Zac Efron opened up about his former costar and friend, Matthew Perry, and revealed whether he’d want to play him in a biopic after learning that the late Friends star said he wanted Zac to take on the role in a movie about his life.
“I’m honored to hear he was thinking of me to play him,” Zac, 36, told People at the premiere of his upcoming film, The Iron Claw on Wednesday, November 8. “We’ll see. I’d be honored to do it.”
Matthew died at the age of 54 on October 28. He was found dead after reportedly drowning in his hot tub. Initial reports from TMZ confirmed that the late actor had no traces of meth or fentanyl in his system according to the autopsy results, but the official cause of death has been deferred.
Zac and Matthew costarred in the 2009 movie, 17 Again, where Zac played the younger version of Matthew’s character, Mike O’Donnell. The Baywatch star spoke fondly of Matthew while reflecting on their time working together.
“He was a mentor to me, and we made a really cool film together,” Zac said. “I looked up to him, I learned comedic timing from that guy. I mean, when we were filming 17 Again, it was so surreal for me to look across and have him be there, because I’ve learned so much from him, from his whole life.”
Lester Cohen / Getty Images
Zac reacted to Matthew’s request after the Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip star’s friend, Athenna Crosby, revealed details about his wishes in an interview with Entertainment Tonight on November 1.
“He said that he wanted to make a movie about his life,” Athenna, who was seen having lunch with Matthew one day before his death, said. “And he had worked with Zac Efron in the past on a movie, and he said that he wanted Zac Efron to play him as a younger version [of himself] and that he was gonna ask him soon to do that.”
It’s no surprise that The Whole 9 Yards star tapped Zac to play him in a biopic. In a 2009 interview, Matthew praised Zac’s ability to nail down Matthew’s mannerisms during the film. “I think he did a really great job doing that,” Matthew told The Hollywood Reporter at the time. “He would call me sometimes and ask me how to say certain things, and I would tell him in the phone, and it showed up in the movie.”
In the same 2009 interview, Zac also had nothing but great things to say. “There were lines in the movie that were really Matthew’s lines, and I was just saying them,” he explained. “We really figured those out and highlighted them. I can’t remember the specifics, but we definitely worked together on figuring out how to split this character.”
At his film premiere, the High School Musical star also reflected on Matthew’s death. “Of course, I’m devastated for his loss,” Zac said.
Matthew was laid to rest during a private funeral held by his family at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Hollywood Hills on November 3.