It tasted great. It’s actually really good,” Zac Efron said, tapping the table in front of us to stress his point.
The Hollywood actor was talking about his first balut experience. “I had seen it on TV a few times and I’ve always been an adventurous eater. I’m not very picky, I’ll try anything once but the idea of it was a little weird.”
He overcame his apprehension and ended up enjoying his first balut, little duck and all. In fact, he enjoyed it so much that he had three—for breakfast.
It was hours before the Penshoppe Fan Conference (see related story). We were sitting inside the Wine Cellar Room of LiLi Restaurant at the Hyatt Hotel Manila for a roundtable interview with Efron, who was fresh from his vacation in Misibis Bay in Legazpi, Albay.
During the interview, he was relaxed and in good spirits, showing no signs of jet lag. A journalist asked him to describe the real Zac and he joked, “I’m not sure. I can go ask him. He’s somewhere, he’s in the bar, I think.”
Efron was in the country for the Fan Con. Penshoppe signed him earlier this year, succeeding in becoming the first clothing brand he’s ever endorsed.
Penshoppe brand director Alex Mendoza said, “Zac Efron perfectly embodies the Penshoppe person. He is energetic, stylish, fun, talented and an achiever, someone you can proudly introduce to your friends and family! He’s also a bona fide A-lister, which is a great reason for him to lead our stellar campaign.”
As Penshoppe’s newest endorser, Efron joins the other big names in the clothing brand’s All Stars campaign— “Gossip Girl’s” Ed Westwick and Leighton Meester, “The Vampire Diaries’” Ian Somerhalder and Thai model and actor Mario Maurer.
Efron said, “It’s super fun. They’re an amazing group and it’s great. It’s a very exciting time for Penshoppe.”
He thinks Penshoppe’s clothes are “really cool.” “They’re very laid-back, there’s a sort of a beachy vibe to them. There’s also a cool, kind of retro vibe with the varsity jackets, a little bit of a throwback to the ’70s.”
He added, “Everything that I’m wearing here is Penshoppe. Since I’ve been to the Philippines, I’ve been wearing Penshoppe the whole time… They’re very relaxed and fun.”
And he loves the brand for another reason. “They gave me a huge gift; they let me come to the Philippines.”
Zac Efron shot to fame as Troy Bolton, one of the lead stars of “High School Musical,” a role that changed his life. “I was probably the most lucky to get ‘High School Musical’ because that could have been a thousand other people who got that role.”
Since then, the 24-year-old has successfully transitioned to more adult roles like Logan Thibault in “The Lucky One.”
“I’ve grown up. I’ve matured in a lot of ways but I still stick to my core values and my beliefs that I’ve had since the beginning, which is to be a good person first, work hard second and have fun third, in that order. That’s sort of my motto.”
Although fame has its challenges, Efron said he appreciates it. “I would never be able to see the Philippines or explore the culture in the way that I have or even come here if it wasn’t for that fame. I remain grateful for it.”
When asked how he wants to be remembered, he said, “Just that I was a good guy to be around.”
Why did you say yes to Penshoppe?
I had never really looked at any sort of endorsement deals in the past. When I started talking to Penshoppe, it was a pretty unique opportunity. And one of the things I really enjoyed about it was that they were Filipino and they offered me the chance to come to the Philippines and get to know the culture. I love Asian culture, I’ve always wanted to learn more, specifically about the Philippines. It worked out on all ends. I think I came here for Penshoppe but the trip took on a whole different side, which was sort of unexpected, and that was that I really got to immerse myself in the culture, try the different foods, ATV up Mayon Volcano. It was very fun.
You had your shoot for Penshoppe in LA; how was it?
The shoot was awesome. My good friend Darren Tieste shot it and he’s just very fun to be around. He’s worked with Penshoppe for a long time. He was one of the reasons I was so excited to do it too, he’s a fantastic photographer.
Which of the pieces was your favorite?
My favorite was this one jacket, the varsity jacket. It was really neat. It was just nicely made. I like the style. I like that the sleeves were a different material than the rest of the jacket. It was cool, it was kinda funky, kinda retro.
Is it true that Simon Cowell offered you a record deal and you said no because you wanted to focus on acting?
Sort of. I think he inquired as to whether I’d be interested in doing music, and I was pretty honest with him. I was very flattered, but I felt that would fight my main focus, which was to be an actor.
But is music something you see yourself returning to in the future?
Maybe. Music will always be a part of my life and my career to a certain extent and in a certain way. I would love, for instance, to do more Broadway, I’d love to do a musical on Broadway, I would love to do a musical movie.
Any particular musicals you want to work on?
I don’t know, they’re probably not written yet. I would love to do something like “Jersey Boys.”
People got to know you first in “High School Musical.” Was it hard for you to transition to adult roles? Was that something you worried about?
I wasn’t really worried about it. I’ve never really been afraid of failing because I always made sure I picked roles that helped me evolve as an actor. There has to be a sense of progression. But I would never want to compromise. I am more afraid to compromise than I am of failing.
What’s the craziest thing a fan has done to get your attention?
Oh I can’t talk about it in the interview (laughs).
If you weren’t an actor, what would you be doing now?
I’d probably be doing music.