In Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile, actor Zac Efron, best known for his heartthrob looks and likable characters, plays serial killer Ted Bundy, whose charm and good looks obscured his true nature. That combination of outwardly attractive qualities in both actor and part could have the potential to make Ted Bundy something of a sympathetic character. Despite that, the film does not lionize Ted Bundy, according to star Zac Efron, who said:
I feel a responsibility to make sure that this movie is not a celebration of Ted Bundy. Or a glorification of him. But, definitely, a psychological study of who this person was. In that, there’s honesty.
Zac Efron was very cognizant of the potential this role had to be a celebration of Ted Bundy, and not only does he not believe that this is the case, he felt a duty to make sure that it wasn’t. To do that, he had to strike a careful balance to not glorify the serial killer or make him an aspirational figure, but still be convincing as an extremely likable guy who managed to pull the wool over people’s eyes, including those closest to him.
As Zac Efron told Variety, he sees the film as an honest psychological study of who Bundy was, not a celebration. That's because Bundy was a charming guy, the last person you would think would be capable of such heinous, unspeakable crimes. He was a true wolf in sheep’s clothing.
To prepare for the role, Zac Efron studied footage of Ted Bundy at his trial and talked to people who knew him and heard how shocked they were at the revelation of what he really was.
In addition to that, the film is told from the perspective of Ted Bundy’s longtime girlfriend, Liz Kloepfer, who wanted to believe him despite the evidence against him. Like so many others, he beguiled her and obscured his true nature. And despite murdering more than 30 women, Ted Bundy never killed her. That dichotomy and dissonance is what makes him fascinating and someone worth looking at honestly as Zac Efron said.
Zac Efron’s comments about Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile not being a celebration of Ted Bundy come as the film has faced some criticism for doing just that and for having a heartthrob like Zac Efron play such a villainous figure. In addition, a new Netflix series, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, also from director Joe Berlinger, has spawned a ‘Ted Bundy is hot’ sentiment on social media.
One of the survivors of Ted Bundy mostly seemed in agreement with Zac Efron’s belief that Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile does not glorify Ted Bundy. She said that the film was showing him as what he was and what people saw.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile does not yet have a release date, but we’ll keep you updated on when it gets one. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release schedule to see all of the other movies heading to theaters this year.