Zac Efron Talks Sobriety, Nudity and That Time He Rode a Shark for ’10 or 15 Seconds’ (Again)

Zac Efron is not only buff, but badass.

The Neighbors 2 star opened up to ELLE about his sobriety, which led to a conversation about “crossing the line of fear” which “leads to greatness.” That line for Efron was apparently coming face to face with a shark while in Hawaii, and staring it straight in the face. (He told this story during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon back in August, but at least it’s one of those stories that don’t get old).

He explains:

I was in Hawaii recently, and I went shark diving with some researchers. I came face to face with a shark. I could either turn and try to beat the shark to the boat, or I could look it in the eyes and let it know I’m present and I’m not afraid. It went right past me, and I put my hand out and I actually rode the shark for 10 or 15 seconds.

After that it came back and it swam under my legs and I just kind of touched it from the nose all the way to the tail. The researchers said that’s a sign of respect. It goes back to that Bruce Lee quote, “Be like water…If you pour water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot.”

Nothing like a little brush with death.

As for his sobriety, Efron told ELLE:

What I found is structure. That led me to a balance of opposites: You get out of life what you put in. There was a moment when my morning routine was, like, Get up and Google yourself. But that stopped, dramatically and instantly, probably three years ago. I realized that viewing yourself through other people’s pictures is not living your own life. I wasn’t really being myself. A lot of my hobbies had gone out the window. I couldn’t skateboard or surf for fear of being followed. Crossing the line of fear is what leads to greatness.

His new movie Neighbors 2 co-starring Seth Rogen (who produced and co-wrote the screenplay for it) comes out on Friday (May 20), and people are excited to see him reprise his role as the “Everybro,” as ELLE calls him.

On meeting Rogen for the first time, the 28-year-old commented:

I was at a party. I was maybe 20. At the time, even a teenager’s opinion of me was pretty low. I wouldn’t say I was a fan of my work, you know? [Laughs] I went up and shook Seth’s hand. I was like, “You probably don’t know who I am. Or you hate me.” And he’s like, “Oh man. You’re gonna end up being a nice guy, aren’t you?” He expected me to be the cockiest asshole in the world.

As for what it’ll take for him to go full-frontal nude, Zac joked, “Let’s just say I’m not opposed to anything. But if you’re gonna pull your dick out, it’d better be for an Academy Award-winning movie.”

Read more of his interview with ELLE here, and the entirety of Efron’s interview with ELLE in their June 2016 issue.