School’s out for suddenly serious Zac Efron

This could be upsetting news for some of his most avid fans, but Zac Efron may be growing too old for his High School Musical ways.

“I love the audience that I’ve had thus far,” admitted Efron, who was in Los Angeles to promote his new fantasy drama, Charlie St. Cloud.

“I feel like I can really talk with this generation and understand them and I want to make movies for them. But I think the best way to do that is not to do the same thing over and over again, but to evolve with the audience.”

For the young actor, that meant taking on the title role of Charlie — a young sailing prodigy who struggles to get past the accidental death of his younger brother. Based on a popular novel, the 22-year-old star admits it’s definitely a move in a more serious direction.

“Everyone at some point in their life experiences loss,” said Efron. “This is a story that comes from love and how even when someone moves on, a piece of them will always be alive inside your heart so it relates to everybody.”

While playing a character that grieves in a unique way (he routinely meets the spirit of his sibling to toss a baseball around) may have proven emotionally challenging for the actor, Efron also had to learn to become an expert mariner — a pursuit that sounds much more gratifying.

“I never sailed before so I got the crash course,” said Efron. “It was incredibly fun. Everyday we had a regimen — wake up, sail for six hours, come in sunburned and then sleep for the rest of the day.”

Whoever claimed high school were the best years of one’s life clearly wasn’t living the life of Zac Efron.

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