Zac Efron Was Picked To Play Ted Bundy For One Specific Reason

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The director of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile has revealed the specific reason which led to the casting of Zac Efron in the lead role of convicted serial killer Ted Bundy.

Bundy allegedly butchered 30 women between 1974 and 1978. The total tally of his victims is considered by some experts to be higher, but we’ll never know for sure because he was executed in the electric chair in 1989.

In the ideal world, we wouldn’t make Hollywood movies based on serial killers, but such movies have often proven successful. So when the director of the forthcoming Ted Bundy biopic, Joe Berlinger, was planning to make a movie based on arguably the most charming and good-looking killer of all, he needed a hunk with a lot of pulling power to do the portrayal of Bundy some justice.

That convinced Berlinger to go with Zac Efron. The former High School Musical actor was apparently always Berlinger’s first choice to play Bundy, because as the director explained to TMZ, not only is he a “fantastic actor,” but because of the following.

“Bundy operated by deceiving his victims because he was good-looking and charming. So who better to portray and embody that very dynamic?”

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile, named after the judge’s pronouncement when sentencing Bundy in 1979, has already come under fire by Bundy survivor Kathy Kleiner Rubin, who was attacked by Bundy when she was 20-years-old.

Rubin believes the movie glorifies Bundy “more than he should be.”

“I don’t have a problem with people looking at it, as long as they understand that what they’re watching wasn’t a normal person. I believe that in order to show him exactly the way he was, it’s not really glorifying him, it’s showing him.”

Elsewhere film critics have been equally scathing about the new Bundy film. Writing in Vox, Alissa Wilkinson asked why exactly Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile exists in the first place. She pointed out that Berlinger is clearly fascinated with Bundy, but doesn’t provide any insights in the film other than how Bundy “got away with a lot because he was handsome and charming.”

Zac Efron in a red hat watching a race.
Featured image credit: Noel VasquezGetty Images for Nautica

Wilkinson slammed the film as “morally wrongheaded” and accused it of missing a golden opportunity to dig a little deeper and draw some intelligent conclusions about the larger cultural significance of Bundy’s story.

She pointed out that it could have examined and asked why young women are so fascinated with serial killers. In Bundy’s case, he received fan mail, nude photos, and even marriage proposals from the hordes of enthusiastic women who attended his trial.

Wilkinson argued the film could also have tackled the cultural glamorization of serial killers. She described what happens when a handsome actor like Efron plays someone like Bundy, as the camera tends to “[pull] in close to Efron’s face, lingering on his portrayal of Bundy when he’s most sympathetic and funny and kind, rather than dwelling on his truly brutal moments.”