Zac Efron has pulled out of the starring role in Paramount’s remake of the 1984 movie musical Footloose. Paramount issued the following statement, insisting that plans for the project are still full steam ahead, with or without Efron: “Footloose is a project we’ve longed to see re-booted for a new generation. While Zac is no longer attached, we remain excited and committed to the collective brain trust of Kenny Ortega, Neil Meron and Craig Zaden, who will reinvigorate the franchise. Their fresh take on the film will undoubtedly be filled with the same kind of breakout performances that we’ve come to expect from them.” However, there are rumblings that unless the filmmakers — which include Efron’s High School Musical director, Ortega — can come up with an equally magnetic and bankable song-and-dance dude, the project may be put on hold.

As for Efron, who spent more than a year and a half attached to the project, sources

say the High School Musical phenom had been advised to hold off on doing another

musical until he’d established more versatility in a variety of genres.

Basically, nobody wants to be pigeonholed that early in their career.

Efron has worked hard over the past year to take on projects that

showcase a broad range, beginning with a dramatic role as a wide-eyed

climber in Richard Linklater’s Me and Orson Welles (which debuted at

last year’s Toronto Film Festival but has yet to nail down

distribution) and the upcoming New Line comedy, Seventeen Again,


which he plays a 38-year-old guy in the body of a teenager. “I think

the hardest thing about being young and in the business is that a lot

of opportunities present themselves and there’s no road map,” Efron

told EW in an interview last fall. “A lot of people want to give you

their opinion, which can be based on their own personal gain. I’ve made

it my priority to follow my gut feeling. You know when something’s

cheesy and you know when something’s a sell out movie and you know when

a project feels right.”