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Posted at 2:10 PM ET, 07/29/2010

For Zac Efron, advice on reaching movie star maturity

By Jen Chaney

Zac Efron began to chart a path away from shiny, happy "High School Musical" land with last year's engaging, but little seen "Me and Orson Welles." This weekend, he takes a few more steps along that same, take-me-seriously road with the release of his latest film, the weepy drama "Charlie St. Cloud."

In his personal life, Efron also appears to be seeking to pursue more "adult" behavior. On Wednesday's "Jimmy Kimmel Live," he confirmed that he and "High School Musical" co-star Corbin Bleu visited a strip club in New York as rumored, an incident that New York magazine characterized as another potentially calculated move to prove that Efron is, indeed, a grown man. Of course, he was so honest and cute about the whole thing on "Kimmel" that the effort -- if it was indeed an effort -- may not have achieved the desired effect.

Given these developments, this seems like a good time to hit pause and consider whether Efron's actions so far are getting his career where he wants to go. With that in mind, and at the risk of being presumptuous (like that's ever stopped us), here are a few pieces of advice for Efron as he makes the transition from dreamboat boy to Hollywood leading man.

Skip the strip clubs: Obviously, watching naked women dance is not illegal. And in the wide scheme of things, it's not such a big deal. I mean, even girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens reportedly didn't seem to mind. But it's sad to think that Efron might be trying to shake his squeaky-clean image by going the seedy route. Efron has, so far, conducted himself with some class. He should keep doing so. Know what's more grown-up than hitting a strip club? Knowing that going to one has nothing to do with maturity.

Avoid the sappy romances: In addition to several other projects he's pursuing, Efron has reportedly signed on to star in "The Lucky One," another love story based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. Not sure that's a wise move, given the response to "Charlie St. Cloud." Efron needs to pursue more fare along the lines of "Orson Welles" -- films helmed by adventurous directors like Richard Linklater that challenge him to push into acting territory he hasn't yet explored.

Pursue some comedy: Efron's decision to voice Anakin Skywalker in the upcoming "Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III" was a smart one. He should sign up for more gigs like this and, as former teen heartthrob Justin Timberlake did before him, prove he has the ability to handle edgy improv comedy.

Consider supporting roles: Efron also has, wisely, started his own production company (Ninjas Runnin' Wild), evidence that he wants the power to push to get passion projects made. Here's hoping that at least some of those projects will afford him the opportunity to play supporting roles. Efron doesn't always have to be the leading man whose blue eyes glimmer perfectly for the camera. A few well-chosen smaller parts could allow him to demonstrate that he's as committed to the craft as he is to cultivating his own image.

Don't shy away from musicals: Efron was probably smart to drop out of "Footloose." But hopefully he won't avoid all song-and-dance opportunities going forward. Clearly he has talent in this arena. Signing up for a quality movie musical, as he did with "Hairspray," a Broadway show or, dare I say it, a guest stint on "Glee" would allow him to show off his best assets in a context that isn't Disney Channel-related.

Got additional advice for Mr. Efron? Offer your own career suggestions by weighing in with a comment.

By Jen Chaney  | July 29, 2010; 2:10 PM ET
Categories:  Celebrities, Celebrity Life Lessons, Movies  
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"...[Efron] and "High School Musical" co-star Corbin Bleu visited a strip club in New York..."

Misread this as co-star Cordon Bleu (a Julia Child female inpersonator?).

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | July 29, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you completely. Spot on. He better not do that Nicholas sparks movie if he knows what good for his career. Having 2 chick flicks back to back will not broaden his demographic. Sadly, I think his girlfriend Vanessa hudgens is doing a heck of a lot better job of moving forward than he is right now. He should definitely consider great supporting roles instead of just leading roles.

Posted by: pickled1 | July 29, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Shouldn't the name of that movie be "Orson Welles and I"? Me and Orson Welles... I groan out loud just reading it. No wonder people stayed away.

Posted by: biffgrifftheoneandonly | July 29, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Nosy, that reminds me of a (great?) song from back in the 70's, about a guy whose girlfriend went vegetarian. It's called the Chicken Cordon Bleus, and here's a link to the lyrics:

Posted by: kabuki3 | July 29, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Jen - I think you're more upset about Mr. Efron going to the strip club than his girlfriend is.

Posted by: steampunk | July 30, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

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