Ted Bundy Survivor Responds to Controversy Over Zac Efron's Portrayal of Serial Killer
"I believe that in order to show him exactly the way he was, it's not really glorifying him, but it's showing him," Kathy Kleiner Rubin said
Zac Efron playing one of the most notorious serial killers of all time is freaking out the Internet — and according to a survivor of Ted Bundy, that’s how it should be.
Kathy Kleiner Rubin — who was a 20-year-old sorority sister at Florida State University when Bundy crept into her bedroom at 3 a.m. and beat her and her roommate with a club — spoke to TMZ about her relationship to the series of murders outlined in Efron’s new film, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
The movie recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Critics have called out the movie for over-emphasizing Bundy’s charm and good looks. But Kleiner Rubin said she doesn’t have “a problem with people looking at it, and as long as they understand that what they’re watching wasn’t a normal person.”
She continued: “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.”
Not everyone whose lives have been destroyed by Bundy sees it the same way, though.
Belva Kent, the mother of one of his victims, Debra Jean Kent, who was murdered in 1974 at age 17, tells PEOPLE of another recent Bundy project, the Netflix docuseries Conversations with a Killer: “Why keep rubbing our face in it all the time? It’s very hard to deal with and when they keep bringing it up and putting it up.”
Kent continues: “It’s very disgusting to me. … It’s kind of aggravating to me, but I just try to ignore it and move on.”
In addition, Kent thinks that portrayals of Bundy should stress that what his victims suffered “can happen to anybody.”
“You just never know when you can be in that position,” she explains to PEOPLE. “You just want to let people know that it’s out there. … No one’s immune.”
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Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile follows Bundy’s life through the perspective of his girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer, who struggled to accept the reality of her boyfriend’s horrific, true nature.
Lily Collins stars as Kloepfer alongside John Malkovich as Edward Cowart, the presiding judge at Bundy’s 1979 trial in Florida who sentenced the killer to death.
Bundy, a law student, met Kloepfer in 1969 in Washington where she worked as a secretary at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Not long before he was put to death, Bundy confessed to killing at least 30 women in seven states between 1974 and 1978 — and authorities believe that he killed many others. Experts estimate it might be much closer to 100.
He was executed in Florida on Jan. 24, 1989.
The movie has no release date yet.
• With reporting by ADAM CARLSON