Soaring, flying! Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens met while auditioning for their roles in High School Musical — and sparks flew between the actors from the very start.
“For all of the partner things, me and Vanessa always got paired up,” Efron revealed during a July 2007 interview with Disney, recalling his audition opposite Hudgens. “I was like, ‘They’re not trying us with other people.’ For some reason, we kept sticking around [for callbacks]. I don’t know what it was with Vanessa, but we kind of clicked from the very beginning.”
That chemistry ultimately landed Efron and Hudgens as the lead roles in the Disney Channel film — Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez, respectively — who meet at a holiday karaoke party and later fall in love while portraying leads in their school’s musical. The movie, which premiered in January 2006, went on to spawn two sequels, a tour and a next-generation TV series, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, which debuted on Disney+ in November 2019.
During an April 2019 appearance on the “Always Chatter” podcast, Hudgens echoed the Baywatch star’s sentiment about their easy rapport. “We created a bond right from the start,” she recalled. “We were like, ‘We’re doing this, it’s us or nothing.’”
The duo’s onscreen dynamic carried into their real-life relationship and they quickly fell in love on set. By the time the movie premiered in 2006, the twosome had become teen royalty, with fans referring to them as “Zanessa.”
In June 2008, the Rent: Live star opened up to CosmoGirl about her secret to a great relationship.
“If you really love someone, you shouldn’t have to work at it. You finish each others’ sentences and have the same sense of humor,” she shared. During the sit-down, Hudgens and Efron were “oblivious to the dozen of us in the room, according to the article, and they shared a smooch and the Princess Switch star “rubbed [Zac’s] stomach.”
Later that year, Hudgens revealed during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that the Greatest Showman actor was a “good kisser.”
The pair continued their romance through all three film in the HSM franchise. In July 2010, Hudgens reflected on her immediate connection with the 17 Again star and shared how the two had changed together over the years.
“He was adorable. I mean, he wasn’t the guy that he is today. Like, he had a gap in his teeth,” she recalled to Glamour in 2010 about her initial audition with Efron. “[He’s] just grown-up. He doesn’t have his gap anymore. I look at him, and I see a man. I think that we inspire each other. [I love] having someone to grow with.”
While they called it quits just a few months later, both actors have looked back on their relationship fondly since their split.
“I could not have been more grateful to have that relationship at the time … It was this massive phenomenon and [all] eyes were on me,” Hudgens said during her April 2019 appearance on the “Always Chatter” podcast. “And it’s just a really weird foreign thing to go through, and by being in a relationship, it kind of kept me stabilized and grounded, and I had someone to lean on who was going through it as well.”
Efron, for his part, has rarely shared details about his time with Hudgens, but told The Hollywood Reporter in October 2014 that the Grease actress was “a really interesting, sweet person” during their five-year romance.
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