Efron is footloose but song-free in "17 Again"

Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:08pm EDT
 
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In a recent "Saturday Night Live" comedy sketch, Zac Efron despaired that life was aimless beyond his "High School Musical" movies, but in real life the heartthrob is on a mission to transform his image.

In his new film "17 Again," which opens on Friday, the actor abandons the singing and dancing that won the hearts of teenage girls in the "High School" franchise, and turns to straightforward acting as a 37-year-old failure at life who is magically transformed back to his winning ways at age 17.

The role calls for a brief dance routine but no singing, and it comes as Efron looks to broaden his range beyond just the singing and dancing that made his "High School" character Troy Bolton a huge obsession for girls around the world.

The first two made-for-TV movies were big hits for Disney, which released the third film in theaters in 2008 and made more than $251 million at global box offices.

"Before 'High School Musical,' I wasn't a singer or dancer, or a basketball player even," Efron, 21, told reporters recently in Los Angeles.

"It was fun to learn those skills and to do that. Now, it feels like it's time, I'm ready to try something else," he said. "To be stagnant right now is not in my heart."

Efron recently walked away from starring in a remake of the 1984 musical movie "Footloose," in part because it would have resembled his role in the "High School" films.

This is a heady time for the California-born Efron. Beyond his starring role in "17 Again," Efron appears on the cover of GQ's May issue. "The 'it' factor in him is so high wattage," said "17 Again" producer Adam Shankman.   Continued...

 
<p>Zac Efron attends the movie premiere of the film "17 Again" in Los Angeles April 14, 2009. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>