Released last weekend, the Nicholas Sparks adaption of The Lucky One has drawn crowds of swooning fans all looking to see actor Zac Efron flesh out U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault on the big screen. Grossing an estimated $22 million, the movie centers on the survivor of three tours in Iraq, who travels to find his good luck charm named Beth (played by Taylor Schilling), a woman he has never met before.
Speaking about his role, Efron, who worked under the direction of Scott Hicks, says he was both confident and doubtful about taking on the role. “Initially I wasn’t convinced I could pull this off, 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.”
Efron’s bouts of hesitation could be due in part to the difficult training he underwent to play Logan. Waking at 3:30 a.m., buzzing his hair, and dieting to add 20 pounds, The High School Musical star worked with military consultant James Dever, a retired Sergeant Major with twenty-five years in the U.S. Marine Corps under his belt. Part of his training also included a field trip to Camp Pendleton where he spent time talking to Marines to see combat through their eyes.
“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.”
Meeting true heroes and training with Sergeant Dever also helped Efron on set. “The gear is 100-plus pounds with the helmet. That along with wielding a machine gun was harder to handle than it looks. We spent weeks doing military drills and weapon practice. One day I was shooting a romantic scene in a row boat on a pond with Taylor, the next day I was holding a machine gun and in full camouflage.”
Watch a clip of Zac Efron in The Lucky One below with Taylor Schilling and Blythe Danner.