Zac Efron says it was ‘impossible to separate himself’ from killer Ted Bundy

He says the role tested his mental health

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In Zac Efron's latest film role, he plays serial killer Ted Bundy in 'Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile'. Zac Efron has spoken about the role, saying it was difficult for him to separate himself from it, and playing a serial killer tested his mental health.

Speaking to The Metro at the premier for the Ted Bundy film last night, Zac Efron was asked about how he was able to limit the mental toll. He said: "That was put to the test for this one. I’ve never played a role in which I have to separate myself. It was almost impossible. I would like to say I did that successfully, but I couldn’t."

Zac Efron as Ted Bundy in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

At the time of his trial, Ted Bundy was portrayed as charming, and a good-looking man who gained people's trust and was able to manipulate them. Bundy was executed in the electric chair at Florida State Prison on January 24th, 1989.

The film has received criticism for glamourising serial killers. However, the director of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, Joe Berlinger, and Zac Efron have both defended the film. They say it does not reflect Bundy well, and instead shows him as the serial killer and psychopath he was.

Zac Efron said: "I wasn’t interested in playing a serial killer. I’m not in the business of glamourising such a horrendous person or his acts.

"But there is something unique about the way going into the psyche of Ted and his longtime girlfriend Liz, it’s a different perspective and not your run-of-the-mill serial killer, cliche, bodycount gets higher and higher and 'oh the guy you always knew did it' [film]. It was what it was like to be there on the day."

Speaking to Sky News, Zac Efron also said: "I worked on studying his mannerisms and all the classic stuff. There was a fine line between keeping it a real, honest character and doing an impersonation. It was a fair amount of work."

The film's director, Joe Berlinger, added: "The reason I wanted Zac to play the role is that the lessons of Bundy can't be overstated. Bundy teaches us that the people who do evil in this world are the people you most often trust and who you least expect.

"To take that image and play with it in that way to me crystallises the intent of the film, which is to give the audience the experience of being deceived and betrayed by someone you know and love."

One of Ted Bundy's police mugshots

The film is from the perspective of Ted Bundy's girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer – played by Lily Collins. It explores the crimes of the American serial killer, kidnapper, rapist, burglar, and necrophile, who assaulted and murdered young women and girls during the 1970s. After years of denying his crimes, he admitted to 30 murders, but the true number of victims remains unknown.

The film focuses more on the mind of the killer, rather than displaying the murderous acts themselves – in an attempt to avoid glorifying. The film follows the hugely successful Netflix true crime documentary series, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.

'Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile' is being released on Netflix US on May 3rd. It will also be available on Sky Cinema and in selected cinemas in the UK.

Watch the trailer for the Zac Efron film here:

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