Whether you accept it or not, Zac Efron continues to grow up, slowly morphing from teen idol to straight-up ladies’ man: Vulture hears that he is in negotiations to play a former Marine in Warner Bros.’ forthcoming adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’s novel The Lucky One. This would be the seventh Sparks novel to make it to the big screen (just eight more to go!); Efron would play the titular “One,” who returns from three tours in Iraq to (where else?) North Carolina. There he searches for a mysterious woman in a random snapshot he found — a snapshot he believes was his good-luck charm throughout the second Gulf War. The Lucky One is being produced by Sparks’s own lucky charm, Denise DiNovi, who’d previously brought the author’s Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, and Nights in Rodanthe to the big screen.
We also hear that separately — but in a similar effort to reach a broader, older, audience — Efron recently attached himself to Die in a Gun Fight, a hot new script from recent NYU grads and first-time screenwriters Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari. In the Tarantino-esque blend of Gossip Girl, True Romance, and Romeo and Juliet, Efron would play Ben, an underachieving, deadbeat son of a famous New York high-society attorney who gets himself in over his head when he falls for the daughter of his father’s nemesis — a girl who is already busy being stalked by an obsessive French professor. Die is set up with producer Mark Gordon (Saving Private Ryan, Speed) but has yet to find a studio, though we hear it’s headed out to directors and financiers shortly.