Vulture’s analysis of the market worth of actors and actresses have always been interesting, and I thought the column’s analysis of Zac Efron is particularly worth reading. It’s not because I have any particular investment in that particular young man’s career—at least Romeo+Juliet had some really cracking performances in it, and I don’t think my bewilderment at the corniness and stiffness of High School Musical franchise stems only from my confusion about what Kids These Days like—but because Efron’s in that odd stage where teen stars, and hell, all of us, try to construct a personality.
So far, his tools seem to be allowing news reports that he spent some time and money at a strip club, and reports that he’s working on some more substantive projects, including ones where he takes supporting roles, rather than leading ones. But louche behavior doesn’t constitute a personality. You need to have a reason to do it. If Efron’s going to strip joints because he’s bored with Vanessa Hudgens, or going because she finds it titillating that he goes to strip clubs, or because that’s where young Hollywood comes to do deals these days, those things are interesting. The fact of him having a night out with the boys is not.
Efron’s been acting relatively regularly since he was fifteen. If he wants a personality, perhaps he should go out and have some actual experiences, like going to college, or having a gap year and traveling. He could take a leaf from Julia Stiles’ path. Even if a second stab at acting doesn’t work out for her, she’s going to have a life, and a self, to fall back on.