November 28, 2011 12:00 PM

ca. 1989

Zac Efron, 24

“As a kid I was a people person-always wanting to play peek-a-boo or hang on someone’s arm,” says Efron, who was raised in San Luis Obispo, Calif. “But growing up was one giant awkward stage. I was a late bloomer. Around high school is when I just started to embrace the awkward, have fun and not worry about it.”

ca. 1987

Ewan McGregor, 40

“I worked very hard when I was a teenager to be able to afford to buy my car,” says the Scotland native. “I washed dishes in a hotel, became a waiter and ended up working the bar. I didn’t like school very much. I wanted to be an actor from the age of 9. So nothing has ever changed since then.”

ca. 1979

John Cho, 39

“My family moved to the United States from South Korea when I was 6 years old,” recalls the Harold & Kumar star. “I never thought I was going to be an actor. I drew a lot as a kid and would have been happy to be a comic book artist or something. Also, since I grew up in Houston, they have NASA there, so I wanted to be an astronaut too.”

ca. 1987

James Marsden, 38

“As a teen I wasn’t very outgoing or social,” says Marsden, an Oklahoma native. “I didn’t exactly have the best luck with girls, so I figured if I learned how to play guitar it would help me out in that area. ‘Back in Black’ by AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine’ were the first two songs I learned to play.”

ca. 1997

Armie Hammer, 25

“At that age I probably wore shoes once a month, if my mom made us go to church or something,” recalls Hammer, who grew up in the Cayman Islands. “I was a free spirit. I loved being outdoors, I loved playing, and I loved iguanas, apparently.”

ca. 1994

Liam Hemsworth, 21

“My uncles called me devil child,” recalls the Australian actor. “I’d throw tantrums all the time, and I’d go out in the forest with an air rifle and get into trouble. Now I’d tell my younger self to chill out and to not throw so many knives at my brother Chris.”

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