If Zac Efron has his way, in a few years the last thing you'll associate with his name is "High School Musical."  The 22-year-old California native is hard at work trying to change his image from a teen idol best known for singing and dancing in "HSM" and "Hairspray" to a more versatile actor who can do adult-skewing comedies such as the hit "17 Again" and the indie drama "Me and Orson Welles."  Now, he's starring in his first true romantic, leading man role as the title character in "Charlie St. Cloud."

Based on a popular 2004 novel by Ben Sherwood, "Cloud" centers on a young man in the Pacific Northwest who puts his academic and competitive sailing career on old when his brother dies in a freak car accident.  The small town he lives in things Charlie's gone a big bonkers taking a job as the caretaker of the local cemetery, but what they don't realize is that Charlie is spending his evenings reuniting with the spirit of his brother to play catch.  Youngster Charlie Tahan plays the brother, who it turns out is stuck in limbo, not wanting to go to heaven yet (although its never revealed to be such).  Life begins to tempt Charlie, however, with the return of former High School classmate Tess (Amanda Crew).  Will true love allow him to find peace with the death of his brother?

HitFix spoke to both Efron and Tahan about their numerous scenes playing catch together (Efron - good, Tahan - not so much) and the rigors and difficulties of open sailing.  Moreover, Efron elaborated on the recent announcement of his new production company, Ninjas Runnin' Wild.  It's not the first name you'd guess for someone with Efron's pedigree and he sounded just a tad embarrassed that it might not have given off the impression he was initially hoping for.  Especially considering the diverse type of projects he wants to develop. As we discussed off camera though, it should at least have a cool logo.

You can watch the interview embedded at the top of this story.

"Charlie St. Cloud"
opens nationwide on July 30.