Neighbors and High School Musical star plays the father of girl with supernatural powers in updated adaptation of King's novel.

Want to see actor Zac Efron's face light up? Ask him about Stephen King, whose 1980 novel Firestarter inspired Efron's new movie of the same name.

"Stephen King is a hero of mine — I think that he creates fascinating worlds," says the actor.

Firestarter (2022)
| Credit: Ken Woroner/Universal Pictures

In Firestarter, Efron plays Andy McGee whose daughter, Charlie, portrayed by American Horror Story's Ryan Kiera Armstrong, has the power to start fires, not with a book of matches, but with her mind.

"I play the dad, and Ryan plays my daughter Charlie, and then my wife is played by Sydney Lemmon," says Efron. "We are working with our daughter as she is developing these supernatural pyrokinetic abilities. She's got these emotional triggers that cause her to set things on fire, and it's a superpower that's sort of not really developed, and we don't know whether to keep her from using it or to encourage her to learn how to use it. There's a government agency that's after her to use her in nefarious ways, turn her into a weapon of some sort."

"They believe that I could even create a nuclear weapon and help with military defense or things like that," adds Armstrong.

| Credit: Ken Woroner/Universal Pictures

This second big-screen adaptation of King's novel, after 1984's Drew Barrymore-starring version, was directed by Keith Thomas (The Vigil) who was determined to set things on fire for real whenever possible during the shoot.

"After the first two weeks, the fires would get progressively larger, things would get blown up, or the fire would get closer — or on you at some point," says Efron.

"Yeah, whatever set we were working on, it was always going to be burned down by the end of the day," adds Armstrong.

When EW spoke with Firestarter producer Jason Blum earlier this year, he revealed that King had given the new Firestarter his blessing.

"I showed him the movie and he was happy with it," said Blum. "He was very generous with his response and his comments, and I was very happy about that."

That must have put a smile on Efron's face.

"That's great — that means the world to me," says the actor. "I hadn't heard that yet. He did like the film? That's great. Alright. My day's made!"

Firestarter will be released in theaters and on Peacock May 13. Watch Efron and Armstrong talk about the film above.

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