Zac Efron plays a young resident in 'Parkland.'
(Photo: Claire Folger Exclusive Media Entertainment, LLC)
TORONTO - A year and a half ago Zac Efron was dipping a toe in more adult fare, playing the stormy love interest in The Lucky One.
Then he starred in Lee Daniels' The Paperboy, a no-holds-barred Floridian tale of murder and sex co-starring Nicole Kidman. That performance (at least, according to the thick stack of press notes Parkland reps were handing out) caught Parkland director Peter Landesman's eye.
The Paperboy "was raw and dirty," Efron concedes in an interview hours before Parkland's premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. "That movie was really unafraid to go certain places. I definitely was able to challenge myself in a different way than The Lucky One, for instance. And I think that's part of the reason that I was maybe thought of for this."
He flashes a grin. " But I'm not sure. I'll ask Peter."
It's obvious that Parkland (due out Oct. 4) marks "a different ball game," says Efron, who plays a doctor. Meanwhile, he has two films on the horizon for early 2014: the comedy Are We Officially Dating?with Fruitvale Station's Michael B. Jordan, and Neighborswith Seth Rogen.
"It's really a surreal experience for me to be involved with these actors, with (Parkland's) story," says Efron, while trading on-set stories with Paul Giamatti and Colin Hanks. "It's something that feels very mature and really interesting. It's a whole different kind of filmmaking and I feel blessed to have been a part of it."