Last night, in the middle of the breaking news that is our American government shit show, news broke out of Cannes that Zac Efron will be playing Ted Bundy in the indie drama Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
Yes, that Zac Efron. Yes, that Ted Bundy.
The story will be told from the perspective of Bundy’s longtime girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer, who after denying all of the horrific crimes and violence committed by Bundy, would be the one to turn him into police. The film will focus on Bundy’s ability to hide his innate evil with normalcy and charm, and the terror Kloepfer goes through in discovering the truth. Extremely Wicked … was a 2012 Blacklist-winning entry and a Nicholl Fellowship first prize winner, and Jodie Foster was once attached to direct. Directing duties will now be taken over by the Oscar-nominated filmmaker Joe Berlinger.
I could go into a rant about how we’ve had enough damn Ted Bundy media, but I’ll focus on the intrigue of the casting decision here.
When the story broke last night, at first I was kind of confused about the casting choice — Zac Efron? High School Musical’s Zac Efron? In a gritty, disturbing indie drama? After several years of pretty terrible raunchy comedy choices, Efron appears to be taking steps back to the serious actor aspirations of his early, post-HSM career. He’s taking a page out of the Gosling/Gyllenhaal playbook, picking a dark indie feature to scrub clean the remainders of his child actor past. Basically, Zac Efron is ready to fuck up our lives.
We know exactly what he’s doing — Efron wants this to be his indie breakout into Serious Actor-dom, his Donnie Darko, his The Believer. Producer Nicolas Chartier in the press release even noted his excitement for Efron to show off the promise first seen in The Paperboy (the movie where he got peed on by Nicole Kidman, it’s on Netflix, you’re welcome). And to be honest, between Efron making the ballsy move to risk what’s remaining of his following, and the fact that it will be from the point of view of not Bundy but his girlfriend … holy shit, I’m kind of intrigued? Not completely sold but the interest is definitely piqued?
I don’t know if Zac Efron has the range necessary for this kind of role, but I want to find out. I hope Efron treats this subject matter with the seriousness it needs. Can he really tap into the dark and stay there? Will he surprise us all?
Extremely Wicked … begins filming in October.