updated 04/17/2012 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 04/17/2012 AT 9:45 AM ET
Zac Efron sang and danced his way through High School Musical and lent his voice to The Lorax earlier this year – but the heartthrob is entering new territory with his latest film role, thanks to his steamy love scenes with costar Taylor Schilling in The Lucky One.
“From his past films, [director Scott Hicks] is incredible with capturing the love in those scenes. Everyone builds those scenes up,” Efron, 24, told PEOPLE at Monday’s Hollywood premiere of The Lucky One, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel.
“There is sort of a fear inherent in everyone else so me and Taylor weren’t afraid at all.”
Also helpful: the fact that the two costars bonded quickly on the set, according to Schilling.
“I was very nervous. I met Zac in hair and makeup and we just hit it off immediately,” said Schilling, 27, who admits she had never seen High School Musical prior to her screen test with Efron.
“It was just very easy and that sort of click is something you can’t describe but you just really hope for, because then it just makes the process really easy. I feel lucky to count him as a friend.”