Can teen heart-throb Zac Efron convince us he's a battle-weary Marine?

He was dancing, singing TV teenybopper Link in "Hairspray," and popular basketball captain Troy in "High School Musical." Will anybody take him seriously as a veteran leatherneck in Nicholas Sparks' "The Lucky One"?

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Efron and Hicks shared how the young actor worked to transform himself physically and emotionally to look, move and react like a Marine who had served in a tense war zone and had seen far more violence and loss than his family or peers at home could ever imagine.

 “When we first see Logan,” explained Hicks, “we need to know what he’s gone through and understand some of the sense of trauma that he carries with him out of this conflict. I was very impressed by Zac’s commitment to not only change his physique, but also to get into the mindset of a Marine. He created the slightly stony exterior of someone a little mysterious – a character we don’t know a great deal about at first.”

Producer Denise Di Novi marveled at Efron’s transformation: “One of my favorite things about being a producer is watching actors reinvent themselves and that’s what Zac did. He just looks like a different

person in this film. How he walks, how he stands, how he holds himself. It was a thrill to see him become Logan.”

Efron in the opening scene

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Co-Producer Kevin McCormick concurred: “Even though he’d never done anything like it before, Zac was really able to bring a very specific and unique take on Logan. We literally saw somebody who’s been so youthful in every other movie legitimately turn into a man in front of our very eyes. That really helped make Nicholas Spark’s character come to life. Apart from looking like a Marine, Zac brought a reservoir of pain and strength in equal measure.”

So, how did he do it? Fortunately, they pulled in some Marines.

“We got lucky in New Orleans,” said Di Novi, “where I met a trainer at the gym I was going to who was an ex-Marine named Aaron. I invited him to the set and he and Zac just clicked immediately. He was the most amazing young man. Zac had done a lot of research before the movie started but it was almost like this guy was sent to us.

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