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26 September 2010 @ 07:27 am
Out of school, into the clouds  

Baby-faced heart-throb Zac Efron has shed his teen spirit for a far more mature, career-focused edge.

IT WAS the hardest phone call of his life. Buoyed by the global success of the Disney High School Musical phenomenon, Zac Efron was poised for an easy kill. All he had to do was say “yes” to the remake of Footloose. It would net him a lazy $10 million, be a sure-fire hit and establish him as a stand-alone marquee name. It was a no-brainer.

And everybody expected him to do it, especially his HSM director Kenny Ortega, who was set to helm the film. But Efron wanted to run his own race, be his own man. He’d already signalled as much with his self-spoofing appearances on Saturday Night Live, Robot Chicken and Entourage. So, mid-2009, he called Ortega and said what nobody wanted to hear.

“It was a very hard decision,” Efron recalls. “It was one of the first times I’ve ever, in my life, just . . .” He trails off, then pauses. Efron, 22, is here promoting his new film, the quality weepie Charlie St Cloud. But right now, lightly bearded and shifting uncomfortably in a Sydney hotel room chair, his head is inside the moment.

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