Zac Efron has praised late actor Matthew Perry for motivating him to reach the next stage of his career after starring together on 17 Again, during a speech at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The High School Musical star, 36, was honoured in the category of motion pictures on Monday, with The Iron Claw director Sean Durkin and co-star Jeremy Allen White giving a speech at the event, alongside Top Gun: Maverick actor Miles Teller.
Before unveiling his star, Efron described the honour as “so surreal” and “just insane” to be part of the Hollywood tradition.
“I really also want to mention someone that is not here today, and that’s Matthew Perry, who was so kind and generous with me when we worked on 17 Again,” he said.
“Collaborating with him…it was so much fun and it really did propel me and motivate me in so many ways. It really pushed me into the next chapter of my career, for that, thank you so much Matthew.
“Thinking about you a lot today.”
Efron, who played Troy Bolton in the High School Musical films, also said he is “eternally grateful” to the director Kenny Ortega, who was sat in the audience.
“I still think about it everyday, I still sing the songs in the shower. Go Wildcats,” he said.
Teller, who starred opposite Efron in That Awkward Moment in 2014, described the actor as a “triple threat” with a combination of “immense talent, incredible work ethic and an above average face”.
“There isn’t a type of film Zac that you haven’t starred in and excelled in,” the 36-year-old said.
“He’s sung and danced and held his own opposite Hugh Jackman, which if you’ve seen Oklahoma! or (The) Boy From Oz, that is really impressive.
“Working with Matthew Perry, Matthew Perry has since said that he was so impressed with your comedic abilities working with him that he said if there was ever to be a biopic on him, he would want you to play him.
“And I know how much that meant to you. He’s one of the all-time greats.”
Efron became a household name starring in Emmy Award-winning Disney Channel film High School Musical in 2006, reprising his role in two sequel films.
Since then, he has had a varied career from starring as notorious serial killer Ted Bundy in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile, to playing Zendaya’s on-screen love interest in hit musical film The Greatest Showman.
Other notable credits include 17 Again alongside Perry, Baywatch opposite Dwayne Johnson, Neighbours 2 with Seth Rogen and 2007 hit musical Hairspray with a host of famous faces including John Travolta.
During his speech, Efron thanked his “first fans” – his family.
“I know there’s been a lot of sacrifices that you guys have made for me over my life and it couldn’t have been easy, but thanks for believing in me and you’re the reason I’m here today.
“So it’s very special. To have you guys both here means everything in the world to me.”
Efron will next be seen playing Kevin Von Erich – who was sat in the audience – in The Iron Claw opposite White, which tells the true story of the Von Erich brothers who made history in the wrestling world.
The US actor described it as “one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of my whole career so far”.
Co-star White said what he admires most about Efron is how he supports his cast and crew – “he champions us, he wants us at our best all the time”, he said.
The Bear star continued: “To me, I think he’s selfless, and he’s ego-less, it’s as if Zac Efron doesn’t know he is in fact a movie star.
“So we’re all here today to remind him and put a big star in the ground with his name on it so Zac will never forget.”
While The Iron Claw director Durkin said he had been wanting to work with Efron for “over a decade”.
“When I was setting out to cast the role of Kevin in The Iron Claw, I needed to find someone who was willing to undergo the physical transformation and embrace the rigorous commitment to life as a wrestler,” the filmmaker said.
“But more importantly, I needed him to be kind, sweet, (a) good man. To have those qualities in one actor is very hard to find, but I knew within minutes of meeting Zac, that he was it.
“…Zac, your kindness is what sets you apart my friend. Working with you over the last couple of years, it’s just been an absolute pleasure.”
Meanwhile, next year Efron will star in romantic comedy A Family Affair opposite Nicole Kidman and Joey King, as well as reuniting with Peter Farrelly for the fantasy comedy film, Ricky Stanicky.
It comes after he starred opposite Academy Award winning Russell Crowe in The Greatest Beer Run Ever, directed by Farrelly, who Efron said: “I love him to death.”
In 2020, Efron produced and hosted hit Netflix series Down To Earth With Zac Efron which saw him explore sustainable ways to live, which was award the Daytime Emmy Award for outstanding daytime programme host.