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Zac Efron has moved on from his High School Musical days as he is set to play Ted Bundy one of the most notorious serial killers in American history responsible for multiple kidnappings, rape, burglary and necrophilia. Efron wasn’t sure if he could portray Ted Bundy in “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” a drama that premieres at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
“Initially, I had reservations about playing a serial killer,” Efron tells Variety in his first interview about the project. “I’ve seen people make horror films like this before, and it seems like an aggressive play to separate yourself from a perceived image. And it’s got a lot of killing and hacking and slashing. I think I’ve seen that before too many times.”
His latest movie is one of the most anticipated titles out of this year’s Sundance is a character study about Bundy’s double life as a serial killer. There’s almost no violence or gore depicted throughout the film.
Most of the story is told through the viewpoint of Bundy’s girlfriend, Liz Kloepfer (Lily Collins), who wants to believe that he’s innocent, regardless of the fact that police officers suspect he’s connected to the disappearance of multiple victims. Before he was executed in a Florida prison in 1989, Bundy confessed to murdering more than 30 women.
This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Bundy’s execution, and there’s been renewed interest in his crimes.
Efron had to undergo a dramatic physical transformation to play Bundy. He only ate plant-based foods to slim down. “I lost 13 pounds,” Efron says. “It was a rather large transformation and lifestyle change. The actor studied footage of Bundy at his trial. “Something clicked pretty early on, and it was kind of scary,” Efron says.
“It was that Ted and I had quite a bit in common in the way we carried ourselves. There are a few mannerisms. You can tell he’s a bit bashful. He’s kind of shy. He’s a well-spoken guy, but he hides his anxiety with a bit of a smile. I didn’t want to do too much of an impersonation.”
Efron knew that he had to walk a fine line with the film. “I feel a responsibility to make sure that this movie is not a celebration of Ted Bundy,” Efron says. “Or a glorification of him. But, definitely, a psychological study of who this person was. In that, there’s honesty.”
The film titled “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” premieres on Jan. 26.