Zac Efron, star of the upcoming Baywatch reboot, has been cast to play Ted Bundy in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, a new film about the serial killer’s life. The story will be told from the perspective of Elizabeth Kloepfer, Ted Bundy’s longtime girlfriend who spent years fighting the allegations against Bundy, but later helped bring him down.
Extremely Wicked will be directed by documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory). Principal photography is set to begin this October, aiming for a release sometime in late-2018. The screenplay is by Michael Werwie, a Hollywood newcomer whose Ted Bundy script earned him Nicholl Fellowship prize and made the 2012 Black List — an annual list that names the best-unproduced scripts in the industry. In previous years, 500 Days of Summer and Juno were on the Black List and were produced after word of mouth spread. Both were critical and financial successes and kickstarted the careers of Marc Webb and Diablo Cody. THR first broke the news of Zac Efron’s casting as Bundy.
Ted Bundy has been the subject of dozens of films, documentaries and books. The most notable is Matthew Bright’s 2002 biopic Ted Bundy, which was an exploitational take on Bundy’s crimes. The A&E TV movie The Riverman from 2004 focused on former police detective Robert Keppel working with an incarcerated Bundy to catch the Green River killer. Keppel and Bundy’s relationship would go on to inform the creation of Thomas Harris’s Silence of the Lambs.
The casting of Zac Efron as a serial killer like Bundy is a surprising choice. Efron started his career as a Disney kid in the High School Musical series and has since devoted his career to comedies. However, before his arrest and conviction, Bundy was known as an average, ordinary and pleasant man. Those who knew him were surprised by the revelation of his crimes. Bundy himself was considered a handsome man — especially for a serial killer — so in that way, the casting of Efron isn’t that much of a surprise.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is to be one of Efron’s few dramas. Outside of the upcoming The Greatest Showman, his last serious film was 2012’s The Paperboy. Though the film was not well received by critics, it did offer an example of the kind of work Efron is capable of delivering outside the raunchy comedies he’s been known for as of late.