Now Sober, Zac Efron Wows In “The Greatest Showman”


By Staff Writer

Original Source:

For years, Zac Efron wouldn’t sing or dance on screen. After his role in the High School Musical franchise made him a household name, Efron — who had aspirations of becoming a serious actor — appeared in Hairspray, then dropped out of a Footloose reboot due to his concerns that another musical role would typecast him.

A string of successes in major films followed, and Efron now seems to be over that fear; he closed out 2017 starring in Hugh Jackman’s biopic The Greatest Showman, which tells the story of circus-master PT Barnum. The role required Efron to sing and dance — sometimes on a trapeze — as Philip Carylye, Barnum’s right-hand man (and Zendaya’s love interest).

Getting to this moment in his career required Efron to get over his fears — and his addictions. Like many young stars, Efron battled the temptations of fame in his early 20s, as he struggled to adjust to a life where literally nothing was denied him — except the chance to lead a normal life. Efron has been open about his story: he entered rehab twice at 25 as his drinking began to spiral out of control, and remains a member of Alcoholics Anonymous to this day.

Telling his story later to The Hollywood Reporter, Efron sounded like a man who had come to grips with the challenges of his youth: “It’s impossible to lead an honest and fulfilling life as a man and not make mistakes and ‘fess up to them when you need to. But it’s especially humiliating when they happen to be so public and so scrutinized.”

Sobriety has been fantastic for Efron’s career; while many former child stars struggle to find credibility as actors, Efron has worked on box office hits with some of the industry’s biggest names. Up next, he’ll attempt to enter another level altogether, playing convicted serial killer Ted Bundy in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. The darkness and complexity of the role — and the fact that the film is directed by Oscar-nominated Joe Berlinger — is a solid indication that, at long last, Zac Efron has shaken off the “child star” template.