It’s been two months since Zac Efron‘s famed “tussle” with a homeless man in the Skid Row section of Los Angeles, but he’s finally opening up with the details of that night — as well as confronting his addiction to drugs and alcohol — in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
Any fair weather fan would know that Efron’s life isn’t all pec workouts and dildo fights. As a former child star, he’s had to deal with some “humiliating” moments in a very public way (he spent some time last year in rehab for cocaine abuse). “I wouldn’t take anything back,” he says. “I needed to learn everything I did.”
Currently single, he speaks of “the struggles of dating, of falling in love, of searching for love and being there for your friends when they need you. There’s no question that to receive anything great, like love or respect, or to better yourself, you have to give a piece of yourself away.”
On his workout regimen:
He has the type of regimen that makes older men weep — working out daily, eating healthily and even drinking pH-balanced water from a specially installed alkaline faucet.
He gets ready for bed around 9 p.m., when he’ll watch a movie and read a script, turning in before some of his peers even rise because “I like to get up early and swim and train.”
He has joined Alcoholics Anonymous and also has been seeing a therapist. “I just started going,” he says. “And I think it’s changed my life. I’m much more comfortable in my own skin. Things are so much easier now.”
Still, he admits of his battle with addiction, “It’s a never-ending struggle.”
The interview, which FYI compares Efron’s “struggle” to that of Judy Garland and Lindsay Lohan, does a perfect job of painting him as a misunderstood child actor; one who’s learned a great deal from his work and has real potential to pivot his childhood acting stint into an adult career:
Insiders say Efron took a major pay cut to make the film in exchange for a heftier share of the back end (sources say he can get around $5 million a picture, but he often has cut his salary to do work that challenges him). Since then, he has received a surge of offers based on strong word of mouth about his performance but has opted not to shoot anything.
He is trying to shed an unwanted skin, cleanse himself mentally and physically, purge a past that has come to haunt him. A self-described insomniac, he acknowledges wrestling with anxiety (“100 percent”) and being plagued by “thoughts, just thoughts, just overthinking things.”
And finally, his version of events the night he broke his hand trying to “disarm” a homeless man with a knife. According to early accounts, he was stranded near Skid Row after his car “ran out of gas.”
“I had a friend come pick me up late at night — we were looking for a place downtown to get a bite and catch up,” he says, without identifying the friend. “We were having trouble finding somewhere — a lot of places were closed — and the car ran out of gas off the 110. It was ridiculous. We had to pull over, and I called Uber.”
While waiting, “A homeless guy, or vagrant, tapped on the driver’s-side window. Before I knew it, he [the friend] was out of the car, and they started fighting. I saw that [the homeless man] was carrying some sort of a knife, or shank, and I got out of the car to disarm him. At some point, he dropped the knife, and I got hit pretty hard in the face — and almost instantly the police were there to break up the fight.” After that, the two friends went home. Efron calls it “the most terrifying moment in my life.”
And, oh yeah — he’s still hot AF: