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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“He just sat on the set and had this quiet dignity. Whenever Zac had a question about emotion or how a Marine would handle a situation, he was so helpful and so happy that we were showing what it was really like – what the experience is like for somebody who is quietly struggling internally.

Efron's character struggles to return to everyday life

Efron’s preparation to play a seasoned Marine also included the physical rigors of training several months prior to production with James Dever – a retired sergeant major and 25-year Marine Corps veteran. During filming, Devers and Efron rose every morning at 3:30 to keep Efron in physical shape for the role.

Efron also travelled to Camp Pendleton to talk to active Marines and hear them describe combat.

“It was like stepping into a different world,” he recalled. “They stood with a purpose. They had laser focus, never broke eye contact. This is my generation, on the front lines. They’ve experienced some pretty gruesome things. We sat and talked for several hours and they were the most amazing conversations I’ve ever had with anybody. In terms of research, it was priceless. I can’t thank them enough. The stories and personal feelings they shared became part of the canvas for Logan.”

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“The disconnect these veterans feel when they come home is so immense,” said screenwriter Will Fetters. “It takes a while to get back into the rhythm of life. Their once usual surroundings feel alien. Nothing will ever be the same.”

Efron as an intense ex-Marine who falls in love

“We took very seriously what these young guys go through,” said Di Novi. “Zac respected it, absorbed it, really internalized it, and I think you see that on film. He does a great job in honoring those guys’ experiences.”

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