Cougars of the world watch out, Zac Efron is coming for you.
“Kissing older ladies. It has become my thing now,” reveals Zac, who has dropped by to talk about his latest film. New Year’s Eve.
As the High School Musical graduate is only 24 years old, and currently single, that gives hope to an awful lot of women out there.
He is, as far as we know, speaking strictly professionally. In 17 Again he played a magically de-aged version of a 37-year-old guy who finds himself falling for his still 37-year-old wife.
In New Year’s Eve he is a cycle courier hired by Michelle Pfeiffer to help her make a day full of wishes come true.
This is not the first time Zac and Michelle had worked together, as they both starred in Hairspray, with Zac cast as the heroine’s love interest and Michelle the mother of her nemesis.
“I was a lot younger then,” he recalls. “I think I was 18 at the time and really nervous. I just always put my foot in my mouth whenever I was trying to talk to her.
“This go round it was my chance to get to know her and have a better relationship on screen and off screen. Hang out a lot more.
“I am a little more sure of myself now. We had a great time getting to know each other.”
In New Year’s Eve his looks are a little rougher. His hair is worn in an elevated buzz cut and he sports a five o’clock shadow, perhaps to show that Disney’s blue-eyed (literally) boy is all grown up.
He hasn’t left his song and dance days entirely behind though as his character, Paul, gets to throw a few shapes at a NYE party.
“I do identify with Paul in being the life and soul of the party. If there is a dance floor I tend to jump on it...too early.”
His own New Year plans are still very much up in the air, as is who he will be kissing at midnight.
“I am narrowing it down. I could be in a few different places. I have done them with my family, with different groups of friends. I don’t know (who I will be kissing) yet, she is out there somewhere.”
For him, he says, New Year’s is a time for reflection – and apparently to be grateful for everything he might not have crossed off his list at Thanksgiving.
“I try and take that moment when the fireworks are going off to say ‘there is nowhere else I would rather be, I am thankful to be right here at this moment’ and to take every opportunity I have been given and make the best of it, forget about the past, stop dwelling on the negatives and focus on the future.”
It seems he’s unlikely to be caught blind drunk and clinging onto a friend/lamppost/gutter for support – like your typical 20 something – and is momentarily flustered by the suggestion he might.
“What was your question ‘do I get off my face?’
“Yeah, sometimes,” he says, cautiously. “It is always good to do that once in a while, You’ve just got to be careful where you are if you want to do that.”
His favourite holiday remains Christmas, which is sacrosanct in the Efron household.
“I am always with my family. We have the Christmas tree in the same place every year and it’s the same four people, me, my little brother and my mum and dad. We have had the same ritual for years and I hope it never changes. Then afterwards we do a big Christmas dinner with friends and family I grew up with, before any of this (fame) ever happened.”
He has – so far – managed to avoid the usual pitfalls encountered by child stars as they try to make the transition to credible adult actor, dodging DUI’s, stints in rehab or questionable tattoos.
He credits his close relationship with his family on keeping him career-focused
“I have always felt my parents are two of the smartest individuals I know. Especially my dad. He is able to look at things in a really unique way. His is just an outside perspective that I trust and I will always look to him for a lot of advice. It helps they are outside the business, and they pride themselves on it. They are not producing my movies. They stay at home and watch and give me the perspective that I need.”
Oddly it was his dad who gave him the push he needed to take the next step on from being a Disney protégé.
“I’d hit that fork in the road where I had to pick going to college or doing Hairspray.
“I think it was that moment when my dad, who’d been all ‘You’re going to college or you are no longer my son’, that guy, was like ‘You should do Hairspray’. He helped me decide. You have got to follow your heart
“I was going to study film at USC (University of Southern California) or I was going to study theatre at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles).
“As was going to study film I thought ‘Man, I should go be in one’. I think I learned a lot more, because I’ve talked to people who have graduated that programme and they are still asking to come to set with me.”
New Year’s Eve opens today (Dec 8)