It’s senior year and Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale and Corbin Bleu are going to say goodbye to Disney’s film franchise that made them four of Hollywood’s hottest young stars, but not before talking to ComingSoon.net about the experience of making High School Musical 3: Senior Year. First up were Efron, Blue and “High School Musical” franchise director Kenny Ortega:
Question: How you plan to transition into more adult roles?
Corbin Bleu: It’s all about range. We as artists, we’re never satisfied. So you’ve got to always continue to stretch yourself. I’m focusing on getting some more in-depth roles. It would be nice to truly challenge myself, stretch a little bit more. Also interested in just expanding into other art forms as well. I’m working on music, I’m into the studio working on my second album. And I’m also producing. I produced a film with my father called “Free Style” which is about motor cross and will be out in January in theatres.
Zac Efron: Before “High School Musical 3” I filmed a movie called “17 Again,” playing a 37-year-old guy in a 17-year-old’s body. That was interesting. And then right after
that filmed a movie called “Me and Orson Welles”, more of a drama, set in 1937, about the Mercury theatre troupe putting on a production of Julius Caesar. So two different roles.
Q: Knowing this is the last “HSM,” did you savor every moment?
Efron: When we were filming “High School Musical,” we took every opportunity to kind of revel in the scenes and dances because we knew this would be the last time we were all together in this capacity, so we were soaking it up.
Q: Zac, are you doing “Footloose”?
Efron: “Footloose” is coming together, actually. We’re trying to figure out the right way to do it, but yeah, it seems like it could happen.
Q: What will you miss most?
Efron: I don’t know if you can put it all into one specific memory. I think it’s just the environment. It’s been a very safe, creative place for us to work in the last three years. And it’s going to be pretty hard to leave that behind.
Q: Troy and Chad are trying to find out what they want to be. What about you when you were kids?
Efron: I had no idea I wanted to be an actor. I went through high school just like all the other guys. I didn’t really have any plans for my future. This was kind of my extra-curricular and my hobby, and I know various doors opened and I went through them and I ended up where I am today.
Bleu: You know, it changes. When you’re a kid, you have grand ideas to become a lot of different things. It changed. I wanted to be a marine biologist. I wanted to be a plastic surgeon. Eventually came down to two directions and it was pediatrician or an actor. Now I can at least play a doctor on TV. I grew up in it, and always knew I wanted the arts to be my life. It was just whether it would be a full on career or not, and the time came that I had to make the decision, and I actually decided just to go with what I love doing.
Q: What was the last scene you shot and what was going through your minds?
Bleu: The final scene in the movie was actually the final scene we shot, which is very rare. You constantly shoot out of order. The final scene of the film being the curtain closing on these characters, on their lives at high school, was very similar. It was art mimics life in this category. We were all up on stage, and reminiscing about these past three years. This was the same stage where we shot “Breaking Free.” This was the same stage where we experienced so many creative break-throughs with each other and friendships. I mean it was a very emotional time. I remember we all went back to the…
Kenny Ortega: They were all crying. It was this stage that so many wonderful things happened on for us, and where it all sort of started for us. And suddenly, the curtain was like literally closing on them, and it was overwhelming, and the entire cast, one at a time, started to crumble, and we had to stop shooting, and Bill ordered the van to come and pick them up and send them back to the make-up trailer. It took some time to get everybody back, didn’t it?
Q: Were you actually crying?
Efron: Yes. Corbin was crying. We were standing on the stage watching the curtain close, and this was where everything began for us. Like Corbin said, this is where we did “Breaking Free” and “Bop to the Top,” so many musical numbers. That’s where it all started and it was symbolic of our journey. We’d come a long way as Wildcats but even more as individuals.
Bleu: And to maintain our manhood, we didn’t cry in front of everybody on the stage. We waited until we got back to the makeup trailer and let loose. Just the six of us that were there, and of course we just broke down. Girls’ makeup was running.
Efron: Corbin waited until he got there…
Q: Besides shooting the movie, what is your favorite memory of being in Salt Lake?
Bleu: Laker / Jazz game. That was fun. Getting to go of course we’re Lakers fans. The Jazz fans were wonderful to make us feel so welcome.
Efron: We got court side seats.
Bleu: We did get court side seats. I remember I sported the Lakers jersey in the Jazz arena. They invited us on the stage and I got booed.
Efron: We walked on the court and he was wearing was it a Kobe jersey?
Bleu: It was a Kobe jersey.
Efron: The Utah arena is known for being the loudest in the states. Corbin held up his hand and it was kind of awesome, but he got booed off the court.
Bleu: What was great is that I actually got a chance to work with Magic Johnson and I also saw Sasha. They remembered it and they were like, “Man thank you so much for sporting the jersey.” I was representing Laker proud.
Q: Zac and Corbin are you registered to vote and are you endorsing a candidate?
Efron: I am registered to vote and I’m going to encourage voting, but I’m not going to encourage anyone to vote for a particular candidate.
Bleu: I am registered to vote and I’m a Barack Obama supporter.
Q: Zac you had a scary fan encounter recently. How are you handling all of the fame?
Efron: There was no scary fan encounter. I didn’t get touched. I don’t know exactly what happened. I kind of walked and got into a car. I had all my relatives calling me, “What happened, what happened?” It was blown out of proportion. I don’t recall.
Q: In general how do you deal with the stardom?
Efron: I’m having a good time.
Q: What’s the biggest thing you’ve taken away from this experience?
Bleu: Wow that is one of the most difficult questions just because it’s so broad. This has been three years of our life. If you were to ask anybody in this room – the past three of your life to chose one specific moment especially with everything we’ve been through. We’ve traveled the world and have experienced all different types of cultures, we’ve met millions of people – it’s impossible to lump it into one specific moment. One thing I have said before is I don’t know if I can chose a specific moment from this, but I think at the end of my life I will be able to say that one of the best times of my life was when I was involved with “High School Musical.”
Efron: Yeah great friends and good movies. I’m very proud of everything we’ve accomplished.
Next up, we talked to Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale:
Q: Vanessa, are you proud to be representing Latinas in these “High School Musical” films?
Vanessa Hudgens: That’s actually one thing that drew me to the project. It wasn’t the stereotypical leading lady; the fact that she is Hispanic, Gabriella Montez, was something that I found really interesting and I’m very proud to be a part of it. I feel like there’s not that many people who can represent for a different ethnicity and I’m really proud. Whenever I get the chance to go to Mexico, I try my hardest to speak Spanish to connect with everybody but it really is an honor.
Q: In all three of these movies, you seem so happy. What makes you so happy all the time?
Hudgens: [laughter]. I get to do what I love. It’s amazing. I grew up acting and singing and dancing and I get to work with my best friends. This is the dream job and I really love my character. She’s this strong, positive young woman who is always fighting for the right things so she’s a fun character to play. I’m a happy person as well so it’s always easy to put a smile on your face.
Q: Your characters have to make a decision about what to do with your lives after high school. Growing up, did you always know what you wanted to be when you were an adult?
Ashley Tisdale: Actually, it’s really funny because at a young age, I’ve really always known what I wanted to do. I’ve been in the business since I was three. I kind of fell into it. My parents didn’t want me in the business so they never pushed me to do anything. All they pushed me to do was to have an education and go to regular school and just be normal just like everybody else even though I was doing commercials at a young age and touring the world in “Les Miserables” at age eight. But, that’s because I want to do it. I get inspired when I see things. I went to New York and saw “Les Miserables” – I had to do it. I wanted to do it. I’m just very lucky and blessed that I actually got to. I usually put my mind towards things and I end up doing it which not everybody can say they can do that so I am like my character Sharpay in a way where she always knows what she wants and she goes out there and gets it. However we go about it in a different way.
Q: Ashley, this kind of sets you up for ‘The Sharpay Evans Musical’ in number 4. Is that going to happen and also, can the cast talk about shooting the final scene?
Tisdale: I don’t know anything about that. It is flattering to have an open door, obviously for my character but I am doing other projects as well and moving on. But, this project is something I’ll always hold close to my heart. We have so much fun and we’ve created such an amazing family. I had the best time on and off screen with this cast. And the last day? It was totally emotional.
Q: Vanessa, I wanted to ask you about ballroom dancing with Zac. Is that something you both had done before or something you had to learn?
Hudgens: Oh no, we definitely had to learn. It was the most difficult dance that I’ve had to do throughout the three movies just because it’s so different. I’ve taken tap and jazz and hip-hop but nothing could have prepared me for doing the waltz; the lifts we do, the turns we do, it was a lot. When Kenny [Ortega] told me about it, I thought he was kidding because it’s just so far-fetched but I’m really proud of it It’s just so classic and so classy and it’s so sweet and romantic that it actually turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the movie and I really proud that it came out so well.
Q: What’s your favorite scene or favorite song?
Hudgens: It’s so hard. We’ve done three movies. It’s been three years of our lives that we’ve had the most amazing time. We’ve done so much together and been through so much that picking one memory is almost impossible. One really great thing for me was “We’re All in This Together” because it was kind of where our magic really came into the picture. We became this family and it was a moment that was really special, really magical. I remember me and Monique [Coleman] were crying, Monique was crying and it was a really great moment for me.
Q: How did your real-life Senior year compare to this film?
Tisdale: For me, my real-life Senior year was completely opposite of Sharpay’s. She’s thinking about a Julliard scholarship the entire Senior year because it’s a step towards Broadway for her whereas I was already acting in my high school. I had to make a big decision. Education is very important in the family. My sister went to Cal State Northridge and so I’d asked my dad, “can I please take off a year before I go to college because I really want to focus on my acting.” In order to do that he said, “well, you have to take as many acting classes as you can. I don’t want you sitting around waiting for an audition.” And I did. I took as many acting classes as I could. I went to Groundlings for improv. But, I actually missed the structure of school because I went to regular school my whole life. But that was just a choice I made because I knew I wanted to be an actress. If I went to college it would have been for writing but I get to co-write my music on my album so I get to use that. But, now Sharpay is going to U of Albuquerque and assisting Ms. Darbus [in the High School Drama Department].
Hudgens: I was actually home-schooled so I never really went to high school. That’s just another reason why “High School Musical” means so much to me. I got to go to my prom for the first time but it’s a lot better. I got to have the prom that every girl wishes they had and I got to wear a cap and gown for the very first time and graduate with people who I love dearly, the cast who have become some of my closest friends so it’s been a lot of fun.
High School Musical 3: Senior Year opens in theaters on Friday, October 24.