He has since evolved into an action star and big box office name — and his buff body has followed him every step of the way.
“I can’t explain to you what it’s like to be a heartthrob, [because] I don’t think I am a heartthrob,” the New Year’s Eve star told CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Tracy Smith in April 2012. “I hate [that word]. I hate it. It follows you around, but you don’t deserve it. It’s like, ‘Why?’ It’s just me. I’m just Zac.”
Efron’s active lifestyle, which involves adventures around the world, is part of the reason he is so fit. He has trained for different roles in the past and survived the wilderness with Bear Grylls due to his work ethic.
“When I’m very careful about my fitness and have a goal in mind, it keeps me motivated and balanced,” he told Men’s Journal in June 2016. “I wake up earlier. I don’t feel the need to be out — that kills your day, your hobbies, and your motivation.”
The 17 Again star, who has been sober since 2013, joked that “if the zombie apocalypse happened right now, I’d definitely be able to defend myself.”
Baywatch costar Alexandra Daddario revealed in April 2017 that she “wasn’t prepared” when she touched Efron’s abs for the first time.
“It was like an animalistic shock went through me. I don’t know. He’s, like, not human,” she told Entertainment Tonight at the time. “He’s like something Michelangelo carved. I’ve never seen a man that looks like him. It’s incredible.”
Despite getting attention for his look in the 2017 lifeguard film, Efron revealed that he was “too big” and it was unnatural.
“For guys, that’s unrealistic. I’m telling you,” the Dirty Grandpa actor told Ellen DeGeneres in April 2019, when looking at his Madame Tussauds wax figure inspired by his movie appearance. “I got very big and buff for that movie, but I don’t want people to think that’s the best way to be. Like, be your size. I don’t want to glamorize this.”
Scroll down to see Efron’s buff body throughout the years.