Everything to Know About Zac Efron's Ted Bundy Film — Including the Controversy Surrounding It
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is now on Netflix
The 31-year-old actor stars as the serial killer who was convicted of killing and raping several women across seven states from at least 1974 to 1978.
This is a change of pace for Efron, who is perhaps best known for his roles in musical fares such as High School Musical and Hairspray.
Here’s everything to know about the Netflix film which lands on the streaming platform on Friday.
1. The movie has been accused of glamorizing Bundy but a survivor feels otherwise
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.
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.”
Efron addressed concerns about the film during his appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Tuesday.
“I am not into portraying a serial killer or anybody of this nature or glamorizing them in any way,” he said. “It does not glamorize killing. This is an important thing for people to hear.”
Efron pointed out Bundy evaded capture for so long due to his privilege as a white man saying, “Ted Bundy was a clean-cut, white dude, white person, so talk about white privilege.”
He added, “What he got away with back then, nobody would be able to do today.”
2. The film tells the story from the perspective of Bundy’s ex-girlfriend
The thriller, which follows the life of Bundy, is told through the perspective of his girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer, who struggled to accept the reality of her boyfriend’s true nature.
Lily Collins, 30, 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 met Kloepfer in 1969 in Washington where she worked as a secretary at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Kloepfer had a small daughter from a different relationship when she met Bundy and was in denial about his crimes for a time. However, she reported him to police several times when she recognized him from a sketch shown on television.
3. The film’s director also directed Netflix’s Ted Bundy documentary series
Joe Berlinger has immersed himself in the crimes of Bundy and not just for the film.
Berlinger, 57, directed Netflix’s Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, which was released in January on the 30th anniversary of the murderer’s execution.
The documentary series contains more than 100 hours of death-row interviews with Bundy covering his life and his crimes.
Berlinger told The Guardian he was motivated to make the documentary and the scripted drama when he realized his college-aged daughters and their friends weren’t aware of who Bundy was.
“I felt for a new generation the lessons of Bundy — the social justice part — can’t be overstated,” he told the newspaper. “That just because somebody looks and acts a certain way, it doesn’t mean they’re worthy of your trust… There are a lot of people out there who pretend to be one thing and aren’t, and that’s the true nature of evil.”
He added, “Evil is not some two-dimensional monster out there — evil is three-dimensional people who are part of our society.”
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is now on Netflix.