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OMG, It’s Zac Efron!

OMG, It’s Zac Efron! (photo)

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Between his roles in the Broadway musical adaptation “Hairspray,” two seasons on the WB series “Summerland” and the unholy Disney Channel trilogy “High School Musical,” blue-eyed, pert-nosed actor and singer Zac Efron’s become a heartthrob to young girls en masse. Now just 22 years old, he’s begun to diversify in his career pickings, following up this past spring’s studio comedy “17 Again” with the Richard Linklater-directed period indie “Me and Orson Welles.”

Based on Robert Kaplow’s novel, the film stars Efron as Richard Samuels, an ambitious teen actor who weasels his way into a 1937 Broadway production of “Julius Caesar,” directed by a megalomaniacal, temperamental genius: yes, one mister Orson Welles (rivetingly played by Christian McKay). As Richard becomes smitten with a tough-minded production assistant (Claire Danes), he learns that both love and success have their complications, but at least he gets to sing. By phone, Efron spoke with me about him and Orson Welles, the worst part about being in a period piece and the odd pressures of being a tweenybopper idol.

In “Me and Orson Welles,” you ask Claire Danes’ character what it’s like to be a beautiful woman. So, on behalf of your squealing girls everywhere, what’s it like to be so dreamy?

[laughs] What’s it like? I don’t know. It’s not tangible, really. Anything you say here is kind of weird. It’s just the way that it is.

I’m being cheeky, but seriously, you’ve achieved a high level of success at such a young age. At 22, I certainly didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Do you feel like you won’t even be able to process some of these experiences until later?

Yes, most definitely. It’s been a whirlwind couple of years, a very exciting time. I feel like I’m in the height of living, and I’m just absorbing everything. That’s one thing that I’m addicted to at this point, having those achievements and raising the standard. That’s the best part of it all is that it’s growing, and there’s still room to grow.

But I’m sure there are some added pressures that come with fame, like with your appearance. I imagine you’re forced to look absolutely fabulous just to leave the house, while the rest of us can unashamedly run errands in any grubby old thing.

Yeah, there are small things you definitely miss. [laughs] The thing about it is if you comment on it, or talk about the negativity around it, it’s not really comprehensible to anybody. It’s one of the weirdest things to talk about with friends or family or anyone, to be honest.

There are little things you have to forgo. If you walk around in sweatpants and don’t shave or shower, or look a bit sleepy, there’s a high probability that there are going to be rumors out there that you’re on drugs or starting some sort of spiral downhill. So I’ve always tried to look my best, and look clean when I go outside. I think I owe it to everybody to show up well-groomed and put in a little effort. It’s the least I can do.

11252009_zacefron7.jpgThis film seems like a logical first step in transitioning to, for lack of a better term, an adult career. How self-conscious are you in planning out what you would like to do next, or five years from now?

You know, that’s a question I’ve been getting a lot recently. It’s like this is a chess game: “What are your next three moves?” Everybody wants to know, as if I’m looking that far down the line, or have some kind of strategy. But it’s really not the case at all, man. It’s more like surfing. I’m just riding it, not planning anything. I’m trying to follow my heart.

My judgment of what is a good film is developing over time, especially the more I work with great directors. I think the transition will come naturally, and I want it to come that way. I’m not going to calculate five moves to fame. To me, success is not victory. I’m trying not to let it become something that ever influences my decisions. In my mind, I’m not successful.

If you could pick any actor’s career of today or yesteryear, whose would you most like to emulate?

I guess Johnny Depp. Someone told me recently, “You should be like Johnny Depp and do something to change your image, something dark and messed up so people take you seriously.” I don’t think that’s what he did at all. He found a brilliant creative partner and mentor in Tim Burton, collaborated and came up with fantastic characters and great movies. I think that’s where I am right now, searching for that mentor. Not that I could ever try to copy those guys.


Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at


Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…