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ZAC EFRON: "Lucky" To Play A War Hero

The former teen heartthrob is all grown up in the new film based on Nicholas Sparks' romance novel. Catch this drama with your girlfriends (or your guy) on April 19!

Zac Efron stars in Warner Bros.' new romantic drama The Lucky One as U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault, who is on his third tour of duty in Iraq. Almost immediately, he is thrust into a firefight that changes his life forever.

Logan returns home from his tour of duty, with the one thing he credits for keeping him alive--a photograph of a woman he doesn't even know that he found on the battlefield. Discovering her name is Beth (Taylor Schilling) and where she lives, he shows up at her door and ends up taking a job at her family-run local kennel. Despite her initial mistrust and the complications in her life, a romance develops between them, giving Logan hope that Beth could be much more than his good luck charm.

The role itself changed Zac, who literally had to transform himself physically and emotionally to look, move, and react like a Marine who had served in a war zone and seen far more violence and loss than his family or peers at home could ever imagine.

Director Scott Hicks explains, "When we first see Logan, 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 soldier. He created the slightly stony exterior of someone a little mysterious--a character we don't know a great deal about at first."

"Initially I wasn't convinced I could pull this off," Zac recalls, "but the more I thought about it, and the more I talked to Scott, I realized if there was ever going to be a chance to play a role so different from what I've played before, this was it. I knew I had to put in the work to be able to play Logan, and I felt capable in Scott's hands."

Zac's preparation to play a seasoned Marine included the physical rigors of training several months prior to production with military consultant James Dever, a retired Sergeant Major who spent 25 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, and rising at 3:30AM during filming to continue the regimen. That and a strict diet added 20 pounds of bulk to the actor. To complete the exterior metamorphosis, Zac buzzed his signature hair.

The internal work was equally, if not more, demanding. To get into his character's psyche, Zac travelled with the director to Camp Pendleton to talk to Marines and see combat through their eyes.

Zac recalls, "When I got there it was like stepping into a different world. 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."

Launch the gallery to see photos of Zac from the film!

Opening across the Philippines on Thursday, April 19, The Lucky One is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

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