It’s tough being a teen pin-up in Hollywood, what with the money-spinning romcom offers rolling in, the hoards of female admirers and generally being the envy of every man alive. Why then are Hollywood’s new breed of hunks turning their backs on the lucrative heartthrob roles and checking the box marked “serious actor” on their CVs? Ahlan! investigates...
From High School Musical to Hairspray, Zac Efron has been the go-to guy for all-singing, all-dancing teen crush roles since he came pirouetting onto the scene back in 2006. And thanks to his androgynous pretty-boy looks, and pearly-white smile, Zac has earned himself an army of overzealous female fans. “This 15-year-old gave me a bear hug from behind! I was sort of taken by surprise,” says the 21-year-old. “It was really pretty bad.”
Seeking a respite from the cheesy High School Musical franchise that launched him to super-stardom, Zac is now set to star in a much more grown-up drama, Me And Orson Welles.
“It’s completely different to what I’ve done before,” says Zac. “Gosh, I would say that’s the main reason I’m looking forward to it. It’s just a side I’ve never really shown before. I think there’s going to be a lot of colour in this movie. A lot of things you haven’t seen, hopefully. I’m definitely keeping my fingers crossed.”
Learning from Leo
“I think someone who’s made wise choices is Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s my definition of teen star, because when I was growing up his face was everywhere,” Zac gushes. “I think since then, he’s developed an incredible body of work. If there’s anyone I’d like to emulate, it’s him.”
He plays the stereotypical high-school hottie in Gossip Girl, but Chace Crawford is far from thrilled by the gossip that his role generates. “It’s ironic that on the show we’re stalked by a blogger, and now we’re the subject of that in real life,” he fumed recently. “There’s a lot of speculation with no reality, and fabrications about my private life.” And in another show of frustration, the actor has blasted an online teen dating site for using his picture without permission.
No more teen hunk
Despite the success Chace has had, he’s vowed never to play another teen hunk role, once Gossip Girl finishes.
“There’s a lot of adverse effects to being a certain type,” he reasoned. “I think the remedy is to reinvent yourself. I’m not going to take the same type of roles in the future.”
Once he ditches his Gossip Girl character Nate Archibald, Chace has his sights set on much more highbrow material. “I’d like to do an Arthur Miller or Chekhov play – I’m very keen to come to the West End,” he revealed.
Love for leo
Like any self-respecting teen hunk, Chace also looks to the godfather of teen hunk graduates, Leonardo DiCaprio – “I want to do the edgy independent movies like DiCaprio did,” he says.
The men who made the leap!
With gritty dramas like Blood Diamond and Body Of Lies on his resume, it’s hard to remember a time when Leo was just that teen hunk from Titanic. Not that he regrets leaving his pretty-boy days behind for his more recent character-driven roles.
“I was never happy with the teen idol tag at all – never wanted to be a sex symbol or all that stuff – it was the work that appealed to me,” he says.
Before he met his dark, brooding mentor, Tim Burton and became what industry boffins term a “character” actor, Johnny was a young, teen hunk in cop drama 21 Jump Street. But he admits that the teen hunk tag made him unhappy, saying, “It was an uncomfortable situation and I didn’t get a handle on it, and it wasn’t on my terms at all.”
Brad made a name for himself taking his top off in Thelma And Louise – before he got all beardy and deep on us. Though he only appeared in a couple of scenes in the movie, his appearance ensured millions of posters of him were plastered on teen walls and high-school lockers across the globe.