Zac Efron gets the beat in ‘We Are Your Friends’

Zac Efron stars as an up-and-coming DJ in "We Are Your Friends." (Warner Bros. Entertainment)
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Zac Efron is no mixmaster, but he does skillfully portray one in “We Are Your Friends.” Yet pretend virtuosity didn’t initially come easy to the “High School Musical,” “17 Again” and “Neighbors” actor.

“Staring at your basic Pioneer decks and being baffled by the lights and all the numbers — it just seemed incomprehensible to me,” he recalls. “I thought with a little time under my belt, I’d pick it up pretty quickly. It took longer than expected, but I think everything’s pretty authentic now. We turned the bass up when it comes up, we drop it out and fade right, so it’s good.”

Efron stars as aspiring DJ Cole Carter in the movie, which tracks his journey from valley boy to international DJ. Opening Friday, the coming-of-age film is directed and cowritten by MTV’s “Catfish” co-host Max Joseph, and costars “Blurred Lines” video vixen Emily Ratajkowski.

Joseph, best known for helping deceived individuals untangle webs of lies surrounding online relationships on “Catfish,” demanded a similar level of sincerity from Efron’s performance.

Button pushing had to match the desired effects and love scenes needed to appear natural. Joseph even pushed Efron and Ratajkowski into a private room to just stare at each other for long periods of time, to encourage bonding.

“Bottom line for me, was in that journey I was really about the emotional arc for Cole,” Efron says. “I was very into Cole’s spirit at that point. “

Having lived in the San Fernando Valley for four years himself, and having run with a similar crew, Efron identifies with Cole, especially with the fear the character feels when he first steps on the Summerfest stage.

“The true moment for me will always be the moment when I was most afraid in life, when there was that wall of fear,” he says. “For me, it was stepping on stage at my first audition. But once you break through that barrier of fear, you find something that’s real and magical.

“In this case, I did learn some cool moves from some pretty great people to make it feel authentic,” Efron adds. “But I’m still your mediocre-transition-song-maybe-add-an-effect-here-or-there DJ. So I’m going to stick with acting for right now.”

IF YOU GO

We Are Your Friends
Starring Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Wes Bentley
Directed by Max Joseph
Written by Max Joseph, Meaghan Oppenheimer
Rated R
Running time 1 hour, 36 minutes

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