At 21, High School Musical star Zac Efron's old enough to drink ... and, well, old enough to roll around in the mud for some grungy cheesecake photos for Interview magazine. The pics accompany a story by director Gus Van Sant for the magazine's March 24 issue, in which Van Sant appreciates Efron's "well-scrubbed young mannishness."

Efron's obviously working hard to transcend the teen-dream persona that's made him a star, and it looks like it's a shaky transition. The next HSM film will feature a whole new stable of Disney-fresh teen faces, and while Efron's too old for the tween set, he's still stuck acting younger than his age -- his next films will be 17 Again, an abominable sounding comedy in which he plays a magically rejuvenated Matthew Perry, and Me and Orson Welles, a period comedy from Richard Linklater about a teenager who's cast in a Mercury Theater production of Julius Caesar, circa 1937 (read our review here).

An excerpt from the Interview piece is available online, and it's notable for two things -- Mikael Janssen's hunky photos, reminiscent of Bruce Weber's 1980's Calvin Klein pin-up boys, and that Van Sant is, unsurprisingly, far more interesting than Efron.

VAN SANT: And so the play that they're putting on in the film is Julius Caesar?

EFRON: Yeah. Orson Welles was doing Julius Caesar, but he had a unique adaptation. I don't know if you're familiar with it, but Stalin was Julius Caesar in the Orson Welles adaptation, so it put a whole new practical spin on the play at the time, which was really neat.

(...)

VAN SANT: How old is Orson Welles in your movie?

EFRON: He's in his mid-twenties, but he's got the wisdom and the presence of a 50-year-old . . . Well, you know, a 30-year-old guy. [laughs]



VAN SANT: A friend of mine was Welles's chauffer.

EFRON: Oh, really?

VAN SANT: Yeah. Welles was in his sixties, and he was in L.A. This was in the '70s. My friend would drive him in some giant 1950s car that was painted turquoise. It was a convertible. The top was always down, and Welles would wear a huge 10-gallon hat and ride in the passenger seat, because I think he liked that people would see him and recognize him. There's still a movie of his that we haven't seen. I think it's called The Other Side of the Wind. I hear it has a bunch of people playing Welles. John Huston plays him at an older age. Peter Bogdanovich plays him at a younger age. It's his last unfinished film. I don't know where it is, but I haven't met anyone who has seen it.

You'll find the excerpt and pictures at Interviewmagazine.com. If you prefer a more animated Efron ... well, there's always this: