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By Molly McGonigle

As a former Disney prodigy with a pretty face to boot, Zac Efron is widely thought to be the next Leonardo DiCaprio. And it's not hard to see why on the cover of this weekend's PARADE Magazine, Zac Efron looks the part of the classic, American heartthrob. Efron talks to Parade about "Charlie St. Cloud," his boho girlfriend/former Disney sidekick Vanessa Hudgens and taking time to enjoy the simple things in life.

On his "Charlie St. Cloud" character:

"Every once in awhile, you read a script and you get that special feeling in your gut. I was touched by what the character, Charlie, goes through, and I thought it was a story worth sharing. And the fact that I have a little brother myself gave it a lot of resonance."

On his role in "Me and Orson Welles" and the star studded cast:

"It was pretty intimidating at first. So I really had to convince myself that I had the right to be there. But that's where the rush is. You say, 'Can I really do this? Can I pull it off?' The fun part of acting is testing your limits in every way, constantly throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. But since you never know how it's gonna wind up, it's a lot like gambling."

RELATED: See exclusive photos from our photo shoot with Zac

On spending time with his brother:

"[I] kicked off the summer by taking my little brother, Dylan, on a graduation trip to Hawaii. He's going off to college next year, and I've been working very hard, so we haven't been able to see each other as much as we would have liked to in the past few years. We hiked through the inner jungle in Maui, and you come across these really beautiful spots. We found this hidden place where there was an enormous waterfall and cliff jump. It was about a thirty-five foot drop."

On neat freak girlfriend, Vanessa Hudgens:

"I'm not neat by nature, but I'm kind of figuring it out -- and Vanessa helps out a lot. Right now, we're doing great and just having a lot of fun together."

RELATED: From Disney Kid to Hollywood Heartthrob

On whether he thinks his dad is a spy:

"I'm not exactly sure what he's in charge of. He's kind of top secret about it; he could in fact be a spy and be lying to me about the whole thing."

On his inner-student:

"I start to think, 'Am I missing out on something?' I'm not in school at the moment, so I tend to overcompensate by trying to learn as much as I can about everything else, and by tackling life full-on. I'm just soaking up everything I can. I'd like to see the whole world."