With the massive success of the Disney Channel original movie High School Musical, which was directed by Kenny Ortega and released in 2006, the off-screen relationship between co-stars Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron became one of the highest-profile celebrity romances in all of Hollywood.
The High School Musical franchise propelled the careers of nearly everyone involved. Zac Efron went on to become an A-list movie star, Vanessa Hudgens embarked on a very successful Broadway career, and Kenny Ortega was chosen by Michael Jackson to direct what would become his posthumous documentary, 2009’s This Is It. The idea of bringing musical properties to TV, started by High School Musical, also spun a wide variety of other projects, such as 2009’s Glee, 2012’s Smash, and a resurgence of live TV musicals that has yielded The Sound of Music Live!, Peter Pan Live!, The Wiz Live!, and Grease: Live – which featured Vanessa Hudgens in the role of Betty Rizzo.
In High School Musical, Vanessa Hudgens played Gabriella Montez, a new student to East High School who excels on the scholastic decathlon team. Zac Efron was cast in the lead male role, Troy Bolton, the captain of the school’s varsity basketball team. As Gabriella and Troy find themselves auditioning to be part of the musical that their high school is preparing for, they also find love, on and off-screen.
These are 20 Secrets Behind Vanessa Hudgens And Zac Efron’s Relationship.
20 THEY MET WHILE AUDITIONING
It may sound too good to be true, but the truth is that Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens actually met for the first time ever in 2005, while auditioning for High School Musical. According to Zac, he was dropped off by his mother at the audition and, as he walked in, he found that there were at least 40 other male actors auditioning for the role of Troy Bolton. In the audition room, Zac and all of the other boys were asked to dance, sing, and run through lines. As director Kenny Ortega decided that they weren’t right for the role, he tapped each actor on the shoulder as a signal that they should leave.
Thankfully, Zac Efron was never tapped on the shoulder and proceeded to be paired up with an actress to do line readings… and it just so happens that the actress he was paired up with was Vanessa Hudgens. While this sounds too good to be true and some fans have wondered whether this story was constructed in order to give off the appearance that Zac and Vanessa’s pairing was “destiny,” there is video footage of both of them auditioning for the first time together, leaving no doubt that this is how the lovebirds actually met.
19 THEY DON’T REMEMBER A BIG MOMENT
It’s a given that, when you date someone special for a very long time, you definitely remember your first date and your first kiss, right? Well, not Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron, apparently!
When a reporter pointed out to Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens that they never kissed on-screen during the first High School Musical, Zac said that he had never realized that the movie didn’t contain a kiss, whereas Vanessa said that there was a kiss, but only on her cheek. Director Kenny Ortega, who was present during that particular press conference, added that the two teen actors were very forgetful because a kiss had indeed happened during that shoot.
According to Kenny Ortega, he went to Vanessa’s mom, then to Zac’s mom, and asked permission to shoot a kiss between the two actors for the original High School Musical. However, upon editing the film, the director decided that the kiss was not worth including. But the kiss did happen and it was captured on camera. “You seemed to enjoy it though,” Kenny said to Zac during that interview, despite the actor seemingly failing to remember that it ever happened. Maybe it was that kiss that made Zac and Vanessa realize that they liked one another?
18 THEY DATED FOR 5 YEARS
After meeting in 2005 while auditioning for High School Musical, a movie that would only be released in 2006 on the Disney Channel, Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron proceed to start dating right away. It is important to note that this off-screen teen romance took place before 2008’s Twilight, when the relationship between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart became a matter of public scrutiny and over-arching doubt. With Zac and Vanessa, fans did not have much to say about their relationship and, while it was adorable to see two teenage co-stars dating, their relationship was never pushed to the spotlight the same way that the Twilight co-stars had to endure.
Vanessa and Zac’s relationship took place from 2005 to 2010, spanning five years and lasting all throughout the High School Musical trilogy.
The last film of the trilogy, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, was released in 2008, meaning that Zac and Vanessa still dated for two years after the franchise ended for them. While this timeline is considered precise according to several sources, it is hard to pinpoint exactly when the relationship ended in 2010. However, certain media vehicles have reported that the breakup took place in “late 2010.”
17 THEIR LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP WAS AN ISSUE
After Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron broke up, a crowd of fans and media vehicles proceeded to try to figure out exactly what had happened between the two of them. One of the excuses that Vanessa offered was an evident one: “Long-distance relationships are hard no matter what.”
Despite the fact that both Zac and Vanessa were from California and worked on the High School Musical trilogy together, they also worked on various other projects apart from one another, which prompted them to be separated several times, and for long periods of time, throughout their relationship. Vanessa embarked on a musical career under Disney’s tutelage right after the first High School Musical and also worked on separate projects such as 2009’s Bandslam and 2011’s Beastly – which was shot in 2010, while Zac and Vanessa were still together. Zac Efron, on the other hand, worked on several projects during his relationship with Vanessa, such as 2007’s Hairspray, 2008’s Me and Orson Welles, 2009’s 17 Again, and 2010’s Charlie St. Cloud.
It is no secret that the long-distance aspect of various Hollywood relationships has been the major cause of breakups among celebrities. In Vanessa and Zac’s case, it certainly seemed like being apart did not help them.
16 THEY CO-STARRED IN VERY FEW PROJECTS
Despite meeting during a High School Musical audition and going on to work in 2007’s High School Musical 2 and 2008’s High School Musical 3: Senior Year, it is curious that Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens did not work in too many other projects together. For instance, they were both featured in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody in 2006, but in completely different episodes.
Aside from the High School Musical trilogy, Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens only worked together on two other projects.
In 2007, Zac played a love interest role in Vanessa’s “Say Ok” music video. Then, in 2009, Vanessa and Zac were both featured in a Funny Or Die video called “Zac Efron’s Pool Party.” Shockingly, all Zac and Vanessa did together aside from High School Musical and dating were a music video and a 5-minute skit – featuring Lance Bass, for some reason – for the comedy online platform Funny Or Die.
Even when Disney decided to put on a tour, known as High School Musical: The Concert, featuring Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Corbin Bleu, Lucas Grabeel, and Monique Coleman, it turned out that Zac Efron was unavailable to travel around the country due to his prior commitment to shooting 2007’s Hairspray.
15 THEY SANG IN 8 DUETS TOGETHER
Identifying who did the singing for Troy Bolton’s part in the original High School Musical movie is a huge point of contention in the franchise. According to several reports, Zac did not perform some of Troy Bolton’s singing parts in the first movie and, instead, Drew Seeley was brought in to hit certain high notes that the character required during his musical numbers. For the High School Musical: The Concert tour, which Zac did not take part on, it was also Seeley that filled in for the role of Troy Bolton.
But assuming that Zac Efron did do some of the singing in the first High School Musical, one can conclude that Vanessa Hudgens and Zac recorded eight duets for the franchise. Those are “Start of Something New,” “What I’ve Been Looking For (Reprise),” “Breaking Free,” “You Are The Music In Me,” “Gotta Go My Own Way,” “Everyday,” “Can I Have This Dance?”, and “Right Here, Right Now.” Those eight songs span across the three High School Musical installments, and to not take into account bonus tracks that were not utilized for the films.
Despite the contention regarding Zac Efron’s singing in the first movie, one can be certain that it was him singing in High School Musical 2 and High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
14 THEY ARE BOTH FROM CALIFORNIA
California – and Los Angeles, more specifically – is known for being the place where several aspiring actors and actresses go to when pursuing a serious career in Hollywood. For instance, the Disney Channel is headquartered in Burbank, California, where most of its projects are cast and produced. Thus, High School Musical co-stars Ashley Tisdale (who was born in Monmouth County, New Jersey) and Corbin Bleu (born in Brooklyn, New York) had to move all the way to the west coast of the United States in order to start their careers.
For Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, however, the trip to Hollywood was significantly shorter, as they were both already from California.
Vanessa is from Salinas, CA and Zac is from San Luis Obispo, CA, which are cities located 127 miles – and about a 2-hour drive – apart from one other.
From San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles, it was only a 3-hour drive south for Zac Efron, which is pretty close. It is interesting to think that, due to the geographical proximity between Salinas and San Luis Obispo, maybe Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens could have met one another in some other way that did not involve High School Musical. Also, during the time they met, it was certainly convenient that they could visit each other’s families with such a short drive.
13 THEY ARE ONLY ONE YEAR APART
Aside from being both from California – and from cities that are very close to one another – both Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens are from the late 1980s. Zac was born in 1987, a year when Dirty Dancing premiered on the big screen and Into The Woods opened on Broadway. Vanessa was born a year later, in 1988, when the original Hairspray movie came out and Fame opened on Broadway. In 2007, two decades later, Vanessa’s boyfriend Zac Efron would star in the remake of Hairspray as Link Larkin.
In 2005, when Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens met, he was 17 (turning 18 in October) and she was 16 (turning 17 in December). Thus, by the time that High School Musical was released, both Zac and Vanessa had both already graduated high school and were playing characters that were well below their actual ages. As a matter of fact, when 2008’s High School Musical 3: Senior Year was released and the characters Troy and Gabriella finally graduated, Zac Efron was already 21, and Vanessa was about to turn 20.
Being only one year apart was probably another reason that brought Zac and Vanessa closer to each other, as most of their other High School Musical co-stars were slightly older during the time the original movie was shot.
12 THEIR COUPLE NAME WAS ZANESSA
One of the favorite pastimes of the Internet is coming up with couple names for celebrities who date. Among the most famous ones are Brangelina (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie), Robsten (Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart), Jelena (Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez), and Kimye (Kim Kardashian and Kanye West). There were also the ship names for relationships that did not last very long but managed to stay in our minds, such as Haylor (Harry Styles and Taylor Swift), Bennifer (Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez), and Vaughniston (Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston).
But one of the most iconic couple names of all time came from our very own Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, which were coupled up together as Zanessa. Even nearly a decade later after the couple broke up, High School Musical fans are still insistent on hoping for the return of Zanessa. In regards to the characters, Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez were coupled up as Troyella, and Chad and Taylor became Chaylor. Despite not being an actual thing that happened in the franchise, many fans also had hopes for Zeke – who was clearly in love with Sharpay – to one day get a chance at dating his true love, yielding the Zepay couple name.
11 THEY WERE REPORTEDLY ENGAGED
In 2009, a couple of reports came out alleging that Zac Efron had proposed to Vanessa Hudgens while traveling together in Japan, surfacing engagement rumors for the couple. According to a particular report from Digital Spy, Zac had felt compelled to propose to Vanessa because of her mother, who had allegedly been putting pressure on them to get married.
According to a source that spoke to Digital Spy at the time, Vanessa’s mother “is old-school and doesn't approve of Vanessa living with Zac without some type of wedding promise.”
When those engagement rumors surfaced, Zac and Vanessa had just released High School Musical 3: Senior Year – the first and only movie of the franchise that was released on the big screen rather than on the Disney Channel – a few months before. Additionally, Zac had just reportedly bought a $1 million home in Los Angeles, and thus had plans to live there with Vanessa.
Despite the various reports, the engagement between Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens was never truly confirmed. In hindsight, many fans believe that Zac never actually proposed to Vanessa, and that those rumors were false. Then again, neither of them ever spoke on the matter, so there is no way to truly know what happened.
10 ZAC KNEW THEY WERE NOT GOING TO LAST
One of the most telling moments that the relationship between Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens was about to end came as the actor was interviewed by ABC’s Nightline to promote the movie he was working on at the time, Charlie St. Cloud. During that segment, Zac was described as a teen star that was beginning to outgrow his early years and who also was beginning to display his “acting chops” in a more serious way.
Zac Efron told Nightline that was trying to move past his High School Musical years and stay close to his family, who kept him grounded. Then, about Vanessa Hudgens, the actor said, “We’ve got a great thing going. It’s serving me right now, we’re having a lot of fun. So, it’s not over yet, you know? I’m not going to speak too far down the road, because I don’t know what’s going to happen. But right now, I’m very happy.”
The decision to not speak “too far down the road” was Zac Efron’s first and most significant hint that his relationship to Vanessa Hudgens was close to coming to an end. That same year, 2010, Zac and Vanessa broke up.
9 VANESSA WAS VERY JEALOUS OF ZAC
In 2015, five years after breaking up with Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens opened up to the New York Times about certain facts regarding their relationship. While promoting her new project, a Broadway remake of Gigi, Vanessa reminisced about her relationship with Zac and told the Times the following: “I went through a phase when I was really mean because I was so fed up. Girls were running after him, and I was giving them death stares. Then I realized that’s not what that’s about. ‘Spread the love, be a good person, they support you, be nice.’”
High School Musical turned Zac Efron into a breakout star among tweens around the world, prompting girls to fall in love with him and boys to imitate his looks. The Zac Efron phenomenon was so prevalent that even Justin Bieber’s famous haircut during the beginning of his career could be traced back to trying to look like Zac. Surely, it must have been difficult to be Zac Efron’s girlfriend during those years, and Vanessa Hudgens was understandably jealous. Additionally, Zac and Vanessa’s breakup in 2010 took place during the same year that the actor was featured – shirtless! – on his first-ever People Magazine cover, which became a significant turning point in his transition from teen heart-throb to A-lister.
8 WHY THEY BROKE UP
The reason why Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens broke up remains a mystery. Sure, Vanessa admitted to being jealous of the overwhelming attention that Zac received from fans, and long-distance was cited as a source of problems for the couple – just like any other relationship that involves two actors or musicians. However, the real reason why they split is still a point of contention that involves a couple of different sources and reports.
According to a source that spoke to Radar Online, it was a mutual decision for the couple to break up. “They have been together for so long. It just ran its course. They are still talking and still friends. There’s no drama. No one cheated. They just grew up,” the source said. According to E!, however, it seems like confirmation that Zac and Vanessa broke up came only after the actor was spotted hanging out with Twilight star Kellan Lutz in New Orleans, LA. However, the report from E! also seems to indicate that there was no cheating involved in the split.
Despite having spoken about the relationship in hindsight, neither Vanessa Hudgens nor Zac Efron have provided clear insight as to what exactly happened for them to break up and remain on bad terms.
7 THEY NO LONGER SPEAK TO ONE ANOTHER
The world fell in love with Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron as a pair and, even nearly a decade later, Vanessa still gets asked about the status of her relationship – even if it would now be a friendship – with Zac. However, because Vanessa and Zac have been so private about what actually happened during their relationship and after their breakup, it has been somewhat of a mystery to figure out where the two of them stand.
But then came the infamous Access Hollywood interview with Vanessa Hudgens in 2017, in which a huge revelation was made about her relationship to Zac. “You and Zac Efron, do you keep up?” Vanessa was asked. “Oh, wow. Yeah, no. That’s not a thing that happens,” she replied. “But you don’t talk to Zac much?” Access Hollywood pressed on, to which Vanessa said: “No, I completely lost contact with him.”
Up until that point, despite not having been seen together, there was no indication that Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens were in such bad terms. However, Vanessa’s answers and overall demeanor during the Access Hollywood interview left no doubt that there was certainly some animosity between the two, and that they no longer had any contact.
6 ZAC DID NOT ATTEND ASHLEY TISDALE’S WEDDING
When Ashley Tisdale married musician Christopher French in a secret wedding held in Santa Barbara, CA in 2014, most of her High School Musical co-stars attended the event. Vanessa Hudgens, for instance, was chosen to be a bridesmaid alongside actresses Shelley Buckner (Summerland) and Kimberly Hidalgo (To Save a Life). But guess which celebrity friend of Ashley’s was not present?
That’s right: Zac Efron chose to skip his good friend Ashley Tisdale’s wedding day, once again using “scheduling conflicts” as a reason.
To be fair, Zac sent his congratulations to Ashley via Twitter, and was indeed having a very busy year in 2014 between the releases of The Awkward Moment and Neighbors, as well as shooting We Are Your Friends. Still, one has to wonder whether Zac’s absence from Ashley Tisdale’s wedding had something to do with Vanessa, who was obviously going to be there for her BFF. Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens have done a swell job at avoiding one another at every turn and have not been spotted at the same public spaces at any given time.
Vanessa Hudgens and High School Musical co-star Monique Coleman also helped Ashley Tisdale celebrate her bachelorette party in Miami, FL a couple of months prior to the wedding.
5 ASHLEY TISDALE REMAINED FRIENDS WITH BOTH OF THEM
Despite the fact that Zac Efron missed out on her wedding and that Vanessa Hudgens is definitely a much closer friend to her, Ashley Tisdale seems to feel no ill-will against Zac. When speaking about their friendship, Ashley has said, “We would be exhausted from our press day and everybody was just like, ‘Oh, I'm going to get some food and hang out at the hotel.’ But Zac and I would be like, ‘Let’s got to the hotel gym and work out.’ It was just so funny of us, but those are really memorable to me because he’s just like my brother, so he was always awesome to hang out with.”
Ashley Tisdale undoubtedly cherishes her friendship with Zac Efron regardless of what happened between him and Vanessa Hudgens, who is Ashley’s BFF. One has to imagine that, at some point, Ashley and Vanessa had a conversation about Zac and it was decided that Ashley and Zac’s friendship did not have to be damaged due to Vanessa and Zac’s breakup. Even nearly a decade later, Ashley has kept in touch with Zac, despite the fact he and Vanessa are not even on speaking terms anymore. Maybe Ashley Tisdale can be the source of a possible reconciliation and friendship for Vanessa and Zac?
4 ZAC DID NOT ATTEND THE HSM REUNION
Speaking of things Zac Efron did not attend due to scheduling conflicts, in 2016, ten years after High School Musical premiered on the Disney Channel, the main lineup of actors was invited to come together and reminisce on their time together while shooting the film. The invitation was extended to Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, and Monique Coleman, and they all went… except for Zac Efron.
Fans of the franchise became extremely angry upon learning that Zac, of all people, would not be available to appear in the High School Musical reunion. Lots of angry tweets were sent in his direction, enough to prompt the actor to record a video message to justify his absence. Good Morning America, a morning show on ABC – which is a sister network to the Disney Channel –, aired the brief Zac Efron message, which said, “It’s only been ten years, let’s have a billion more. I love you, guys.”
During the High School Musical reunion, the co-stars spoke about their experiences while shooting the three movies and the impact that the franchise had in their personal lives and careers. Additionally, they took a second to watch scenes of the movie and auditions, telling funny stories about what really happened in each of those moments.
3 ZAC WAS VANESSA’S CELEBRITY CRUSH
Despite hardships such as long-distance, jealousy, and falling out of contact, Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron had a long and successful relationship of five years. While promoting her new show Powerless in 2017, a short-lived DC Comics sitcom that aired on NBC, Vanessa Hudgens admitted to the fact that, even though she dated the guy and broke up with him, Zac Efron was undoubtedly her celebrity crush during her teen years.
Two conclusions can be drawn from Vanessa Hudgens saying that Zac Efron was her teen crush. Firstly, Vanessa is now comfortable with the fact that, in hindsight, Zac was a very important figure in her life and she was madly in love with him despite how things ended between them. Secondly, being a celebrity herself, calling Zac Efron her “celebrity crush” makes it seem like Vanessa saw Zac as being on a different level of fame than her own. After all, the actor went on to become an A-lister who is often seen in summer blockbusters, while Vanessa stayed grounded in more independent movie projects as well as Broadway plays.
Still, it’s cute to see Vanessa Hudgens having a sense of what Zac Efron meant to her personal life in hindsight.
2 VANESSA WENT ON TO DATE AUSTIN BUTLER
After splitting up with Zac Efron in 2010, Vanessa Hudgens started to date actor Austin Butler in 2011. Austin has a connection to the High School Musical franchise for having been cast in the Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure spin-off. However, the actor is best known for his roles in 2011’s Switched At Birth, The Carrie Diaries, and The Shannara Chronicles. Born in 1991, Austin Butler is only three years younger than Vanessa, and shares her passion and talent for music.
In 2017, rumors surfaced online that Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler had become engaged. However, Vanessa took to Twitter to directly deny those rumors. Also, just like it had happened between she and Zac Efron, one of the challenges of Vanessa’s relationship with Austin has been the long-distance aspect of it, as both of them are actors. However, Vanessa has praised their relationship for being great at communication.
As Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler have now been together for 7 years, her relationship with the actor has already outlasted the one that she had with Zac Efron, despite the insistence of High School Musical fans to keeping “Zanessa” alive.
In the end, it’s good to know that Vanessa is happy, even if that means begin apart from Zac.
1 ZAC WENT ON TO DATE SEVERAL PEOPLE
Vanessa Hudgens may have moved on to Austin Butler, but that is not to say that Zac Efron hasn’t done the same. As a matter of fact, the actor has been on quite a few dates that became public knowledge throughout the years.
In 2013, Zac Efron was spotted taking a stroll at Disneyland alongside actress Lily Collins (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Mirror Mirror), whose hands he was romantically holding. However, that did not seem to last for too long. Then, in 2014, Zac Efron was spotted at an L.A. Lakers game sitting alongside – and gushing with – actress Halston Sage, who he met while shooting 2014’s Neighbors. However, only a few months later, several pictures surfaced of Zac sharing kisses with actress Michelle Rodriguez (known for Avatar and her recurring role in the Fast & Furious franchise) in the middle of the ocean. In 2015, Zac proceeded to date Sami Miró, a famous costume designer whom he dated until the spring of 2016.
It turns out that Zac Efron became quite the ladies’ man after dating Vanessa Hudgens for five years. And despite keeping a low profile since breaking up with Sami Miró, it is hard to imagine that Zac is not casually going on dates every now and then.
Which of these surprised you most? Let us know in the comments!