Zac Efron first made teens swoon as basketball star-turned-singing star Troy Bolton in Disney’s High School Musical film franchise. Now, he’s becoming a fiery hot dad in the latest Stephen King film adaptation and taking over comedic roles once held by Ted Danson, Tom Selleck, and Steve Guttenburg

But Before The Music…

Efron made his way around television shows in small roles in episodes of Firefly, ER, and CSI: Miami and earned a recurring role on the television series Summerland as Cameron Bale, sharing the screen with stars such as Lori Loughlin and fellow songbird actor Jesse McCartney. Efron made his film debut in 2005’s The Derby Stallion as a teenager who begins working towards becoming a horse jockey. 

“This Could Be The Start Of Something New.”

If you were around preteens and teens or if you were one back in the 2000s, you couldn’t escape the massive hit that was Disney’s High School Musical. The first High School Musical premiered on the Disney Channel on January 20, 2006 (with the sequels following in 2007 and 2008). The film’s stars Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, and Corbin Bleu were plastered on the covers of magazines, t-shirts, and other merchandise for the film. The film lit up like fireworks, earning two Emmys and three Teen Choice Awards, while the film’s soundtrack spent two weeks at #1 on the US Billboard 100 and became the highest selling album of the year with 3.7 million copies sold. The musical even made its way to some real life high school stages for spring musicals. 

In the middle of the High School Musical trilogy, Efron brought his looks and voice to another musical– the 2007 rendition of Hairspray. The star-studded cast featured John Travolta, Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brittany Snow, Amanda Bynes, Queen Latifah, James Marsden, and then-newcomer Nikki Blonsky. The film is based off of the 2002 Broadway version of Hairspray which is a remake of the 1988 John Waters movie, which had less songs but boasted the grittier, trashy John Waters-style. 

Breaks Away From the Song and Dance…Briefly

After it was announced that a remake of 1984 classic Footloose was on the way, Efron signed on and was setting up to play the lead role of Ren, the new, edgy kid in town that was portrayed by Kevin Bacon in the original. Kenny Ortega, who had directed the High School Musical trilogy, was attached to direct the remake but he left after debates over the production budget with Paramount Studios. After a year and a half of being attached to the project, Efron backed out in 2009 after being advised that he was already being typecast in the song and dance type of roles. The lead role of Ren would go to Kenny Wormald (You Got Served)

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And then Efron went back to the musicals with 2017’s The Greatest Showman alongside Hugh Jackman, Michelle Willams, Zendaya, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

Efron would again step behind a mic to lend his voice to the animated Facebook series Human Discoveries alongside Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect), Lisa Kudrow (Friends), and Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn-Nine Nine). Efron played the leader of the Scooby gang Fred Jones in the latest animated Scooby Doo movie, Scoob! A role that was originally voiced by Frank Welker in the 1969 Scooby Doo, Where Are You! and the live-action version was played by Freddie Prinze Jr. 

In late 2019, Efron packed his bags and set off to film his adventures in Killing Zac Efron, a reality show series for the streaming service Quibi. Efron was going off the grid and “deep into the jungles of a remote, dangerous island to carve his own name in expedition history.” However, now that the streaming service has shut down after only six months of being up, the show remains in limbo. 

Now He’s All Grown Up and Playing Dad 

Enter potentially Efron’s most controversial acting role- as suave serial killer Ted Bundy in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. Directed by Joe Berlinger, the stories are based on the memoir The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy written by Bundy’s former girlfriend, Elizabeth Kendall

Critics and victim advocates were quick to call out the movie as a “glorification” of the serial rapist and torturer, but Berlinger stated how the portrayal is ingrained with harsh truths, “Bundy was very well integrated into society…I think most people who were coming to that trial just couldn’t believe that he was capable of such terrible things because he was a white male in our white privileged society.” 

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When you give Efron bushier eyebrows and feather out his hair, his resemblance to Bundy is uncanny and, while reviews were mixed on the film, critics still praised Efron’s performance.  

In September 2020, it was announced that horror studio powerhouse Blumhouse was gearing up to release a remake of Firestarter. The 1984 adaptation of King’s novel starred David Keith as Andrew McGee and a young Drew Barrymore as his pyrokinetic daughter, Charlie. Her mom, Vicky, was played by Heather Locklear. So now we horror fans can wait and wonder who will be the next names to sign on. The newer King adaptations have all gotten some big names each their own, such as James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain (IT Chapter 2) and Ewan McGregor (Doctor Sleep). 

After Efron plays a dad in a horror movie, he’s lined up to play another dad (sort of) in the remake of Three Men and a Baby for Disney’s streaming service, Disney+. The 1987 version (a remake of a French comedy film) starred 80s hunks and funny guys Ted Danson, Tom Selleck, and Steve Guttenburg. Will Reichel is set to be writing the remake but, as of now, the search is still on for a director.