Olympian Simone Biles meets crush Zac Efron in Rio, turns into a giddy teenage fan
“Just call me mrs. efron already.” So tweeted Simone Biles after she and the rest of the Final Five got to meet her crush, Zac Efron, on the “Today” show in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday.
The winner of four Olympic gold medals and one bronze revealed last week that she’s nuts about Efron, to the point where she has a life-size cutout of him in her bedroom. And there he was, backstage, live, to visit with them, when the ladies thought they were simply going to do another interview.
Instead of chatting, they went completely nuts.
The show hid the actor in a room backstage at the International Interview Center for hours, and then he and host Hoda Kotb watched Biles compete in the floor exercise and accept the gold medal.
"I totally have butterflies," Efron said before the 19-year-old started. Then he reacted throughout the routine: “Holy -- shnikeys.” “She gets so much air! What the heck is in her legs? And she looks happy!” “Oh my gosh, she just crushed it!” He got a little emotional when she was awarded her medal.
With Efron still hiding off camera, this time in what he called “a closet,” the team was brought into the room. “Do you remember,” Kotb asked Biles, “when we did the interview last time, you said that if a certain person showed up, you would need a defibrillator?”
“Stop,” the gymnast said in disbelief. “If you bring him out, I think I'm gonna pass out. Stop.”
Then Efron showed his face and the screaming started. Laurie Hernandez rushed in for the first hug, then Biles, then Aly Raisman, then Madison Kocian.
"I'm shaking I'm so [screeeeeeeeam!],” Biles squealed, popping out briefly from her hiding place behind Raisman.
"I don't know,” said Efron, 28. “I'm the one with butterflies. I was nervous too."
Selfies and kisses on cheeks ensued, and the 5-foot-8 actor lifted up the 4-foot-8 athlete and placed her on his hip.
Though other women might regret not walking up and saying hi to a cute guy, Biles had her own woulda-shoulda: "I didn't even do my signature [move], guys!"
But that didn’t matter to the “Neighbors” star. “When I found out you guys were fans,” he said, “I was like, 'What am I doing sitting here on the couch? I have to come see you, like, come hang out and support you guys. …. You guys are like America's heroes right now."
Heroes, yeah, sure, but, “He's even more gorgeous in person,” 16-year-old Hernandez gushed to the group.
Kotb cracked up as she noted an inconsistency from Biles. “You're super-calm when the whole eyes of the world are on you, when you're about to perform a routine,” she said, "and in this particular moment, you're totally dying.”
Efron explained to the “Today” team afterward that he’d started hearing from “I guess just everybody” that Biles was crushing on him.
“So I started watching all the gymnastics. I wouldn't typically start watching gymnastics first in the Olympics, but I was immediately captivated by these girls and what they were doing. … They have such heart, you know. And there was clearly something special that was going on. I was really excited.”
Follow Christie D’Zurilla on Twitter @theCDZ