You can measure the fanaticism behind a celebrity couple by the strength of their couple name. And while nothing will ever measure up to Brangelina or Kimye and Jelena, Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens had a good thing going from 2006 to 2010 when fans dubbed them Zanessa. The Disney Channel power couple rose to fame co-starring in the High School Musical franchise, and their romance quickly made its way off the screen and into the real world. If you're still not over their breakup after five years together, join me in taking a walk down memory lane, exploring all that was Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens' relationship.
Before stepping into their iconic roles of Gabriella Montez and Troy Bolton, Hudgens and Efron didn't know each other at all. But their on-screen chemistry was undeniable, and Disney producers recognized it right away. High School Musical was officially released in January 2006. That same year, Efron and Hudgens started attending red carpets together, not just as co-stars, but also as a couple.
Despite their fairytale coupling, things ultimately took a sour turn for Zanessa. When looking at their history, there's a lot to unpack.
A Brief History of Zac Efron & Vanessa Hudgens' Relationship
Efron and Hudgens met in 2016 during their audition for High School Musical. Long after the film became a sensation, Disney shared the footage of their audition and fans had a field day over their apparent instant chemistry.
Efron remembers the exact moment he met Hudgens. "My mom dropped me off out of a minivan somewhere in North Hollywood," he said in a 2014 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "I had no idea what to expect." After being paired with Hudgens for their audition, it didn't take long for their relationship to catch fire. By late 2006, the two were very open about their romance, attending events together and getting cuddly.
They attended all the HSM red carpets as a couple from 2006 to 2008 and continued walking carpets arm-in-arm even after the series ended.
Efron rarely spoke to the media about his romance with Hudgens, but in July 2007, he told People about their instant chemistry, explaining that Disney producers saw there was something special between them from day one. “I was like, ‘They’re not trying us with other people,’" he said. "For some reason, we kept sticking around [for callbacks]. I don’t know what it was with Vanessa, but we kind of clicked from the very beginning.”
The two went on to exchange tidbits of information about their relationship in the media for the next several years. “The weird thing that no one expected about Vanessa is that underneath such a sweet girl… is a very sexy woman," he said in a 2007 interview with Rolling Stone.
Hudgens gushed about her man while chatting with Ryan Seacrest later that year, admitting she didn't mind the fan hysteria that surrounded her beau after the release of his shirtless Rolling Stone cover. “I think it looks hot,” she told Seacrest. “The girls like it... I mean, I like to scream along, too.”
The couple showed face at various awards shows and carpets throughout 2009, and in 2010, Hudgens assured fans they were rock solid. “Right off the bat, we had a connection," she told Glamour in June 2010. "I think everybody could see it. I guess [we have a mature relationship]. I think that we inspire each other. [I love] having someone to grow with.”
The couple's remarks made it seem like things between them were all rainbows and butterflies, but by winter, their romance had grown cold. They called it quits in December 2010 after five years together.
Why Did Zac Efron & Vanessa Hudgens Break Up?
Both stars were silent directly following the breakup, but Hudgens finally dropped a hint as to why they called it quits in March 2011, explaining they'd simply spent too much time apart. "Long-distance relationships are hard no matter what," she told Shape. "When you don't have face-to-face time, it's just different. Having an iPhone helped, but it just wasn't the same."
Still, she had nothing bad to say about her ex. "We grew up together," she said fondly. "It was nice to have someone to share all of those experiences with."
What Zac Efron & Vanessa Hudgens Said About Each Other After Their Split
Hudgens and Efron never got back together (despite one reported brief makeout session in January 2011), but there didn't seem to be any bad blood between them. In fact, they spoke warmly of each other in interviews in the years following the split. In a March 2011 interview with Details, Hudgens touched upon their amicable relationship, even hinting there was a chance they would get back together. "We're still friends," she said. "Who knows what the future will bring? We're figuring things out."
In the aforementioned interview with Shape, Hudgens shared a similar sentiment, looking back on her relationship with a positive perspective. "It was a good thing," she said. "The relationship kept me grounded, and because I was with someone who knew me so well, I didn't need to try to be someone I'm not."
Hudgens gave her most in-depth interview about dating Efron in April 2019. "It started off really organically," she said on The Hollywood Reporter‘s Awards Chatter podcast. "I could not have been more grateful to have that relationship at the time."
Hudgens said the relationship kept her "stable" through the chaos of High School Musical's success. "It was this massive phenomenon, and [all] eyes were on me. And it's just a really weird, foreign thing to go through and by being in a relationship, it kind of kept me stabilized and grounded and I had someone to lean on who was going through it as well."
Despite Hudgens' kind words, she and Efron have left fans guessing as to what the catalyst for their breakup was. With Efron being especially quiet about their split, it's safe to say some things went down behind the scenes that fans never heard about.
Where Do Zac Efron & Vanessa Hudgens Stand Now?
These days, Efron and Hudgens aren't on speaking terms.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in April 2014, Efron revealed he and Hudgens are no longer in touch, but that she's "a really interesting, sweet person." Hudgens confirmed this again in March 2017 when asked whether she kept in touch with her ex. “I completely lost contact with him," she told Access Hollywood.
But that doesn't mean there's any drama between Zanessa. To this day, both actors have spoken highly of each other in interviews.
Despite keeping things amicable, it appears they don't feel the need to be in the same room together, or even the same chat room. When the High School Musical cast reunited over Zoom in April 2020, Efron was nowhere to be found. Perhaps he was simply busy that day or preoccupied with his new life in Australia. All that's for sure is Zanessa's heyday is clearly a thing of the past.
In Elite Daily’s It’s Complicated series, we dissect the biggest celebrity drama to find out what happened in front of the camera, behind the scenes, and everywhere in between. Read more here.