By Fred Topel | Image property of New Line Cinema.
Zac Efron became an instant star when High School Musical exploded beyond the Disney Channel. Playing cool dancer Link Larkin in the Hairspray musical movie, Efron is reaping the benefits of bringing musicals to a younger audience.
Efron Talks Hairspray
"It’s great to think so," Efron said of his contributions to the genre. "I would like to think so. From what I hear, kids are loving it. It’s the best compliment when a parent can come up to you and say, ‘My son saw High School Musical and he’s starring in his school play.’ That happens. That really does happen and it’s so heartwarming to hear. I’ve also been excited because we’re educating a young audience in how great musicals are. For a while I think the last of musicals was really based on kind of an ignorance. It’s so easy to blow something up and it looks great and it looks so cool, but singing and dancing takes a little bit of thinking to wrap your mind around."
Now well versed in '60s dance moves as well as more modern hip hop styles, Efron may incorporate everything into his own style. "I might bust my own moves. I’m always just picking up things here and there. It’s funny but you can actually do the Mashed Potato in a version that looks cool today. I do it all the time. Every dance is really a version of the Twist."
Going from modern kid to '60s kid was natural for Efron. "My mom was raised in the '60s and she was a teenager at exactly the time we’re portraying in the film. As I was raised and as I got closer to my teenage years, she would just teach me small things that she was raised doing, being very kind to girls. She would tell me small antics like whenever she got a ring from a guy it was always too big for her finger so she would wrap tape on the inside and wear it. That meant they were going steady. It was a big deal. It had a different value. It was very important back then. I love that about the '60s. That’s what we got to play with a little bit in the film is being a teenage couple in the '60s. So yeah, it was very fun to explore that."
In Hairspray Link chooses Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) over traditional beauty queen Amber von Tussle (Brittany Snow). "It’s a fun transition going from the coolest girl in school who’s perhaps shallow and transitioning to the interesting choice, as far as I’m concerned. You know, Link pairing up with Nikki at the end of the film and their big kiss is coming at a great time. I’m really excited for the message. It’s perfect. It’s funny but in my personal life I tend to shy away from the perfect blonde super-skinny girls. So yeah, I had some satisfaction in pulling away. Not that I don’t like blondes. It’s all about character. And of course Brittany has got that."