Lucas Grabeel is most famously known for his role as Ryan Evans in the Disney Channel hit franchise, High School Musical. But, after almost 10 years since he's roamed the halls of East High, Lucas is about to hit the high notes as a character on the Netflix series, Spirit Riding Free. The second season airs on Netflix TODAY and J-14 talked exclusively with Lucas about his animated character, Julian, how animation is different than being on set and the High School Musical 4 trailer that fooled everyone into thinking the OG cast would be back for another round.
Lucas plays the character, Julian, who comes to stay with his cousin, Lucky, for a month while he is in between boarding schools. "He’s just this kind of scheming sort of guy that always has something up his sleeve, always trying to con all of the kids into giving him money or giving him something, always causing trouble and trying to make a fast buck," Lucas told us about his character.
While it's always nice to relate to a character, Lucas and Julian only have one thing in common – their looks! He said, "Well, I’m happy to say that I’m not that kind of character, I don’t try to cheat people out of anything but you know, when I saw the character and when I saw the character and when I’ve seen the finished product, a couple of bits of the episodes, he and I look very similar."
Okay, come on, this IS Lucas' doppelganger! So, what is it like doing animation rather than being on set?
"[You] don't have to memorize lines, no hair, no make up," Lucas said. It's a different art form, to say the least, however, he hopes that he continues to do animation forever. We couldn't help but wonder if this was all self-taught or doing voice overs was something Lucas learned from someone else in the biz. Apparently, it was a bit of both. He said his co-star on Sheriff Callie's Wild West helped him a lot. But, there are some things you just can never be prepared for when it comes to animation!
Lucas revealed that he was asked to make the noise of a smile and to be honest, we were stunned by it. Do we make noise when we smile? Totally not sure on that one, but Julian in Spirit Riding Free does! It's all of this that Lucas finds quite exhilarating. Of course, the one thing about Spirit Riding Free is that he wasn't on a set like High School Musical so the connections he made with that cast were different than the connections he's made with his co-stars in the animated series.
Obviously, HSM was a huge part of Lucas' life and we couldn't help but prod at those days a bit. Does he still keep in touch with the cast? Of course! We all remember the cover he and Ashley Tisdale just sang together, he still talks to Vanessa Hudgens and Corbin Bleu is one of his besties. He said he hasn't seen Zac Efron in months but that's probably because he's "off being a big movie star." LOL! Lucas said when you think about it, it's crazy the amount of time the HSM family has known each other.
"I look at Corbin and I'm like 'You're a man now.' I knew him since he was 16 years old! He has a wife, he just bought his second home," Lucas said. Clearly, you can take the guys out of East High, but you can't take East High out of the guys!
The editors here at J-14 couldn't chat with Lucas without asking about the rocky relationship he had with Ashley at the beginning of filming the franchise. While now they consider each other family, he said during the audition process, "I went in to read with her [Ashley] and she gave me notes. I was like 'No, this is my audition.' I think we just got off on the wrong foot." He said that sometimes he would actually have to remind her to put her Sharpay persona away when the cameras stopped rolling. LOVE. IT.
As for that fan-made High School Musical 4 trailer that made its way around the Internet and tricking everyone into believing it was real, Lucas has seen it. "Yeah, I saw it. Kenny Ortega tweeted it and I watched it. It's great," he said. Aww! Would he be down for a reunion? "Yeah, of course. If Disney calls, my door is always open. We work well together." Literally, cutest thing ever. But, there is a new era of High School Musical stars that are about to hit the airwaves and Lucas said they should just prepare themselves because you never know what to expect.
Spirit Riding Free premieres TODAY on Netflix. Make sure to watch the EXCLUSIVE clip below and get ready to hop on that saddle because it's going to be one wild ride!