Once goofy Zac Efron gets serious about movies

Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:02am EDT
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Out with the singing, dancing, goofy Zac Efron of old.

At 22, the tween heart-throb of Disney's bubbly "High School Musical" franchise says he wants to get serious, slow down and find out just what he's made of.

Efron takes on his most dramatic role to date by playing a young man tortured by his kid brother's death in "Charlie St. Cloud," which opens in U.S. movie theaters on Friday.

Based on Ben Sherwood's novel "The Death of Charlie St. Cloud", the movie sees Efron become a caretaker at a cemetery who plays catch every night with his brother's spirit -- who only he can see.

Five years later when a girl comes into his life, Charlie must choose between staying loyal to his dead brother, or moving on with his life and pursuing the girl he loves.

For Efron -- who found fame as the floppy-haired star of the "High School Musical" trilogy and went on to appear in the comedies "Hairspray" and "17 Again" -- working on "Charlie" was a chance to challenge his young fans to see him in a new light and attract new viewers "who weren't necessarily my fan base," Efron told Reuters.

But most of all, it was an opportunity for the actor to challenge himself.

"On 'Charlie St. Cloud,' I couldn't rely on things I did before," Efron said. "Because usually in between takes, I'm goofing off. I'm the guy who's looking forward to the ping pong game while the crew is setting up the lights. I had to leave all that behind and focus."   Continued...

<p>U.S. actor Zac Efron, who stars in the movie "Charlie St. Cloud", poses for a photo in Marina del Rey, California, July 16, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>