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Why Zac Efron will make the perfect Ted Bundy

The "High School Musical" alum will play the serial killer in "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile." It's good casting.
Zac Efron
Zac Efron will play Ted Bundy. He already played a borderline-sociopath in the 2014 rom-com "That Awkward Moment." Credit: Sony

Well, here’s something we never expected Zac Efron to do back in 2008, or even back in 2016: He’s going to play Ted Bundy. There’s a biopic about the serial killer in the works, to be called “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.” And on top of boasting a title that’s a little long and hard to remember (seriously, consider losing one, maybe two adjectives before you settle on a name), it also just cast the former “High School Musical” star as someone who killed over 30 people.

Here’s where we make the case that Zac Efron is secretly a good actor. We’ve done it before, and we don’t exactly want to rehash old points. We will amend our Zac appraisal, though: He is actually very funny — provided he’s playing the quietly self-hating villain (as in the “Neighbors” films), not the easily flummoxed straight man (see: “Dirty Grandpa,” maybe “Baywatch,” based on those trailers). That’s because Efron is not only secretly funny — his screen persona works best when he’s also secretly evil.

We defer to critic Bilge Ebiri’s hilarious old review of “That Awkward Moment,” a  typical rom-com in which Efron plays The Lothario Who’s Quietly Hurting Inside. Rather than critique it straight-up, Ebiri adopts a deeply funny gimmick: It pretends that the movie is not a light comedy but as a "dark psychological thriller." Efron isn’t just a lovable lothario who needs an awakening; his pursuit of women purely for sex, Ebiri argues, is downright sociopathic. He isn’t just a horndog; he really doesn’t understand that other people have feelings, because he doesn’t have them himself.

So maybe Efron is the perfect thespian to play a noted serial killer who spent some four years racking up a mighty body count. Look at his perfect abs, his dreamy blue eyes, his faux-innocent face. We doubt very highly that Zac Efron is a murderer himself. But can he play a guy who tried to lure women to help with his “sailboat” only for there to be no sailboat? Sure.

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