LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In a little more than a year, Michael Cera has built a movie career and loyal fan base playing geeky high school heroes -- zits and all -- who somehow get the girls. So it must feel good, being a sexy leading man in Hollywood -- especially when you're really kind of geeky.
"It feels like acting," deadpans Cera, and somehow his answer seems appropriate.
Cera, 20, stars in a major Hollywood release "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," a teen romance that landed in theaters across North America on Friday, and far more than in his "Superbad" and "Juno," Cera is expected to lure fans.
His rise has been rapid, and made all the more remarkable because Cera is not the archetype of a movie hero. There are no six-pack abs, no chiseled jaw or bold decision-making.
Simply put, he is no Brad Pitt; not even Tobey Maguire.
There is only his wire-thin body and slumping frame. His hair is tousled and he rarely seems to smile.
But Cera does like music and can play guitar, and one thing about girls -- no matter what decade they grow up in -- they love guys who play guitar.
Cera's character Nick, is not much different than Cera.
"He is kind of guileless. He doesn't seem like a jerk," Kat Dennings (Norah) told Reuters in a joint interview with Cera.
"He doesn't have lesions or active sores or something," Cera said.
"Not on his fingers," Dennings joked. "I don't know, girls can tell when someone's acting nice -- like, acting like a decent human being -- when they're are not. He's not acting like that. He's very nice. I think girls can identify with a real nice person."
Certainly, good and geeky guys have gotten the girls in the past. In fact, they are littered throughout Hollywood history. Ten years ago, it was Jason Biggs in "American Pie."
But Cera is the current standard-bearer of geekdom after his turn in hit comedy ($170 million global box office) "Superbad," portraying a gawky teenager who goes out on a party night with a friend to score booze and a babe.
In Oscar-nominated "Juno," Cera won fans as an awkward high-schooler who impregnates his friend -- named Juno (Ellen Page) -- then stands by as she makes quirky and often funny decisions dealing with her impending delivery.
This time around in "Nick and Norah," Cera is a guitarist in a gay rock band whose girlfriend dumps him. And after an odd set of circumstances, he ends up pulling an all-nighter with his girlfriend's rival (Norah) as they search for an underground band playing a secret gig somewhere in Manhattan.
Not too unlike "Juno," music provides an initial spark to light a fire between Nick and Norah. It gives them an escape from their parents' world and their daily routines.
"That's a great way to bond with someone, you know," said Cera. "Sometimes it's hard to find something to talk about and when you have similar musical taste, it's a good lead-in and a good way to get to know someone."
Cera said that his life has changed in this past year with his stardom on the rise. He gets noticed more in public cafes and restaurants but for now, he seems to shrug off the fruits of Hollywood fame with answers like "it's acting."
"It's very strange thing," he said of his celebrity, "But I kind of went through it with 'Superbad.' We went through it together -- me and Jonah (Hill) and Chris (Mintz-Plasse). It's nice to have those guys to talk to," he said.
Editing by Jill Serjeant