The actor was asked Tuesday at the Dallas premiere of The Iron Claw what he thought about the idea, which Perry reportedly pondered the day before he died in late October. Efron, who previously worked with Perry, had nothing but kind words to share.
“I heard that and it’s a huge honor,” Efron told ET on Wednesday (Nov. 08, 2023). “Matthew is just the best guy in the world and I had the best time of my life working with him. And to think that he was thinking of me for that role, I mean, I would be honored to do it, to be honest.”
Efron and Perry starred as younger and older versions of the same character in 17 Again (2009), a comedy-drama about a high school athlete who casts his dreams aside but gets a second chance.
Perry, who died at 54 of an apparent drowning in his hot tub, was a promising athlete himself. He started playing tennis at four and later became the No. 2 junior player in Ottawa, Canada, but later turned to acting, starring in Friends in 1994.
Perry also faced addiction throughout the years. Efron, who publicly struggled with alcoholism himself, has since become sober — and told People on Tuesday that Perry “was a mentor to me.”
Perry’s friend Athenna Crosby told ET the actor “wanted to make a movie about his life” and “wanted Zac Efron” in the lead “because he said he did such a good job” in 17 Again.
Efron received Kids’ Choice Awards nods for the film, and learned a lot from Perry.
“I looked up to him, I learned comedic timing from that guy,” Efron told People. “I mean, when we were filming 17 Again, it was so surreal for me to look across and have him be there, because I’ve learned so much from him, from his whole life.”