Zac Efron and Zendaya have more than just The Greatest Showman in common; they both got their big break on the Disney Channel, though around ten years apart, before moving towards Hollywood to make feature films.
Zendaya is just at the beginning of her movie career, having made her cinematic debut earlier this year in Spider-Man: Homecoming, while Zac has appeared in various genres of films over the last decade.
Some of his most recent films – Baywatch, Dirty Grandpa and Bad Neighbours 2 – fall into the bromantic comedy category and have failed to garner much critical acclaim compared to earlier performances in the likes of Me and Orson Welles and Hairspray.
When Yahoo Movies UK mentioned his last few films, Zac interjected. “Income,” the actor laughed. “Funny income…I’m still going to deal with that for the rest of my life.”
Matthew McConnaughey found himself in similar situation when he was constantly being offered romantic comedy roles, but after a break from acting came the McConaissance and he went on to win an Oscar for his role in Dallas Buyers Club and critical-acclaim for True Detective season one.
Yahoo Movies UK asked Zac if he was hoping to do something similar by taking on more challenging roles, like his playwright character Phillip Carlyle in The Greatest Showman and as Ted Bundy in the biopic Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
“I think that’s the endless search,” he responded. “I’ll always be on that search, for the next, to try something new and try something different but there is something really intriguing about the next part, as with this one, I was very excited to get back into musicals.
“I never dreamed there would be an original one with all brand new music, with a cast like this, and a director like Michael Gracey, to be a caveat to sing and dance again. It just was a dream come true.”
On playing Ted Bundy, the infamous American serial killer and rapist who assaulted and murdered numerous young women and girls during the 1970s, Efron said the film will take you where you least expect.
“Ted Bundy is going to be very interesting, I’m excited,” Zac said. “It’s not going to be quite what you expect. I’m not going to be hacking and slashing, I don’t think too much, this is going to be different.”
It certainly seems like the actor is trying to take a leaf out of his 20-year-old self’s book with these new roles, as he also said that when he was trying to break into Hollywood he said “no” to a lot of opportunities.
“If you really love what you do, you find the best work and find the people who eventually want to work with you, and, you meet a director who’s willing to take a risk on you,” the 30-year-old explained.
“Sometimes that is hard; to be sitting and waiting can be hard and a lot of people can’t take it.”
Some of those people were his own parents who he says weren’t that supportive about the decisions he was making about his career.
“I remember my parents being like ‘what are you doing? You’re not doing anything,’ and I’m like, ‘waiting for something cool so I can elevate to the next level and learn about this craft and what I want to do,’ and there was zero respect for that at all,” Zac recalled. “It was like ‘what income are you making? What are you doing, you got offered a record deal!’
“[You have to] follow your heart and you’ll know what you really want to do.”
The Greatest Showman is released in cinemas on Boxing Day