In an interview with YOU star Penn Badgley, the actor discussed with us the curious reception of some fans who admitted they were attracted to his character, psycho-stalker and murderer Joe Goldberg. “It’s been proven time and time again that charming, powerful, white men are capable of [doing] really awful things. And we’re also often willing to sort of forgive them almost every step of the way,” he said.
To this day, Ted Bundy’s story continues to fascinate the public. In fact, aside from this documentary, his chilling tale has already been adapted into numerous movies. The latest of which is Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, slated to be released this year.
Over the weekend, its first trailer, starring Zac Efron as Ted Bundy, was released. Though it shares the same director, in contrast to the Netflix series, the film focuses on Ted’s story told largely in the perspective of Ted’s ex-fiancé Elizabeth Kloepfer, played by Lily Collins.
The trailer has since received mixed reactions from netizens. There are those who say that it is upsetting and deeply disrespectful for the families and friends of the victims, as it seems to glorify and romanticize the serial killer.
That's exactly what Ted Bundy wanted. posthumous fame for his cruelties. You can count on Hollywood to make the worst human beings immortal.What's next?The Harvey Weinstein biopic?What a punch to the face for the victim's families after all these years #ZacEfron#ExtremelyWickedpic.twitter.com/vgPCqHexmD
Zac Efron as Ted Bundy is kinda perfect casting cause you can't believe that he could possibly play a terrifying serial killer in the same way that you couldn't have looked at Ted Bundy and believed that he *was* a terrifying serial killer. https://t.co/kew3IpkvVf
It seems this was all intentional in the director’s part. In an interview with Variety, Joe admitted he was drawn to the idea of casting Zac because “it played against his likeable persona.” He said, “He has 37 million followers on Instagram and he’s one of the main heartthrobs for a certain age of young female. Because Bundy’s character is so wrapped up in his sex appeal and charm, I loved the idea of subverting Zac’s sex appeal and charm.”
In the same interview, Zac revealed that just like Penn Badgley, he too “had reservations about playing a serial killer.” He further told the publication that “This movie was really about a human being, somebody that perhaps I would have been friends with.” He even admitted, “Something clicked pretty early on, and it was kind of scary. It was that Ted and I had quite a bit in common in the way we carried ourselves. There are a few mannerisms. You can tell he’s a bit bashful. He’s kind of shy. He’s a well-spoken guy, but he hides his anxiety with a bit of a smile. I didn’t want to do too much of an impersonation.”
Personally, I admit I’m one of those who see the trailer as off-putting. I too feel like Ted was glorified in a way. I get the intent of the director, and I honestly don’t have any problem with Zac being cast as Ted Bundy. But to me the trailer’s tone feels too light, considering we’re talking about a serial rapist and murderer here. I can’t imagine how the victim’s families are taking it. The fact that “serial killer stans” even exist is additionally disturbing.
If Ted Bundy really looked like Zac Efron I would have been one of the first ones killed
Still, I’m keeping an open mind. Hopefully the next trailers would give us a better idea of how the film will turn out. (I agree with most comments: The choice of music in the first trailer is awful.) After all, Zac promised he would not give us a poor excuse of a film. “I feel a responsibility to make sure that this movie is not a celebration of Ted Bundy. Or a glorification of him,” he said in the Variety interview. “But, definitely, a psychological study of who this person was. In that, there’s honesty.”
Art by Marian Hukom
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