He also starred alongside Nicole Kidman, Matthew Mc Conaughey, David Oyelowo, and John Cusack in The Paperboy (2012), which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2012 and received a wider release later that year.The film received mixed to negative reviews from critics.The film received almost unanimously negative reviews from critics, but became a major success at the box office.He also played a supporting role in the critically successful Liberal Arts (2012), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012 and received a limited release later that year.He was recommended to an agent in Los Angeles by his drama teacher, Robyn Metchik (the mother of actors Aaron Michael Metchik and Asher Metchik).and was then accepted into the University of Southern California, but has deferred his enrollment to work on film projects.Efron reprised his role of Troy Bolton in High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008), the first film in the High School Musical franchise to receive a theatrical release.The film became a major blockbuster at the box office, and received mixed to positive reviews from critics.
Efron was next seen playing the role of Link Larkin in the musical comedy film Hairspray (2007), based on the 2002 Broadway musical of the same name.
He also appeared in some films, including the Lifetime television film Miracle Run (2004), for which he earned a Young Artist Award nomination for his performance as one of two autistic twins.
Efron’s career reached a turning point with the teen musical television film High School Musical (2006), which premiered on the Disney Channel in January 2006.
He began acting professionally in the early 2000s, and rose to prominence in the late 2000s for his leading role in the High School Musical franchise (2006–2008).
During this time, he also starred in the musical film Hairspray (2007) and the comedy film 17 Again (2009).