Zac Efron has engaged in a variety of roles throughout his career. Whether voice acting in animated films, leaving people in stitches from his raunchy comedies, or undergoing the dark, ominous part of Ted Bundy, it’s clear Efron has a wide range of skills he can perform. The 34-year-old actor has been on-screen since a young age, essentially growing up alongside his fan-base. What started as a high school basketball dreamboat grew up to be a traveling environmentalist documenting his experiences to share with the world in the Emmy-nominated Netflix original Down to Earth. And along the way, audiences have seen him belt iconic tunes from “We’re All in this Together” to “What Time is It?” and many more.
Though Efron is not a pop star or a Broadway icon, he has dabbled in a good share of musicals throughout his career. He rose to stardom and became Disney Channel’s It-boy back in the early 2000s, having starred in one of its most successful franchises, High School Musical. But his musicality did not end there: Efron lent his voice to a number of musical films in his career, and with his level of talent, it will not be surprising if the two-time People’s Choice Award winner goes on to burst into random song and dance numbers in another film in the future. Here’s every Zac Efron musical movie, ranked.
6 The Lorax
After the success of 20th Century Fox’s Horton Hears a Who, Illumination Studios brought another one of Dr. Seuss’ cherished children’s books to the big screen. In 2012, The Lorax premiered, featuring a stellar voice cast of Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Betty White and, of course, Efron himself. The movie produced a series of absolute bangers including perhaps the most popular, “How Bad Can I Be?” performed by Helms’ character, The Onceler. Despite Efron having previously dipped his toes into the music world, his character did not perform any musical melodies. Even more oddly, the movie also featured the voice work of multiple Grammy Award winner Taylor Swift, and yet her character Audrey did not sing either.
5 High School Musical
Efron’s first musical role goes back to 2006, where he starred as Troy Bolton, the basketball player turned musical theater superstar of East High. Though his leading role earned his character a collection of solos, audiences can count on one hand the amount of lines Efron actually sang. With the exception of the opening lyrics to “Start of Something New” and “Breaking Free,” as well as the reprise to the former that Efron performs on Gabriella’s balcony, his lines were dubbed by singer / songwriter Drew Seeley. The producers wanted Troy to sing tenor and, at the time, Efron’s voice was too low to do so. Even if he did not sing, however, he still accomplished impressive dance moves and memorable acting, winning the hearts of teen girls everywhere.
4 High School Musical 3
High School Musical 3 became the first Disney Channel sequel to bring forth a theatrical release. And any middle schooler in 2009 could tell you tgat the film was worth seeing on a big screen. The tenor issue had been resolved, and the final 2 installations of the franchise tailored songs to match Efron’s voice. Efron delivered the intense “Now or Never,” the mesmerizing duet “Can I Have This Dance?” Not to mention, he captured the absolute teen angst that was “Scream,” a number complete with raining basketballs, a strobe light and a rotating hallway.
3 The Greatest Showman
Almost a decade after the HSM trilogy, Efron returned to the musical scene for this 2017 PT Barnum period drama starring Hugh Jackman. In The Greatest Showman, Efron played Phillip Carlyle, a playwright who went on to become Barnum’s business partner, and love interest to an African American trapeze artist, played by Zendaya. Not only did Efron and Jackman perform a witty duet featuring a bartender and a great amount of shot glasses, he and Zendaya also sang the Teen Choice Award-winning number, “Rewrite the Stars” – “sang,” however, being an understatement, as the two executed a perfectly synchronized acrobatic dance number that made viewers fall in love and consider joining the circus. The soundtrack, written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul went on to win various awards, including a Grammy and a Golden Globe.
At the peak of Efron’s teen stardom, he starred in Hairspray as Link Larkin, the 1960’s crooner and apple of Tracy Turnblad’s (Nikki Blonsky) eye in this remake of the 1988 classic and 2002 stage production. Efron performed hits like “It Takes Two,” “Without Love” and “Ladies’ Choice,” an original tune that had not been featured in the Broadway rendition. With a black, gelled hairdo and an iconic wink, viewers got to see a dazzling performance from the then 20-year-old outside of Disney, making for the guy everyone came to love but with a slight edge given the topics of race and prejudice , but also the occasional swearing from the Disney star.
1 High School Musical 2
On August 17, 2007, 17 million people tuned into Disney Channel to watch the sequel that brought forth Efron’s dancing-through-a-golf-course-while-angry routine, “Bet On It,” which would later become the source of parodies throughout Vine and TikTok. Unlike its predecessor, Efron performed all of his musical numbers from start to finish, singing in all but three songs on the entire soundtrack. Though the other two films portrayed Efron’s surefire talent, High School Musical 2 is arguably the best in the franchise with its reunion of the characters viewers came to love and fun, summer themes. Plus, to this day “Bet On It” is THAT musical number.
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