Zac Efron on Ted Bundy: History must never be repeated
Ted Bundy was one of the world’s most notorious serial killers, responsible for the deaths of over 30 women.
It’s possible he killed many more.
Now the story of his capture and trial is being brought to the big screen in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
Zac Efron, who plays Bundy, says there is a stark warning to be taken from the film.
“Friends or more distant family or anyone that knew him at school described him as a fun-loving, very smart, intuitive young Republican.
“He had every kind of white privilege; he was good looking, he had things going for him. That right there makes this unique.
“A person of colour couldn’t have gotten away with any of those things. It’s shocking.”
Bundy used his charm to lure his victims to their deaths, and then successfully worked the same trick again to avoid capture.
His clean-cut image allowed him to get away with murder.
Long before reality shows were a thing, Bundy achieved a level of perverse celebrity, thanks to TV.
As his was the first nationally televised criminal trial, his image and words were beamed into living rooms across America night after night.
A trainee lawyer, Bundy chose to represent himself in court.
He dressed in a bow tie and eye-catching suits, exchanging banter with the judge and even proposing to a witness on the stand.
Carole-Ann Boone accepted his proposal and went on to have a daughter with him.
Thanks to the exposure, Bundy quickly amassed a large (mainly female) fan base and became a media sensation.
At one point he even claimed he was “more popular than Disney World”.
Efron says there is a moral to this: “We have to be careful who we put on TV, because the day somebody made that trial public Ted Bundy was able to manipulate the masses with his charisma and his charm and his clean-cut white image.”
Bundy challenged the public perception of what a serial killer should look like and exploited the fact that many were unable to see beyond his good looks.
One person who was taken in by his charm was his girlfriend Liz Kloepfer, played by Lily Collins in the film.
The story is told from her point of view, based on her memoir The Phantom Prince about the seven years she spent with Bundy.
Collins is adamant the mother-of-one was completely ignorant of his evil acts.
“She had no idea what he was doing. You read about these cults and you can read about women that know what’s going on and yet they still love whoever is involved.
“In my opinion there’s a big difference between that type of character and Liz, who was completely blind to everything that was going on.
“She loved this man wholeheartedly, did not believe in any of the crimes that he was committing.”
It was evidence that came out in the televised trial that Collins believes finally allowed Liz to realise Bundy’s guilt.
“Ted was good to her daughter. It felt like the right family for her until the very end when that court case was being televised and she was privy to information that she had not been before.
“That’s when doubt struck in. Before that she was just a woman in love with a man.”
During his trial, Bundy escaped jail twice – once for more than six weeks, during which time he committed yet more murders.
It is chilling to think that he was only brought to police attention in the first place due to careless driving.
Had Bundy been better behind the wheel, he may never have been caught.
Efron says it is a mistake that must never be repeated.
“He got away with everything and that injustice is heinous. We can’t repeat history like that.”
:: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is in cinemas and on Sky Cinema from Friday