The Real Reason Zac Efron Makes a Perfect Ted Bundy In the New Netflix Movie

Depicting a serial killer in a film adaption can really mess with your mind. Actors employ different tactics to get into character, including physically and mentally staying in character even while off camera. For Zac Efron, who’s portraying Ted Bundy in the upcoming Netflix movie, that process is just creepy.

The new film is appropriately named Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, and it’s based on real-life murderer Ted Bundy. The notorious serial killer admitted to murdering at least 30 women and girls during the 1970s.

Following the massive success of the Netflix documentary Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, this film will tell even more of the horrible story of how Bundy did what he did.

Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy | Bettman/Getty Images

Zac Efron was a controversial choice to play Bundy

The film is already garnering criticism ahead of its May release date. A recently released trailer shows Efron looking incredibly sexy, buff, and shirtless, which critics say glamorizes the despicable acts of a serial killer.

But then again, one of the reasons Efron was picked to play Bundy was his undeniable attractiveness. It fits in with the story – the real Ted Bundy managed to fool so many women into trusting him because he was handsome and looked so “normal.” During his trial in 1979, The New York Times called him “Kennedyesque.”

Does the Ted Bundy Netflix movie glorify serial killers?

There’s a fine line between telling a story and glamorizing a tragedy. According to the director of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, Joe Berlinger, that wasn’t his intention at all. His response says it all: “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.”

One of the most important reactions came from one of Ted Bundy’s victims who survived. If anyone has a right to be outraged about the movie, it’s Kathy Kleiner Rubin. She was attacked in her Florida State University sorority house in 1978 but thankfully lived to tell the tale.

Rubin says having Efron depict Bundy as an attractive serial killer just makes sense. “I believe that in order to show him exactly the way he was, it’s not really glorifying him, but it’s showing him, and when they do say positive and wonderful things about him… that’s what they saw, that’s what Bundy wanted you to see,” she said. “The movie does glorify it more than I think it should be. But like I said, I think everyone should see it and understand him as what he was, even when he was the perfect son.”

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile trailer | via YouTube

Why should the story of Ted Bundy be told?

Rubin explains that the message of the film is to be cautious of everyone, even good-looking men, and to trust your instincts always.

“He had different tactics that he used for people to help him get in cars or do things,” she said. “In your gut, if you just feel that something doesn’t feel right, just say no.”

If the film achieves its goal, then women will learn to never trust a handsome man just because he’s handsome. Even if he’s as handsome as Zac Efron.