Drugs, rehab and friends who are "worried about him."
Those are the headlines springing up when one Googles Zac Efron these days. In the past year, the actor, who rose to fame as a teen heartthrob in Disney's High School Musical and has begun to snag adult roles in films like The Paperboy and Parkland, has watched his personal life begin to overshadow his ambitions.
"I went in," he says openly of a stint in rehab last year, and affirms he's clean now. "Today, I'm good."
Does he still drink? "No," says Efron, 26. "I like being completely sober."
As for those "friends" stealing headlines on his behalf, "maybe there are some people who are not my friends anymore, probably?" says Efron, who has shed party-going pals from his inner circle.
"That's my only way to extrapolate from that. Because my parents are stoked. All my roommates are stoked. The people I work with, the people I really care about are so much happier. And I feel so much better, so whoever my 'friends' are who are 'really worried,' I'm sorry."
Efron sends up his image up in the R-rated comedy Neighbors (out May 9) as Teddy, a boldly shirtless, hard-partying fraternity president who begins to terrorize the yuppie couple (Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne) trying to raise their baby next door. One might think it would be difficult to promote a film rooted in debauchery (Teddy hot-boxes an entire frat house in one epic bender), but Efron disagrees.
"If anything I was able to put it somewhere. It's fun to take it too far. In your work and — especially in your work. But it's just the way you grow up, I think," he says. "You learn."
Life after rehab included some major changes. Efron sold his modern house in the Hollywood Hills and moved to Los Feliz, where he lives with his 22-year-old brother, and privacy is an option.
"My other house was all windows," he says. "And we'd have problems with the gate … people would just walk up to the house … and bang on the glass. So I decided it was something I didn't want to have to worry about anymore."
He's also limiting temptation. "Coachella and stuff was going on before the press tour so we did 'NoChella,' " he says with a grin. "We just downloaded all the music on Spotify that was going to be at Coachella. My buddy and I got a Jeep, filled it with camping gear and just drove across the country on Route 66. And just blasted music on the speakers."
Sobriety, he adds, is "a day at a time. I'm in a good spot right now. I feel great."