RB: You're known best for your role in movies like High School Musical. What was it like to switch to such a dramatic film?
ZE: It was incredibly fulfilling. I had questions and doubts about whether or not I could do it. Being able to really get to that place, it was so gratifying. I got to really dig deep. Nobody really wanted to see me in it, originally. On paper, the right thing to do was to not go to this place. So Charlie St. Cloud was one of the first times I put my foot down and really took the initiative to do what I want to do, go where I want to go and take control of my own destiny, rather than just doing the next best thing.
RB: So was it hard?
ZE: It was, yeah, but that's what I signed up for. Musicals come really easy. They're really fun. Believe me, I'd love to go back and do more—it's hard to even call it work—but this was really a challenge emotionally.
RB: You have a little brother yourself. How did that inform how you played Charlie and connected with the role?
ZE: I had a sense of what a genuine brotherly relationship is. I had something to back up the emotion, and so I was really able to picture how I would feel if I was responsible for an accident. I sort of went through the reel of all the great memories and places we've been together, things we've done together.
RB: Are you guys close?
ZE: Yeah, we're pretty close. We've gotten closer recently. Now that he's 18 it's like he's suddenly a real person.
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