Also Credited As:Zachary David Alexander Efron
|Actor, Producer, Music|
|Zachary David Alexander Efron on October 18, 1987 in San Luis Obispo, California, USA|
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Born Oct. 18, 1987 in San Luis Obispo, CA, Efron was raised by his father, David, an electrical engineer and his mother, Starla, a former secretary who once worked at her husband's power plant. At 11 years old, he was encouraged by his father to pursue acting, which led to performances in plays and musicals like "Peter Pan," "Little Shop of Horrors" and "The Music Man" while attending Arroyo Grande High School. In 2002, he made his television debut in an episode of Joss Whedon's "Firefly" (Fox, 2002), which he followed by playing one of two autistic twins in the made-for-TV movie "Miracle Run" (Lifetime, 2004). Efron next had a regular series role as the on-and-off again boyfriend of an exceptionally bright girl (Kay Panabaker) on the short-lived "Summerland" (The WB, 2004-05). Following episodes of "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009), "CSI: Miami" (CBS, 2002- ) and "NCIS" (CBS, 2003- ), Efron turned up as a featured player in teen pop singer Hope Partlow's video for "Sick Inside," before landing the lead role in a Disney Channel production that harkened back to such classic teen musicals as "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Grease."
That film, helmed and choreographed by Kenny Ortega of "Dirty Dancing" (1987) fame, turned out to be "High School Musical," which earned spectacular ratings for the Mickey Mouse network, while yielding a triple platinum-selling soundtrack album and a sales record-breaking DVD. The soundtrack also made Efron the first artist ever to debut on the Billboard Hot 100 charts with two singles in the same week. He would eventually have five singles from the soundtrack on the charts, though some of the glamour was blunted when it was revealed that his vocals had been "sweetened" by combining them with actor-singer Andrew Seeley's own voice. The minor controversy did little to dampen the groundswell of popularity building behind Efron, which spread like wildfire when his appearances on the popular Disney Channel series "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" (2005- ) aired while "HSM" was screening on the channel practically around the clock. A frantic April 2006 appearance with his "HSM" co-star Ashley Tisdale on MTV's "TRL" (1998- ) confirmed his runaway popularity with the tween and teen audiences. Since then, Efron's image was inescapable on and between the covers of magazines that cater to that demographic.
While riding the "HSM" wave, Efron attempted to parlay his popularity into the Fox series "If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home By Now" (2006), which was inspired by the Oakwood apartment complex in Los Angeles which served as a temporary home for countless aspiring teen actors. But the pilot failed to be picked up for the 2006-07 season. Fans, however, did not have to wait long for his next project. In 2006, it was announced that Efron had joined the cast of the highly anticipated film version of the popular Broadway musical "Hairspray" (2007). Much of the press was quick to point out that Efron, who was playing the show's heartthrob, Link Larkin, would be doing all of his own singing - a pre-emptive strike against any lingering doubts about his abilities. Interestingly enough, Efron seemingly balked on releasing a pop album, unlike his "HSM" co-stars Vanessa Hudgens - with whom he struck up an off-screen romance while shooting the original movie - Ashley Tisdale, and Corbin Bleu, all of whom inked contracts with major labels for their own CDs. This decision proved wise, as all those albums failed on the charts, while Efron leapt ahead of his peers to legitimately grab grown-up, mainstream stardom with his well-reviewed turn in the film.
Efron earned the lion's share of the raves for the popular "HSM" sequel (2007), and this time did his own singing, which impressed critics. The following year he reprised his starring role in the finale of the "HSM" trilogy (2008), which was released directly to theaters and proved a fitting end to the era-defining series, with Efron capturing a handful of awards, including an MTV Movie Award for Best Male Performance. Meanwhile, his romance with Hudgens became public, and the two became something of a power couple for the younger set - though they ran into some embarrassment after nude photos of Hudgens, which were shot on her camera phone for Efron's enjoyment, were leaked on the internet. The following year was among the professional best for Efron, who opened his own big-screen comedy "17 Again" (2009), where he played the younger version of Matthew Perry's character, who magically gets to relive his adolescence again to comic effect. The movie drew excellent reviews and surprisingly strong box office. He followed by hosting "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) and starring in the cred-boosting indie "Me and Orson Welles" (2009). Efron's rise seemed assured to continue, with his starring role in the big-screen fantasy-romance "Charlie St. Cloud" (2010), where he played a man determined to keep in touch with his recently deceased brother, costarring heavy-hitters Ray Liotta and Oscar-winner Kim Basinger. After a supporting role in Josh Radnor's indie comedy-drama "Liberal Arts" (2012), Efron returned to the mainstream with a starring role in the romantic drama "The Lucky One" (2012), based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks, which itself was followed by Lee Daniels' quirky thriller "The Paperboy" (2012), which received largely mixed reviews from critics. After appearing in the critically maligned romantic comedy "That Awkward Moment" (2014), Efron regained his box office mojo by starring opposite Seth Rogen as a cocky fraternity boy in the critically acclaimed hit comedy "Neighbors" (2014).