After departing the High School Musical franchise, Zac Efron has proven to be a powerful comedic actor and has become a serious box office draw. Casting news has come out of the Cannes Film Festival that Efron will star as serial killer Ted Bundy in director Joe Berlinger's Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
Michael Werwie wrote the script for the film, which "is told through the perspective of Elizabeth Kloepfer, Bundy's longtime girlfriend, who went years denying the accusations against Bundy but ultimately turned him in to the police. Only nearing his execution, when Bundy began talking about his extensive and heinous murders, did Kloepfer, and the rest of the world, learn the true scope of his numerous and grisly crimes."
The project has already received much praise, earning Werwie the Nicholl Fellowship first prize and being featured on the Black List, which is an annual compilation of the best unproduced scripts floating around Hollywood.
This move for Efron could prove one of the biggest of his career, having previously relied on his good looks and boyish charm for many of his roles. In addition to spending his early acting years as a teen star, Efron went on to star in films aimed at his former demographic, like Charlie St. Cloud and 17 Again, before moving on to raunchier, R-rated comedies like the Neighbors films and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.
Later this month, Efron stars alongside Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in yet another R-rated comedy, adapting the '90s TV series Baywatch for the big screen. The comedy also stars Alexandra Daddario and Priyanka Chopra.
Director Berlinger is no stranger to showcasing disturbing subject matter in his films, having directed the Paradise Lost documentary trilogy, which told the story of the West Memphis Three, who were jailed for the triple murders of children in the early '90s. Based on the successes of his documentary films, Berlinger was tapped to direct the sequel to The Blair Witch Project, one of the most successful found footage horror movies of all time.
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 received negative critical and audience reactions at the time, with stories of a troubled production and studio interference supposedly resulting in the lackluster sequel.
Ted Bundy takes credit for having killed at least 30 people, mostly women and young girls, between 1974 and 1978 across seven states. He received three death sentences for his crimes, dying in the electric chair in 1989.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile aims to showcase both Bundy's sadistic nature and his shocking normalcy. This project could be exactly what Efron's career needs to rise above his comedic roles and showcase that he's a talented actor in a variety of genres.
[H/T The Hollywood Reporter, Photo Credit: Mark Metcalfe / Getty]