The M Interview: Bare necessities of being Zac Efron
Zac Efron goes shirtless and shows off his washboard abs in Bad Neighbours 2 and Baywatch, but admits attaining a "movie six-pack" is far from fun
Actor Zac Efron doesn't seem to mind being objectified.
And his female fans are all the happier for it.
It started with the raunchy 2014 hit comedy Bad Neighbours, which won him MTV Movie Awards for Best Shirtless Performance and Best On-Screen Duo, with co-star Dave Franco.
In the sequel, Bad Neighbours 2, which opens here tomorrow, the 28-year-old Californian reprises his role as Teddy Sanders, the party-loving frat boy who now has a police record, no decent job and no direction.
We can safely assume Sanders spends his free time working out because every few minutes in the movie, he whips off his shirt to show off his washboard abs. And he dances topless.
When a bunch of hard-partying college sorority girls takes over his old fraternity house, Sanders makes himself useful by helping them find financing - until they settle in and fire him.
This makes him switch sides to his old nemeses next door, the Radners (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne), who are selling their house and need to convince the buyers that the neighbourhood is peaceful and quiet.
Sanders has become Efron's "favourite character" to play as he found "something deeper" in his alter ego.
He told M: "He is like an open wound. He is ferocious, sensitive, lost, sometimes smart and extraordinarily stupid the rest of the time.
"There are complexities. He can't find real people to connect with. He is searching for family and for love."
What was it like filming the dance sequence at the tailgate party scene?
The funny thing about doing dance movies (High School Musical, Hairspray, 17 Again) is that from then on, everybody thinks I am a great dancer. I don't think I'm a great dancer. It's just that I am a physical person, so I can pick up movements and learn skills relatively quickly.
But that didn't help because the night before the shoot, I asked, 'What song am I dancing to?'
The director said, 'What song do you want to dance to?' I was, like, 'You mean you don't have a plan for this?' And he said, 'No, I am going to let you go.'
So I called a buddy of mine whom I worked with on Hairspray. He dropped everything and flew to Georgia to spend an hour with me. We spent time in front of a mirror, doing a dance, and that is what we did for the movie.
Have there been times while shooting when you would resist taking off your shirt?
Yeah, even while shooting Baywatch (Efron plays a lifeguard in the movie adaptation of the TV show), there are scenes where I go, 'Is it really necessary for my character to be shirtless?'
I think there is working out for health, for the ability to do what I want to do - which is to climb mountains, swim and surf - and to be athletic, and then there is that movie six-pack which requires a lot of self-discipline - that is not fun at times.
What was the Baywatch training like?
Not eating carbohydrates sucks - it's the worst part of it.
Keeping that up over the course of filming can sometimes hurt my performance because I show up with half of my brain.
I think I have to pick those moments for my shirtless scenes. If planned correctly, I can do what Sylvester Stallone used to do: Knock out all the shirtless scenes in the first two weeks and then shoot the rest of the movie. But I haven't encountered that yet. It's usually "Zac, shirt off".
Any plans to make another musical?
I would love to... I think the key is finding an original musical... I am actively searching for it. I still sing in the shower.
What do you sing?
Everything. When I am working, I kind of use music to get in the mood for stuff.
I am listening to Purple Rain and Prince on repeat. And Drake's album came out, so I am trying to memorise all those lyrics.
Love thy neighbour?
Close encounters with the neighbours in these movies would drive you crazy
The Boy Next Door (2015)
Bad Neighbours (2014)
Fright Night (2011)
Lakeview Terrace (2008)
Funny Games (2007)
American Beauty (1999)