Zac Efron, best known for crowd pleasing fare like the surprisingly good 17 Again and Hairspray is branching out into grittier territory with the action comedy The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman. The film concerns a man who loses his mother, goes to Europe to find himself, falls for a girl, finds out the girl "belongs" to the head of a violent crime family, and must fight for not only her honor, but also their lives. Wow. That's a far cry from High School Musical, ain't it?

The film, scripted by Matt Drake, writer of the upcoming Todd Phillips/Joel Silver produced comedy Project X, is set up at Mandate Pictures.  With this project, and the start of his own production company (Ninjas Runnin' Wild), Efron seems to be entering a new phase of his career. A phase where his billions of screaming tween fans won't be old enough to be admitted to see his movies in the theaters without a guardian, but will find a way regardless. Love always finds a way. (The Playlist)