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Saturday 20 September 2014

Zac Efron: Girls, Viagra and an interesting year

Orlaith Farrell

Published 31/01/2014 | 16:30

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Zac Efron
Three amigos: Miles Teller, Zac Efron and Michael B Jordan

Planking a toilet bowl in the nip after taking too much Viagra on a night out is a quick way to shake off your Disney image, and exactly what Zac Efron has been up to lately. Don't worry, it's not a case of Britney circa 2007 but rather his on screen antics for new role as fun loving ladies man Jason in That Awkward Moment.

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Efron teams up with Michael B Jordan and Miles Teller for this steamy 'bromcom' about three guys in their late twenties, trying to figure out what love and life are all about.

Most of us get to keep those 'awkward moments' private but not Efron, who has found himself the source of tabloid gossip since his role in High School Musical in 2006. He fell last year at home and the story made headlines globally. "I slipped and hit my face on a fountain in my house. The cool part of that is there is a fountain in my house."

Day & Night is down with the 26-year-old in New York to hear how the former teen idol is finding his feet, on and off camera following a reported trip to rehab last year.

Efron says the film definitely reflects elements of his "personal journey" and he shares a lot of characteristics with lead man Jason. "At the core of it, he's a good person, getting through and finding love and that's really what I'm doing now in my life."

Tactfully answering questions about challenges he faced over the last twelve months, the star seems relaxed and looks buff and tanned in a t-shirt and jeans. "It was an interesting year," he admits but insists that "I learned so many things, so much but the best part of it was being able to reflect on this experience and realise how much I had learned about myself and the kind of man I want to be. I'm in a great place."

Jason is a successful book designer in his late twenties with buckets of the charm Efron has been blessed with in real life. He vows to stay a bachelor in support of friend Mikey (Jordan), as does promiscuous Daniel (Teller). The group find themselves out of their comfort zones as they each fall in love.

There's a fair share of dude jokes and high fiving along the way, but the path to true love never runs smooth as the group find themselves facing the challenges of life and dating in New York City.

Much to the delight of Efron's hard core fans (young and more mature!), Jason er, shows some skin, but the 26-year-old wasn't too fazed by having to bare his butt. "It was a room full of people, that was really awkward, with everyone just watching. It was a funny scene and I was going to say that I've been there (trying to find a way to urinate after taking Viagra) but I shouldn't say that."

Quips aside, Efron is softly spoken and polite in person and his intense eye contact is almost unnerving as he answers questions from his plush armchair at the Waldorf Astoria.

As Jordan and Teller joke about checking out potential love interests on Instagram, Efron remains quiet, gazing at the ground or rubbing his hands, lacking the giddiness of his co-stars.

Checking out Facebook profiles of potential and past love interests is a recurring occurrence in the film and although he may have almost seven and a half million followers on Twitter, social media isn't the way to Efron's heart. "I don't use it for any personal relationships. Pictures don't teach you anything about people. Nobody has ever liked me from a picture that they have seen of me."

The star admits he's still not fully comfortable with the medium but tries to use it to talk to fans and tap in to good causes. "Social media has grown as I am growing. For a while it was tough for me to merge the two. I looked at the actors that I looked up to and they didn't have such tools and they couldn't offer any advice. Something about it didn't feel genuine yet. I see a lot of synergy in the potential. I'm still trying to figure it out."

Filming on location in New York for just 25 days poses certain challenges not to mention leaving the production open to thousands of screaming Zac Efron fans and paparazzi. The 26-year-old insists it wasn't a distraction. "You got to do what you do and I just do my best."

The friendly dynamic between the trio has leaked from performances into real life and Jordan and Teller are on hand to jump in at the slightest sense that the leader of the group may not be totally comfortable with a question or direction.

"What I will say about Zac is that we filmed long days ... after a long day, he could have gone out the back door but he always went out and talked to his fans," Teller adds.

Michael B Jordan also made his breakthrough as a teenager, playing 16-year-old drug dealer Wallace in gritty HBO drama The Wire. Jordan is laid-back and sometimes overshadowed by Teller's volume and Efron's star power. He takes jibes for his sensitivity and thoughtful manner.

That Awkward Moment must have offered light relief for the 26-year-old after some of his recent heavier undertakings. Last year he played Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old shot dead by police in a train station in California, in the critically acclaimed Fruitvale Station.

Thankfully the atmosphere during this movie was relaxed, and Jordan says the chemistry between the boys on screen is real. "It came from us spending time together. We took a trip up to the Adirondack Mountains. We ate, had a good time, went on nature walks. We're good friends, we kick it, hang out, go to games, we play XBox; regular friendships. It's good."

Although his character is married, Michael is still looking for love. "We're all kind of figuring out who we are. I need someone that's grounded with a strong hold on reality. In the industry that we're in, we're constantly in facades, images and this and that, the magazines and the press. I need someone who doesn't care about that stuff. I find myself looking for a girl that can look at me."

Teller proudly tells Day & Night of his Galway roots and a planned trip with his parents to Ireland this summer to find out more about his grandfather. He's on hand with a wisecrack throughout our chat and makes light of having nude scenes alongside the very buff Efron. "I apologise for my nakedness. I just want to publicly say I'm sorry for you all." He's vowing to spend more time in the gym ahead of any future nudity. "I didn't know how naked I was going to be. I was on antibiotics, I felt pretty disgusting and bloated – fat."

Also single, maybe Miles could find that special someone in Galway this year, someone who won't get sucked in to the Hollywood bubble. "Family is very important. Especially out in LA people get lost in that identity and that world and they forget themselves."

Jason may enjoy the more quirky girl on screen, but does Zac have the same taste as his character? "I look for charisma, sense of humour, confidence."

  • That Awkward Moment is out now

Irish Independent

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