s that like?

Zac Efron: Leonardo DiCaprio. Leo’s a guy that’s been through all of this. I’m sure he knows how this felt at one point. And he just continued. Persevered. Stuck to his guns and went through the worst and best of times…the coolest movies, some that didn’t work so well. Regardless, he’s doing it. He’s survived. And now starting to make some of the best movies of his career.

Have you seen the final cut of your film? What are your thoughts?

Zac Efron: My head is HUGE! No. It’s fun, you know? Enrique was a fascinating DP – he’s very good at making everything look beautiful. I still haven’t seen the final draft of the film – but that’s what I noticed first, the way the ocean looked. As far as looking at myself on screen, I pick out every single flaw or thing I could have or should have done better. I’m a cringer at first. Years down the road, I can look back and appreciate it. Sometimes.

The film has a high dose of super-natural flare. Have you ever experienced anything along similar lines?

Zac Efron: When I was growing up there was this house I had to drive by on the way to school. It was this big pink house. God, I can’t remember the name of the place. My friends from home are going to slap me. There was always this rumor about the top bedroom, this weird attic bedroom that they never rented out. It was closed off. There was just a bed in it, and I swear that place was haunted. Everyone who works there says they’ve seen the ghost.

You had excellent on-screen chemistry with your co-star, Amanda Crew..

Zac Efron: Amanda was really fun to work with, she was really easy going. For romantic scenes I’ve never really found them intensely or incredibly awkward. I was supposed to be during this, so I think we found common ground – we held each other’s hands through this whole experience. We got a long really well, there was nothing to be nervous about.

The film hits theaters nationwide July 30th, check back to ScreenCrave for the review!

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