‘High School Musical’ star Lucas Grabeel won’t stand for fans thinking Sharpay isn’t the movie’s villain: ‘If anyone’s a victim, it’s Ryan’

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Lucas Grabeel and Ashley Tisdale in ‘High School Musical.’ Disney Channel
  • “High School Musical” star Lucas Grabeel (Ryan Evans) spoke to Insider for the hit movie’s 15th anniversary.
  • Fans of the film have debated about whether or not Sharpay Evans was the victim or the villain of “HSM,” and Grabeel weighed in.
  • Grabeel described Sharpay as “fame-hungry” with a desire to be “the centre of attention” and said that “if anyone’s a victim, it’s Ryan.”
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

High School Musical” fans have long debated about whether or not Sharpay Evans (played by Ashley Tisdale) was the villain of the 2006 movie and star Lucas Grabeel, who portrayed sibling Ryan Evans, has some thoughts.

“I don’t think she’s a victim at all,” Grabeel told Insider in a new interview for the hit film’s 15th anniversary.

“Look at the reasons,” he continued. “You can say that she’s a victim by saying, ‘Oh, poor her because she didn’t get this or she didn’t get that.’ But why is she going for it in the first place? She’s conniving in undermining Gabriela. She’s usurping her at every corner.”

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Ashley Tisdale and Vanessa Hudgens in ‘High School Musical.’ Disney Channel

Devoted fans have felt more empathy for Sharpay, the resident “ice princess” of East High School, and seen her in a different light after rewatching the “HSM” movies as adults.

Many have argued that despite her functioning as the antagonist in the first film, Sharpay was less of a villain and more of a victim.

Some have said that Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens), who had no previous theatre experience but always managed to come out on top, were actually the villains in the story.

Compelling arguments have been made in viral tweets and slideshow presentations, and Tisdale herself weighed in on Twitter, saying: “Sharpay was chasing her dream, Troy and Gabriella were chasing each other.”

But Grabeel argued that Sharpay’s actions — planting the seeds for Gabriella to join the Scholastic Decathalon team, adjusting the times for the school’s biggest events to prevent Troy and Gabriella from making the callbacks — were done out of a desire to be “the centre of attention.”

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Ashley Tisdale and Zac Efron in ‘High School Musical.’ Disney Channel

Sharpay’s scheming continued in the 2007 sequel, as she got Troy a summer job at her family’s resort and roped him into activities with her parents (“That girl’s got more moves than an octopus in a wrestling match,” Monique Coleman‘s Taylor McKessie aptly put it).

Sharpay also offered to give Troy an edge in getting a college scholarship in exchange for him singing with her. Plus, Troy’s change in his attitude and the way he treated his friends drove a wedge between him and Gabriella, causing her to leave Lava Springs.

Grabeel suggested that despite Sharpay coming between Troy and Gabriella’s relationship, he doesn’t think she had “any true feelings” for the jock.

“It’s only because Troy is the centre of attention that she wants to be alongside him,” Grabeel said, adding, “It’s just the hunger for attention and fame.”

“That’s another great lesson that the movie teaches you, is that if you are just fame-hungry, you’re not going to get anywhere and you’re going to end up with egg on your face, and in this case, chilli fries.”

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Alyson Reed, Ashley Tisdale, and Lucas Grabeel in ‘High School Musical.’ Disney Channel

Grabeel also said that fans should look at the way his character is treated in the films.

“I think if anyone’s a victim, it’s Ryan,” the actor said. “He gets just s— on the whole time and doesn’t even get his moment. He gets like a half a moment in the second and the third movies, but really, it’s like the whole time he’s in the background.”

For what it’s worth, Ryan’s story ended on a happy note in “HSM 3,” as he landed the Julliard School scholarship because of his outstanding choreography for the spring musical.

Lucas Grabeel as Ryan Evans and Ashley Tisdale as Sharpay Evans in
Lucas Grabeel and Ashley Tisdale in ‘High School Musical.’ Disney Channel

“He’s one of my favourite characters I’ve ever played because we had three movies to create this complex backstory and yeah, you could watch it and not catch any of that,” Grabeel continued, adding that he spent days working on the nuances of Ryan “and the sadness of being in the background.”

“But also, it’s OK,” he continued. “Sometimes the good guy who is the workhorse, he’s not always in the limelight, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not still relevant.”

Grabeel also said that his opinion aside, he welcomes the debates from fans about the characterization of Sharpay.

“If we’re doing something that’s causing a conversation, our job is done,” he said. “That’s incredible. So, more power to all these people trying to figure out what ‘Twinkle Towne’ was about or if Sharpay was a villain or a victim.”