Zac Efron chats Charlie St Cloud

Jul 28, 2010 at 11:36 a.m. ET

Zac Efron is more than just a pretty face. In Charlie St Cloud, Zac Efron proves his dramatic mettle as a brother who loses his little brother to a drunk driver and must face life alone.

The range of emotions Zac Efron goes through as an actor in Charlie St Cloud is immense and the High School Musical and Hairspray actor welcomed the challenge with gusto.

Charlie St Cloud starring Zac Efron opens nation wide July 30

"I loved what the movie stood for -- the themes and messages about families and strength," Zac Efron said. "Being able to move on, keeping your loved ones alive inside your heart, it all rang true to me."

Zac Efron knew he wanted to act at an early age. His proximity to Hollywood, growing up in Southern California, allowed him to be at the right place at the right time. That moment, as the world knows, was the phenomenon of High School Musical.

Not only did High School Musical provide the venue for Zac Efron to meet the love of his life, Vanessa Hudgens, but it also sent him from a Disney darling to someone who could potentially be the next Tom Cruise. If his turn in High School Musical and Hairspray is akin to Cruise's Top Gun and Days of Thunder, then Charlie St Cloud is Zac Efron's Born on the Fourth of July. We are not suggesting Zac Efron is an Oscar-caliber actor as Tom Cruise was with his nominated portrayal of the real-life Ron Kovic, but what we are saying is that Zac Efron is every bit as capable to follow in Cruise's footsteps with a blockbuster career.

Charlie St Cloud: A tale of two brothers

SheKnows: There's a real sense of a brotherly bond in Charlie St Cloud. How did you and actor Charlie Tahan find each other that you were able to pull that off?

Zac Efron: There are your typical everyday brothers. We're a bit closer. We didn't grow up with a father in the movie. We really rely on each other for a lot more in that camaraderie. I'm trying to raise him to be the young man that can be successful and strong. We have a stronger than normal brother relationship.

SheKnows: Charlie told us that he's not really into sports…yet you would never know it watching the film.

Charlie St Cloud is the story of brothers

Zac Efron: Baseball is the way that we connect. It's our ritual. We talk about it and connect over it. That's the way I instill a lot of the rules of success in him. It's through a foundation -- baseball.

SheKnows: And sailing, too, you guys really demonstrate you know what you're doing out there…

Zac Efron: That was really fun. For such a short scene, it took a long time to film. The sailing scenes were fun and they're great for the movie. But, when you're out there doing the real sailing, it's hard. Because the boats are so unstable and you're on them for so long, we wouldn't get seasick, we'd actually get land sick. We'd come back onto land and everything would be moving [laughs]. I remember buildings looked like they were shaking, it was so weird. But, we did become pretty good sailors by the end.

Zac Efron emotes

SheKnows: Zac, this role is a bit out of your comfort zone of late. Yet, everyone is kind of expecting great things of you. How's that for a challenge?

Zac Efron: My first reaction when I read the script was that it was really emotional. I connected with it. I have a little brother in real life. Envisioning what it would be like to lose my little brother evoked a very strong emotional reaction. I loved that.

SheKnows: How did Charlie do? We just talked to him...

Zac Efron: He was one of the first to come in and audition. After that we kind of forgot about everyone else. He really has that star quality. He's really a natural.

SheKnows: Even though Charlie is younger than your brother, was it the envisioning of your brother that pulled your emotional levers?

Zac Efron: I think it was being real people. We just liked to hang out. I felt very much like he was my real little brother the whole time. So, it was good to have a partner in crime on set because everyone else was really old [laughs]. We were the youngest guys on set. We just wanted to go out and do fun stuff! Everyone else would just go back and go to sleep. I'd look at him and say, "Hey, you want to go to a hockey game?" Fun stuff boys do [laughs].

SheKnows: Why did you jump on board so quickly? You were the first to sign to be a part of Charlie St Cloud.

Zac Efron: The character's journey, everything that happens to him, the experience of loss and not being able to rebound. After doing High School Musical and things that are so upbeat and happy and have a certain heightened reality, and 17 Again, too, this was grounded and real, something I had never done before, something that is new to share with the audience. Hopefully, they'll like it.

SheKnows: Working with your love interest Amanda Crew, what is she like?

Zac Efron in Charlie St Cloud

Zac Efron: I remember the first time I met her on her audition. We were taken aback by how great she is. She's different. She has a unique quality to her. It makes her character shine.