Authenticity: Joe Berlinger’s Accurate Portrayal of Ted Bundy in ‘Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile’

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Director Joe Berlinger is known for his work in true crime, particularly with projects like the 1992 documentary “Brother’s Keeper” and the “Paradise Lost” trilogy. Recently, Berlinger delved into the story of Ted Bundy through the documentary series “Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” and the film “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.” The latter, starring Zac Efron, has garnered attention for its portrayal of Bundy’s charm and charisma, as well as the accuracy of its historical depiction of the notorious serial killer.

Berlinger was meticulous in ensuring historical accuracy in the film, aiming to captivate audiences with Bundy’s enigmatic nature while staying true to the real story. While the film did take a few creative liberties, it effectively captured Bundy’s ability to charm and the unsettling feeling of his hidden dark side. Berlinger emphasizes that while the film is not a documentary, the historical beats of Bundy’s story are closely accurate.

The film offers an authentic portrayal of Bundy’s encounters, escapes, and media attention during his trial. Berlinger believed it was important for the audience to invest in the relationship between Efron’s Bundy and Lily Collins’ character, Elizabeth, in order to deliver a significant impact when she confronts Bundy. While some artistic variances exist, the film remains strikingly accurate, with its most unbelievable moments actually grounded in reality.

One of the major creative liberties taken in the film is the portrayal of Elizabeth’s visits to Bundy on Death Row, which diverges from the actual events as described in the book by Elizabeth Kendall, Bundy’s former partner. Despite this, the film effectively captures the essence of Bundy’s charm and the unsettling undercurrent of danger he exuded.

“Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” presents an opportunity for Efron to showcase his range as an actor, moving beyond his previous roles into more serious and captivating storytelling. The film, available on Netflix in the U.S., offers a rare glimpse into the mind of a notorious serial killer while delving into the complexities of his relationships and the public fascination with his persona.