This weekend Zac Efron goes head-to-head with Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as the beefcake leader of a fraternity in the comedy Neighbors. But his post-High School Musical career really began with Richard Linklater's Me & Orson Welles, which screened at the 2008 Toronto Film Festival and was released in November 2009.
If anything's remembered from Me & Orson Welles, it's likely Christian McKay's performance as Welles, which was spectacularly dead on without being an impersonation. (McKay had played Welles on stage before Linklater cast him.)
Though Me & Orson Welles is a more adult film than any Efron had made previously, his character, Richard, has the similar earnestness that defined his previous parts in High School Musical and Hairspray. He even sings and dances a little bit. Richard is a high school kid with, naturally, matinee idol looks, who gets a small part in Welles' legendary production of Julius Caesar thanks to a bit of street-corner bravado. The rest of the film is a homage to the "the-a-ter" of yore, as Richard watches the production come together under the guidance of Welles' difficult genius, and falls in love with Sonja, Claire Danes' beautiful production assistant with David O. Selznick dreams.