zac efron on porn in usa today

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Zac Efron is all grown up.

And he knows exactly how to prove it.

"Eventually I'll be getting to adult-adult (entertainment), for real. But baby steps," the actor deadpans.

Don't fret, Efronistas. He's only kidding. Efron, 22, still remains his wholesome, hunky self. But the actor with the gleaming blue eyes and immaculately spiked hair, who broke through as studly varsity basketball captain Troy Bolton in Disney's High School Musical trilogy, is gradually scoring more mature roles.

On Friday, he headlines the drama Charlie St. Cloud, a family flick starring Efron as a sailing prodigy with a scholarship to Stanford whose entire future collapses amid the accidental death of his beloved younger brother. And the film, which deals with debilitating isolation and loss, has nary a musical number, which is one of the many reasons the project resonated with Efron.

"It seemed like someone I could play. There were a lot of scripts I was getting with guys that were too cool, you know? Not only am I not that person, why would I pretend to be that person?" Efron says. "Charlie was a character I felt I could bring something to. Having a little brother, having goals and aspirations, loving sports, all that kind of stuff just made sense to me. For me, a huge part of my life is family, my mom and dad and brother. Charlie St. Cloud was a chance for me to dream and say, 'What if I didn't have that?' "

If that sounds thoughtful, it is. Efron is methodical about planning his on-screen evolution from teen heartthrob to serious actor, à la his acquaintance Leonardo DiCaprio. So far, he has not done anything too risqué, opting instead for gradual gravitas in his roles. "It's all about the progression," Efron says.

Efron has been meticulous about laying the foundation for his post-Disney choices, starring in a musical (2007's Hairspray), a little-seen but pedigreed drama (2008's Me and Orson Welles) and a rom-com romp (2009's 17 Again). Critics took note. Welles, according to Rolling Stone's Peter Travers, "proves Zac Efron can act," and The New Yorker's David Denby called him "surprisingly winning" in it.

To those who have worked with Efron, his talent is old news.

"I was so struck by his earnestness and willingness to grow. He's almost weirdly unassuming and grounded," says his Welles co-star Claire Danes. "I quickly realized how gifted he is. He's actually a really fine actor under all that amazing charisma and coordination and charm."

Efron is a blend of circumspection and boyishness. He carefully discusses film choices and weighs the appeal of certain characters over others. But he also loves video games and anything released by the house of Steve Jobs, admitting somewhat sheepishly that he spends most of his money on iPhones to replace ones he breaks.

Professionally, Efron is making strides toward distancing himself from his supersized Disney persona and pursuing the kinds of roles that will, he hopes, ensure career longevity.

"Everybody is taking him seriously. He's the real deal. No matter how much of a hater you are, he's there. There's no argument," says Burr Steers, who directed Efron in 17 Again and Charlie St. Cloud. "The thing for him is to keep on challenging himself. People will be advising him to play it safe. He's scratched the surface of his talent. It's about working with really good people and taking chances and getting better."

Hollywood Reporter film columnist Martin Grove agrees that Efron seems to be making ever-more interesting choices.

"His inclinations are good. He seems to have stayed away from the bad stuff, and that's a very important part of career management. He hasn't gone looking for the paycheck or to duplicate something like High School Musical. That speaks well for him," Grove says. "I would tell him to continue to work with filmmakers and look for projects that stretch him as an actor and take him out of the world of obvious teen stars and put him more into roles that are at least somewhat more in depth."

To that end, Efron just formed a production company called Ninjas Runnin' Wild. "We're looking for stuff that is original, that doesn't necessarily have a brand associated with it. You can make something truly brilliant now and it doesn't have to be a remake," he says.

Is that why last year, he dropped out of Footloose, being directed by HSM's Kenny Ortega?

"There were so many factors to that decision. It wasn't to do something like Charlie St. Cloud. It was sort of a feeling of where I was at the time. I was yearning to try something new. Anything I say is ... " he trails off. "Calling Kenny was one of the hardest things I had to do."

Efron views DiCaprio, who left the estrogen-fueled frenzy of Titanicbehind to forge a lauded body of work, as a role model of sorts. Ask Efron what the key to having a DiCaprio-esque career is, and he leans back, pausing and thinking for a good 20 seconds.

"A lot of different things go into it. Every time I watch a movie Leo has done, he seems like a completely different person. You can't ever be caught resting on your laurels. You can't be caught being lazy," he says. "You have to search for innovation in everything you do and hold out to work with those good people that know how to really make movies. That's what Leo's done. He's a walking example of what to do."

The only time Efron gets somewhat defensive is when he's asked if he feels a need to prove himself as a serious actor, since so many people associate him with Troy Bolton.

"Taken seriously is pretty vague. Everyone has to (prove themselves). I did when I was on stage at 15. I always have. That's who we are. It's ingrained in my psyche," he says.

Like DiCaprio, Efron is mindful of what he says in interviews and thinks before he speaks. It's why he's so reluctant to discuss the annoyance of having the paparazzi camped outside his house 24/7 or the attention he gets when fans spot him at a Lakers game or out at dinner.

"That's what I hate reading as well. I hate people (complaining) about it. I would hate to come across as (complaining) about it," he says. "We've been on that for a while for now, so I'd like to talk about something else."

That "something else" doesn't include his longtime girlfriend and former HSM co-star Vanessa Hudgens, 21. Efron says he refrained from gushing about her in the press "from the very start. We still never talk about it or celebrate it. It's personal. It works for us."

Privacy is paramount to him. Efron is approachable one-on-one, but the security around him is nearly impenetrable in public situations. For this chat, he's kept in a closed-off private room, adjacent to the public restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, away from prying eyes. A personal publicist stands guard. And when he's led out of his quarters, he's surrounded by handlers and security, to avert any prying eyes as he glides through the hotel — but not before stopping to thank staffers for their hospitality.

The reason for all those precautions is simple.

"The craziness around him was a bit amazing," Danes says of the Welles shoot. "It was reminiscent of what I saw happen to Leo after Romeo + Juliet came out and certainly when Titanic came out. There were girls permanently camped out outside the hotel for the duration of the shoot chanting his name. It was wild.

"He definitely struggles to remain balanced and focused and try to ignore the parts of it that could potentially be a little maddening. It was really extreme and he handled it so gracefully."

Efron has found "a million" ways to evade the paparazzi, none of which he's willing to share. Being such a star at such a young age, he says, "didn't leave me with any appetite for success or fame. I figured out what was going on very quickly, and I knew that was not why I wanted to do this. So why did I? Why am I doing this? Why am I here? I realized it was for the work."

And to keep on working, he had to jump off the lucrative and easy teen movie circuit.

"I couldn't keep on that train. That's what I focused on almost immediately. I can live within my means. I'm not excessive. I'm not an extravagant guy. I never have been," he says. "Sometimes the money is that appealing. The notoriety does feel good. At certain times, I'm not going to say I haven't fallen victim to both of those feelings.

"But right here in my stomach, I am always guided right back to what am I doing to change, improve, innovate, be relevant."

Where, exactly, does that levelheadedness come from?

"He's always been incredibly together," says Charlie St. Cloud director Steers. "I was so impressed the first time I met him. He was so young but had such a clear vision of the kind of career he wanted to have. His parents are incredibly substantial in terms of what is important.

"When he was pursuing acting, his parents were clear that if he wanted to do it, he had to drive himself to L.A. and sleep on his friends' couches. He had some hard knocks and had to hustle. When High School Musical broke so huge, he appreciated the break and was making sure to take advantage of the opportunity."

Efron lights up when asked about people he'd like to work with, such as Watchmen director Zack Snyder.

"I have to mention him because I just saw Vanesssa shooting Sucker Punch. She was in Vancouver, beating the hell out of people and stunt guys. Watching your girlfriend do it, it's incredibly hot, but at the same time, jealousy was just oozing out of every pore. She can do all the stuff you dream of when I was a kid. I was watching that. So cool. I was happy just to be on set."

Next up for Efron: time out.

"I'm searching and waiting. The opportunities will come," he says. "I'm not in any rush."

and zac on regis and kelly this morning.

talks about corbin bleu in "in the heights" and gets his abs awkwardly felt up by regis. all while girls scream constantly.

lol his face @ this girl.

zac's costar amanda crew on kimmel last night.

they talk about being canadian, the one mean zac fan she met, and zac's kissing techniques (jimmy is especially interested in this).

sources: 1, 2, 3