Zac Efron. More than just your average teen heartthrob.

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Jaw crafted by a Greek god, laugh of an angel, smile so great it should be featured on a dental ad, abs of steel, style so cool, so hot, any girl would melt. All contributing qualities of why Zac Efron is practically every girl’s man crush not just on Mondays but every day. But there is much more to Zac than what meets the eye.

Zachary David Alexander Efron was born in San Luis Obispo, California on October 18, 1987. It was actually Efron’s father who encouraged his son to perform when he overheard him singing and realized he had memorized every word of Michael Jackson’s songs. Zac recently said in his interview with The Hollywood Reporter that ”We had the Greatest Hits album playing in my mom’s car constantly,” says Efron. “One day, I started singing all the songs consecutively, word for word. My dad was like, ‘How do you know all the words?’ He said, ‘If you’re not going to play sports, you have to do something.” At the mere age of 11, he began taking singing lessons at the Allan Hancock College, home of the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, where he also took small roles in stage productions of Gypsy and Peter Pan.

Thus began his acting career. He continued on with local performances which earned him a contract with a talent agent. Soon, Efron was going to Los Angeles for auditions regularly while also attending Arroyo Grande High School. In 2002, he made his first television appearance on the short-lived series Firefly. In 2003, Efron landed guest roles on ER and the pilot for The Big Wide World of Carl Laemke. The following year, he could be seen in the film The Guardian, as well as the pilot for Triple Play and the made-for-television movie Miracle Run. Efron also starred as Cameron Bale, a series regular, on The WB’s Summerland (2004-05). Although the series was cancelled in July 2005, Efron was still a regular media presence, with guest roles on NCIS, Disney’s The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and CSI: Miami. He also landed a leading role in his first feature film, The Derby Stallion (2005).

Zac got his big break when he was cast for the role of Troy Bolton in 2005 for the Disney Channel film High School Musical. A role he played so well that he is still trying to shake that image today. HSM is recognized as one of the most successful made-for-television movies ever and the most successful Disney Channel Original Movie ever produced. The sequel came out in 2007 and was the most-watched event in cable television history. He also was cast as golden boy Link Larken in John Water’s Hairspray in 2007. Finally in 2008, the High School Musical trilogy came to an end on the big screen.

Zac is always two steps ahead. Back in 2006 after the wild success of High School Musical 1, he turned down offers for acting roles and record deals. He chose instead to take time off to focus and graduate from high school. Once the HSM trilogy ended, in an effort to avoid typecasting, Efron decided to make a departure from musicals. He held leading roles in Me and Orsen Welles (2008), 17 Again (2009), Charlie St. Cloud (2010), The Lorax (2012) and New Year’s Eve (2012). Also in 2012, he took on his first, in my opinion, more mature role in Nicholas Sparks’ movie adaptation of The Lucky One. He went on to star in Indie films and film festival flicks titled The Paperboy, At Any Price, (both in 2012) and  the under publicized American history thriller Parkland (2013).

All those years of back to back roles could take its toll on anyone. Not to mention the added pressure of never screwing up because he still held his loyal adolescent fan base from HSM. He stated in The Hollywood Reporterhe is “grateful for every bit of that early success,” […] ‘It was hands down the most honest, carefree, passionate experience of my life. There were no expectations. [But later] I definitely felt that pressure.’” When news surfaced in September 2013 about his time spent in rehab that past spring for cocaine and alcohol addiction, fans were shocked. The pressure is no justification for addiction but is definitely an understandable contributing factor to hisaddiction. He told THR that “it was this workload, rather than any individual precipitating event, that pushed him over the edge […] though he grants there were deeper causes, too. ‘There was something lacking, some sort of hole that I couldn’t really fill up.’”

On May 5th, 2014 Zac shared with The Today Show’s Matt Lauer that by opening up about his addiction it was “Actually […] a weight off [his] chest. It was great. It was a fantastic time. It was a rough year.” Zac is definitely the type of man to own up to his mistakes and move on. He overcame his addiction and is now redefining his image in the best way possible. As he moves deeper into his 20s, his goals are becoming more defined. THR said “He is keen to take charge of his career and has started producing through his Ninjas Runnin’ Wild Productions, where he is partnered with Michael Simkin.” He starred in and produced That Awkward Moment and played the lovable bro fraternity president in Neighbors. Zac is sober, happy, talented, and driven. He is a force to be reckoned with and I’ll say it: the next Matthew McConaughey. I would not be surprised if in a few years time he has shaken the teeny bopper heartthrob image, has diverged from the rom-com genre, and is standing at The Academy Awards accepting his Oscar rather than announcing its categories.

*originally published on May 13, 2013*

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