Zac Efron Had a Tween Crush on his Babysitter!
Zac Efron talks young love and his lead character in “The Lorax”!
Every magazine and blog you read talks about how “grown up” Zac Efron is now. Sure he looks hunky-manly and has moved on from his High School Musical days branching out and tackling varied roles in film. His latest effort finds the hot young actor voicing an animated character in the new 3-D film The Lorax which opens in March.
We are on the Universal Studios lot to chat again with friendly Zac and are learning that he has more in common with his young character in the film than we thought.
Kidzworld: When you were a tween about the age of your character Ted, was there a cute neighbor girl you would do anything to be around? [Note: Ted is crushin’ on his neighbor Audrey, voiced by Taylor Swift].
- Zac: I had a babysitter named Brook. I guess she was in high school. So, what was I? 12 or younger? Whatever, I had a really big crush on her. She was really spontaneous and fun and loved to make us sing and dance and paint. It was like, 'Gosh. You're the coolest person in the world.' I guess I did have my young love.
Kidzworld: Did you do silly things to impress her?
- Zac: I think we [he and his brothers] did everything to impress her, everything possible, which was ridiculous, yeah.
Kidzworld: Ted risks a lot to get Audrey a tree. Have you done some bizarre thing to get a girl’s love?
- Zac: Yeah, sure. I like humor and spontaneity and something that you'd not expect. So, I think catching someone off guard is always really fun. I'm a big practical joker and you can make those [jokes] romantic. Just give them something funny or fun or heartfelt.
Kidzworld: The theme of “The Lorax” is saving trees and our environment. Are you “green” at home?
- Zac: I try to be green, as much as I can. It's hard. I feel like I'm never doing enough. Here I am sitting and drinking out of a plastic bottle. That's just what you get handed. I've always been searching for a way to get more involved and to help, and I felt like this movie, with the message that it has, was a really organic way to be able to help and get involved for me as an actor because there are only so many things you can do. This is a way, through a film, to teach and hopefully get the message out to young kids, and as they say in the movie it only takes one seed. So, I think we're planting those seeds.
Kidzworld: What did you think of Ted when you first saw him and was it just a drawing then?
- Zac: Early on I saw just a rough picture. It wasn't even computer animated yet. I had just seen a hand drawn version and I really liked him. He looked cool. He seemed like your regular, spontaneous [and] too smart for his own good young guy, which was good.
Kidzworld: There are a lot of songs in the movie and you have a lot of experience with movie musicals. How did you feel about being a part of that?
- Zac: I wasn't involved in the songs that much. My character didn't really sing that much, but I thought that they brought a lot of charm to the movie, a lot of fun. I love musical numbers everywhere.
In the last musical number my favorite shot is when they pan back and it's just on that little girl swishing her hips back and forth. Did anyone else notice that? I thought that was so clever. I don't know who comes up with these things over there, but those guys are so funny and clever. It was really fun. I had a great time.
Kidzworld: This is your first voice over role for an animated film. A lot of actors say it provides more freedom and others are more intimidated. How did you like the experience?
- Zac: I was nervous the first time. I was a bit self-conscious because there's a camera on you and the microphone is so close. As with anything you just have to let go, let go and don't be afraid to be crazy. Danny [DeVito helped]. I actually looked up a clip of Danny working on a previous project and saw how he was doing it, and he's a wild man in there [the recording booth]. So, the next time that I went in I just said, 'Sc**w it.' I went as crazy as possible and took it to the next level. It was fun.
Kidzworld: Was doing a voice for an animated film always a goal for you as an actor?
- Zac: I always wondered if the opportunity would arise. I always hoped it would. I dreamed it would. I wanted to try it. Everyone's voice is different. A lot of my friends do only voice-over work. It's crazy. I don't know if I have a voice for voice-over. I don't really have that many great alter voices that some people do have. I just tried to be enthusiastic.
Kidzworld: What was your reaction the first time you saw the movie?
- Zac: The first time that Ted’s trying to leave the town via that air duct or whatever it is it was like taking me to a whole other world. It looked incredible in the 3D. I thought, 'This should totally be a ride at Disneyland,' or something because it was so neat, so fun. The only bad part about doing that was I think there were entire [recording] sessions where I'd just go, 'Ah, ahhh, whoa, hey, look out!' for hours. They would just leave it on recording and I would just do every single, like, guttural sound imaginable. It looked really, really cool. It was really exciting. It all fit together so well.
Kidzworld: Did you notice your own gestures in the animated character?
- Zac: I don't know. When you're [watching] it you're kind of in it. I know there were a couple of moments that I remembered it was me, and I could see it. The people I watched it with, my friends and family, said, 'Oh, my God, he was you.' So, I guess, yeah, they noticed it.
Kidzworld: What was your background with Dr. Seuss books?
Zac: I have a lot of vivid memories of me and my parents reading these books. They would read them to me. It's frozen in my mind. I can see them all. I still have them in what used to be my room, which has been turned in to the spare room at my house. I got kicked out. My little brother took over my room. Anyways… [he laughs].
Kidzworld: What do you have in common with Ted other than a crush on a local girl?
- Zac: He's sort of a hopeless romantic. He's adventurous. He's persistent. He's stubborn, kind of annoying, pretty funny. He's got a big imagination. I'd like to think that I'm all those things. He learned that all from me. I taught him everything he knows.
Kidzworld: Danny did his role of The Lorax in like 4 or 5 different languages. Have you ever seen yourself on screen talking in a different language?
- Zac: Yeah. Actually, when we were doing High School Musical, we did a big international press tour. I'll never forget Italy and Spain. I think that Corbin [Bleu] had the first voice and he had a beautiful, like, [deep sounding] 'Hola, como esta?' A beautiful voice. Vanessa [Hudgens] had a voice that sounded just like hers. Ashley [Tisdale] had a very suave, cool voice, and then I got introduced and it was, like [very high pitched] 'Aye, dios mio,' [we laugh] and I looked down the line and I went, 'Are you kidding me?'
I thought that I was being Punk'd somehow. I actually looked down the line and found out that he was my voice. So, my voice is now a very, very high voice in Spain and Italy. I have to get on that.
Kidzworld: How often do you see some of the High School Musical gang?
- Zac: Less. Unfortunately we do work a lot and we're super busy, but when we're in town we always see each other. I see Corbin a lot and then Ashley. I see Ashley all the time. We're practically neighbors. Then the rest of crew, we try and get together as much as we can.
Kidzworld: Do you think young fans today can better appreciate a musical film like “The Lorax” because they grew up on High School Musical?
- Zac: Gosh, that's a great way to think of it. You said it. That's cool. I hope so. High School Musical introduced the musical genre to a lot of people and if it instilled that appreciation in them then that's the best thing in the world. That's what got me started. That's what got me here.
Kidzworld: You’ve got another film coming out in April, The Paperboy. You are an amateur journalist in that film. Is it a thriller or what?
- Zac: I don’t even know how to explain it. I have to be honest. I have not seen the movie yet. It's going to be wild. There are some performances in there by Matthew McConaughey and Nicole Kidman and John Cusack that I think are going to be outstanding, but it's too weird to even try and explain right now. I'm excited for you to see it.
By: Lynn Barker