Zac Efron has graduated from Disney Channel’s “High School Musical” to New Line’s “Hairspray.”
New Line and director Adam Shankman have set Efron to play Link, the hunky heartthrob of “The Corny Collins Show,” in the screen adaptation of the Broadway musical spawned by the John Waters film.
Nicole Blonsky won the role of Tracy Turnblad after a nationwide search.
Shankman said he needed to be sure Efron wouldn’t be replicating the wholesome nature of the Disney Channel pic.
“I was a bit dismissive, because that film is pure Disney, and I told him I needed a more subversive energy,” Shankman said. “He worked on it and he gave it to me.”
He added: “I had no idea this Disney Channel musical was such a publicity juggernaut, but it became clear to me when I was told Zac would miss rehearsals when ‘High School Musical’ is launched in Europe, and (Queen Elizabeth II) requested an audience with him.”
Shankman and producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are planning a Sept. 5 start, meaning the 18-year old Efron will have to put other plans on hold. He’s been accepted to USC, but will try to defer his enrollment after landing the “Hairspray” role.
Efron got this role after trying for several other studio films.
“I’ve gotten as far as the fifth or sixth callback on movies, but it is more than I could imagine to get the role in a film like this,” Efron said.