EXCLUSIVE: Why Zac Efron Doesn't Want to Play a Superhero: 'You Have to Earn the Right to Shoot Web'
Zac Efron is a huge comic book geek, but he knows that other comic book geeks won't believe that. As he told Movieline this weekend, that's exactly why he hasn't accepted any of the superhero roles he's had first pick of.
I spoke with the 22-year-old actor in anticipation of his upcoming romantic drama Charlie St Cloud (look for the full interview soon), and though the film is targeted at women, I was struck by how savvy Efron was about comic-book tentpoles -- and how self-deprecating he was about what fanboys must think of him.
Ironically, his girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens may corner the geek market before Efron gets a chance to, as she'll be starring in Sucker Punch, the next film from Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300). As Efron acted out a bloody, off-the-record Sucker Punch scene for me, he showed off the enthusiasm and athleticism you'd expect from a comic-book hero, but he was candid about the hesitations that have kept him from donning a mask.
You're at the age when actors get offered superheroes and tentpole films. Has that been happening to you? Do they come to you with, say, the new Spider-Man?
You know, they do here and there. When a superhero movie is about to get made, we're at different levels of conversation about it. I find that it's hard to commit to an action movie for the sake of doing action. I love action as much as the next guy, but I wouldn't say it's my favorite genre or one that I look for an amazing performance in. I'd say that it's what's underneath the action or what's driving it that's really important, and is that necessarily in a superhero movie? I don't know, maybe. It'd be fun to try. Every superhero origin story is pretty powerful, and there's usually something to tell there; it's not just about someone gaining powers, there's a lot more to it. There's life lessons in comic books, and I know, because I read them. I learned a s**tload from comics, you know? I think it would be about finding the right one.
But they've come to you before, and it hasn't been the right one or the right time?
It hasn't been the right time necessarily, or it's too early. I don't feel that I've earned it quite yet, to be honest. The people that you see them find for superheroes, you go, "Oh yeah, that's great. That guy is perfect, what a great idea." Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern? You go, "Finally, he's going to do something great! We've been waiting for it, he's done all these other things and now I want to see him as that character."
Or they go and cast someone like Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, who isn't generally known to a wide audience.
But that's a whole different thing, you know? He's coming in as an unknown. Once you sort of establish yourself...I'm in-between, you know what I mean? Andrew Garfield is going to be amazing in that movie because he's got a brand-new, fresh perspective, and to be thrown into that character so quickly, he's going to be able to redefine that brand in a way that we've never seen before. It'll be amazing. You've sort of seen me before. [Laughs] I don't know. I think you really have to pay your dues once you've been established.
When you say you have to earn it, who do you have to earn it with: the audience, or yourself?
I think for me. I need to have the belief in myself to be able to go and do that. Also, I have a self-awareness of what is out there: Right now, if I was looking at me from someone else's eyes -- like the eyes of the guys who are going to go watch a superhero movie -- I can't say that I'd be "two thumbs up" for me to star in an action movie right now.
Why would I be? I haven't done anything to pay those dues yet, I haven't made any movies for those fans yet. I think you have to earn the right to hold a gun. You have to earn the right to shoot web.
[Photo Credit: Randall Michelson/Wire Image]