Zac Efron is gearing up to both produce and star in the movie adaptation of writer John Grisham's hit legal thriller, The Associate. The former High School Musical star will be continuing his evolution from Disney Channel heartthrob to serious actor by taking on such a major movie responsibility.

Zac Efron
Zac Efron Is Set Both Both Star In And Produce 'The Associate.'

Though the project is reportedly yet to recruit a writer, Efron will produce via his Ninja's Runnin Wild banner ('That Awkward Moment'), and Divergent's Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher will produce through Red Wagon Entertainment with Michael Simkin and Nicki Cortese overseeing development, according to THR.

In The Associate, Efron will play Kyle McAvoy, a freshly-graduated, idealistic lawyer who intends to devote years to public service before he follows his ambitions in the legal world. That is, until he is blackmailed by a group of criminals. He is forced to take a job at the world's biggest law firm whilst spying on work regarding a high profile case between two powerful defence contractors.

Zac Efron Oscars 2014
Efron Will Play Law School Graduate Kyle McAvoy In The Tense Legal Thriller.

The novel is a classic, impossible-to-put-down Grisham; full of twists and turns and packed with knowledge on the ins and outs of law. "Kyle McAvoy is another of the two-dimensional yet terrifically likeable heroes," wrote the New York Times' Janet Maslin when the book was released in 2009, which could indicate that the role will be a wise career move for the 26 year-old Efron.

Shia LaBeouf was first attached to the project when Paramount bought the rights to the novel six years ago but the Transformers star has since left the project. Oscar-nominated director Adrian Lyne, whose previous films include Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal and Lolita, has been secured to direct Grisham's seventh novel to be adapted to film.

Zac Efron The Lucky One Premiere
So Continues Zac's Transformation Into A Serious Actor & Filmmaker.

Having executively produced recent teen comedy, That Awkward Moment, Efron will produce his first major picture in The Associate, which could be the first of many if he makes a success of his roles. Efron can next be seen starring alongside Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne in the frat comedy, Bad Neighbours, which will be released in May.

More: Zac Efron teamed up with Seth Rogen for a parody of Kanye West's 'Bound 2' - see it here.

More: Zac Efron breaks his jaw after "slipping on a puddle" - find out more.

Watch The 'Bad Neighbours' Trailer: