Friday, June 14, 2024

Zac Efron, Charming and Sinister in New Ted Bundy Film, Says Tom Hanks Told Him: “Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse”– But He Doesn’t Like to Admit It


I learned a lot tonight about serial killer Ted Bundy, actor Zac Efron, and movie making in general.

Efron, who’s far been kind of a male pin up, gives a devastatingly charming and sinister perfomance as serial killer Ted Bundy in Joe Berlinger’s “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile” which hits Netflix now. Berlinger, an award winning documentary filmmaker, has done an excellent job not glamorizing Bundy but telling a different kind of story rather than a police procedural.

“EW” for short is told through the eyes of Bundy’s lover and fiancee, Liz Kendall, who couldn’t believe in her heart what horrors he’d committed but knew it enough in her head to turn in to the police. Lily Collins has Liz just right– mousey at first, naive, and then explosive when she realizes what she’s done. Watch her arc, it’s fascinating.

“EW” was screened last night at the Tribeca Film Festival with the cast present. We not only learned about the characters, but the actors, too. Efron, wearing a cloud of dyed blonde hair, could not describe for the audience his research for the part. So Collins took over and told the audience, “He won’t admit it, but he does a ton of prep.”

Efron shrugged, and seemed a little confused. But then he said something that I asked him about later. “Tom Hanks told me, Rehearse, rehease, rehearse.” When I asked him backstage, he said that was true.

“Tom did tell me that. And the fact is, I don’t like talking about how I approach a part. My preparation is private. I want to make it look easy, I don’t want you to know how I got there.” So bully for him. You can’t take your eyes off Efron as Bundy, he’s that good. A magician is not required to tell us the secret to his tricks. Efron is entitled to his privacy. But I think we’re going to see more and more serious roles from him.

Collins is just super as Liz. Her next roles are in “Les Miserables” and “Tolkein,” for which she’s already receiving raves.

Berlinger has given Netflix a gift with this movie. I’ll bet it scores huge views. Bundy never becomes sympathetic, don’t worried. But we get to see the gears turning in his head, all leading to his final scene with Collins in which the whole thing becomes an epiphany. Nicely done.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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