Zac Efron has played serial killer Ted Bundy onscreen, but is he related to him in any way?
Zac Efron is not related to Ted Bundy in real life. He plays Bundy in the Netflix biopic Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile. Since Zac started his acting career as a teen heartthrob, it has been surprising for fans to see him play a serial killer. He does an impeccable job playing Bundy, but the movie itself has received mixed reviews.
Read on to learn more!
Zac Used to be a Disney Icon
Even though Zac Efron started acting as at a very young age, his career took off only after he started working with Disney Channel – being the star of the High School Musical franchise almost immediately made him a bona fide teen heartthrob; a fact acknowledged by critics and fans alike. The former compared him to Cary Grant, who – when he was younger – was also known for his charm, and the latter –such as Rolling Stone magazine – called him “the new American heart-throb” when he was only 22!
Zac has always felt grateful for the opportunity that High School Musical offered him, but he has also since found it difficult to get rid of the ghost of Troy Bolton; he feels people still see him as the starry-eyed high schooler rather than an adult actor who works hard at different roles. Once when speaking to Men’s Fitness about his teenage self, Zac said, “I step back and look at myself and I still want to kick that guy’s ass sometimes. Like, f**k that guy. He’s done some kind of cool things with some cool people, he did that one thing [Neighbours] that was funny, but I mean he’s still just that f**king kid from High School Musical.”
Zac has since tried to play more mature roles, which includes his portrayal of Ted Bundy.
Zac Plays Ted Bundy on Netflix
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile is a biopic and a crime film that came out in 2019. It is about the life of notorious serial killer Ted Bundy but is told from the perspective of Elizabeth Kendall, Bundy’s former girlfriend – the movie bases on her memoir called The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy. Big names went into making this film; it is directed by Joe Berlinger and stars, other than Zac Efron, Lily Collins, Kaya Scodelario, and John Malkovich. The film premiered first at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2019, and was then released on Netflix on May 3, 2019.
Despite the mixed reviews that the film received from critics, Zac’s performance was almost unanimously praised. Speaking about the role, he has said, “I was very hesitant to do it, but I knew I could. I just didn’t want to jump at something that could be seen as a desperate shot at trying to change my image. It was a unique experience and not what anyone expects. It makes me proud.”
Zac’s Performance and the Biopic Divided Audiences
The problem with the film is somewhat similar to the problem with Bundy himself; he was so charming that he became somewhat of an icon during his televised trials for the murders of multiple women. It was, thus, a subject that required much thought and delicacy when being portrayed onscreen, and the filmmakers tried their best to give it just that. Joe Berlinger tries to adjust te portrayal of the story to the #MeToo era; Liz Kendall is given the lead voice as a living victim, and the movie does not depict or focus on scenes about violence against women. The movie ends with a list of the names of Bundy’s victims, and footage from his actual trial. “I wanted to make this film for the victims,” Zac Efron told The Guardian.
Despite all this, critics haven’t been all been kind. The Atlantic points out, “The film clearly doesn’t intend to sympathize with Bundy, yet in making him the star, it can’t avoid doing so to an extent. It’s hard to know if there will ever be an essential and definitive fiction film about Bundy. But this certainly isn’t it.” Responding to such criticism, Joe Berlinger said, “If you actually watch the movie, the last thing we’re doing is glorifying him. He gets his due at the end, but we’re portraying the experience of how one becomes a victim to that kind of psychopathic seduction.”