By Lorena Blas, USA TODAY
Disney's High School Musical sweetheart is all grown up and talking about his next movie, The Paperboy (out next month).
In the Lee Daniels-directed thriller, Zac Efron, 24, strips down to his undies and even dances in the rain with Nicole Kidman.
Efron, who is attending the Toronto Film Festival, opens up in an interview with The Advocate about the role and his longstanding support from gay fans.
On working with Oscar nominee and gay director Daniels, who also helmed Precious, Efron says, "All he required of me was that I be fearless, and that's something I'm really working on right now in my career."
Efron tells The Advocate that he had no reservations about playing the part. And if the scene of him dancing around in his skivvies gets gay blogs excited about him, he's OK with that, too. "It's very flattering. After High School Musical and Hairspray, I've always felt embraced by the gay community, and I feel incredibly grateful and honored."
He says that he became aware of his gay following especially after High School Musical. "I think the gay audience related to my character Troy, because it really was a story of embracing who you are, no matter how different you might be, and not being afraid to show it. That's a universal theme for everyone, but it specifically resonated with the gay community, and I felt very proud of that."
Efron recalls his first interaction with gay people happened at a young age."I started doing local theater so young -- I was 12 -- so to me, being gay was just another way that you can be. I never really had time to think about it or have any preconceived notions. I don't judge anyone and I never have."
And as for gay marriage, well, he supports it. "It's an issue that affects so many people in my life -- a lot of my close friends and some of the most influential people around me. I just want them all to be happy. It would make me so happy to see them able to live their lives and do what they want to do."