Parkland director Peter Landesman has revealed he thinks Zac Efron is proving himself to be much more than just a teen pin-up.
The 26-year-old star - who rose to fame in Disney's High School Musical franchise - stars as the young surgeon charged with trying to save US President John F Kennedy after he was shot in Dallas in 1963.
Peter said: "That's why I cast him - the character is a young 26-year-old rookie doctor who is in over his head. So Zac is a young actor growing into becoming a great thespian.
"I hired him because he's a great actor. I saw Lee Daniels' movie The Paperboy before I cast him, and The Paperboy is a terrific, dark, messy movie, in a good sense, and Zac's performance is really... I remember watching it thinking, 'This kid's going to be one of our great actors!' That was easy."
And Peter believes Zac has moved on from his days as a heartthrob, and is now a respected, serious actor.
He said: "Every role he's done in the last two years has been a serious film. Not big rich films, he's not making a lot of money off these movies.
"He's made a very concerted effort and a very specific decision to have a different kind of re-entry from those Disney movies, to be taken seriously as a dramatic actor and I think he's succeeding."
::Parkland is released in cinemas on November 22, 2013.