Coming a long way! Zac Efron turned into a heartthrob after singing and dancing in the first High School Musical movie, but now, he’s all grown up.

“It’s hard to compare them to anything. Man, the first time you fall into a rhythm with something where you can just be yourself and you’re immersed with people you love … the cast was incredible,” the California native recalled when looking back on his HSM days in a May 2019 interview with BBC Radio 1. “We were just friends doing what we love and I believe that was what was my affirmation, that if it’s this much fun and people like it that much then we must be providing them some sort of service.”

While the actor has since gone on to star in other musical movies — including Hairspray and The Greatest Showman — Zac noted, “There will never be another experience like that for me.”

He concluded, “I’m happy I had it so young. I’m so blessed and I’m sending everybody from High School Musical and all the fans of High School Musical lots of love because they get it.”

Before his HSM days, Zac got his start in a guest-starring capacity on multiple well-known TV shows, like ER. Then, he went on to appear in the 2004 series Summerland. Then, he started to make a name for himself on Disney Channel. Following his stint in musical movies, the Neighbors actor nabbed some drama and comedy roles. It wasn’t until 2017 that he returned to musicals with The Greatest Showman

“I was nervous: Can I dance, still? Can I keep up with choreography? This was gonna be a level up from anything I’d ever done before,” Zac told The Los Angeles Times in December 2017. “People keep thinking I’m a dancer. I’m not a dancer! I do the same two-step with a little twist.”

Despite his long break from the musical world, Zac killed it alongside Zendaya — especially when it came to their duet “Rewrite the Stars.” Once the hype surrounding the fan-favorite film went away, the Disney alum starred in the 2019 Netflix film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. He later stayed on the streaming service in a new capacity, with a docuseries called Down to Earth with Zac Efron, which premiered in July 2020.

From teen heartthrob to travel show star, Zac has come a long way over the years. Click through our gallery to see his complete transformation.

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