The actor is greeted by a screaming crowd at SXSW for premiere of Neighbors
Credit: Michael Buckner/Getty

Basking at the premiere of his new movie and smiling and waving at the screaming fans who shivered in the rain to catch a glimpse, Zac Efron was having a good night in Austin, Texas.

“I’ve been blessed to have the opportunities I’ve had,” Efron told the audience Saturday at the premiere of Neighbors, which hits theaters May 9, at SXSW. “It couldn’t have happened better. I’m stoked.”

Despite the icy rain and dropping temperatures, fans took pictures beside two huge party buses sporting Efron’s image from the movie and packed the red carpet to see Efron, Seth Rogen, Dave Franco and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

Efron, who told PEOPLE earlier this year that he was in a great place following a rehab stint last year, said he felt welcomed back in Austin.

At a Facebook live talk with the Neighbors cast, Efron said that director Richard Linklater introduced him to SXSW in Austin and that he’d “kind of fallen in love” with Austin.

He and costar Rogen shared the story of their first meeting, when a nervous, star-struck Efron approached Rogen at a party.

“I was so nervous,” Efron said. “He was sort of my God. It was at the Sunset Towers, I was 17 or 18, I idolized him at this point. I stopped him and told him, ‘Seth, I have to tell you I’m a huge fan.’ ”

“I thought you were too young to see my movies,” Rogen said. “Did your mom take you?”

As for the hard-partying character, Teddy, that Efron plays in the film, he said, “I knew this guy. He’s crazy. I was excited to play him.”

But Efron says he’s much different than Teddy. “My favorite beer is O’Doul’s,” he told crowds at the Subway Tumblr Neighbors meet-up Sunday that featured a Q & A with the cast.

“Zac was super funny,” said director Nick Stoller. “For the fraternity, we wanted everyone to have a comic energy that was different from one another but still meshed.”

After the movie, Efron promised the audience, “We will take it back to college tonight,” at the movie’s after party, at the Lustre Pearl bar, decked out with beer cans and pizza boxes to look like a frat house. Guests drank from open bars and dined on brisket and soy tacos from The Peached Tortilla, but Efron wasn’t spotted out in the crowd.

With reporting by BECKY RANDEL