BEVERLY HILLS, California — Until now, it's simply been known as "The Untitled Zac Efron Project," a mysterious movie that is to serve as the "High School Musical" star's first solo vehicle. But now, with Efron's "Hairspray" just a few weeks away, the fast-rising actor gave us the scoop on the top-secret project — along with his thoughts on going back to "High School" for a third time.
" 'Seventeen' is a cool project that I am looking at right now," Efron said of the formerly untitled flick, revealing the title as well as the fact that it's currently in the final stages of pre-production. "It's kind of like a reverse 'Big,' about a guy who is older and his life never came out how he planned."
Invoking comparisons to the 1988 comedy classic that not only made Tom Hanks a superstar but also earned him an Oscar nomination, Efron said the concept of "Seventeen" is to change up the formula.
"[The character] wishes he could go back to high school, and sure enough, he wakes up and he is young again, he is 17 again," the actor/singer said.
"New Line really wants to make this thing," echoed "Hairspray" director Adam Shankman, who is poised to reunite with his leading man by serving as a producer on "Seventeen." "Hopefully, this will be Zac's next project, and hopefully it will be going in the fall."
In "Hairspray," Efron takes his musical-leading-man act to the next level, playing Elvis-like teen heartthrob Link Larkin (see [article id="1539404"]" 'High School Musical' Stars Have Sequel, Solo Projects In The Works"[/article]). According to Shankman, "Seventeen" will continue to evolve Efron's career by mixing in drama much like "Big" before it. "It is a comedy, a teen comedy, with a little more teeth than he has been seen doing before in the past," he said. "We want to show [Efron] in a more aggressive, but funny, light."
"It's just about 'What if you went back to high school, and you knew what you did now?' " the 19-year-old said of the script, written by "Bringing Down the House" scribe Jason Filardi. "It's cool."
With a grin, Efron said that there will be an older actor playing the grownup version of his character, and that he'll be playing the post-transformation teen. "I hope I don't play the old guy," he laughed.
Finally, Efron briefly addressed rumors that he and several of his fast-rising co-stars might not return for "Haunted High School Musical," the third film in the super-successful series. "At this point, it is not in my hands," he said of the behind-the-scenes negotiations. "I mean, I would love to do a third 'High School Musical'; it would be a great way to finish off the series.
"To start with a TV movie and finish off on the silver screen would be a great legacy for the 'High School Musical' series to leave," he said of the flick, which will be released in theaters (see [article id="1561761"]" 'High School Musical' Stars Dish On Sequel's Showstoppers, Love Triangles"[/article]).
Efron joked, however, that he might be too chicken to take on the "Ghostbusters"-esque proposed premise. "You know, if [East High] is haunted, I might have to reconsider," he grinned. "Because I don't like ghosts."
Check out everything we've got on Zac Efron.
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