The heavy metal frontman steps into his first dramatic role.
Ted Bundy was America’s boogeyman throughout the 1980s. He was a nightmare figure, wrapped inside an unassuming frame, and tied with a pretty boy smile. Having confessed to murdering over 30 women in multiple states between the years 1974 and 1978, Bundy has been the macabre focus of various pop culture excursions. He was the subject of Ann Rule’s infamous memoir “The Stranger Beside Me,” the true crime made-for-tv-movie The Deliberate Stranger, and Eminem’s creeper “Stay Wide Awake,” and now, Zac Efron will find humanity behind the monster in Extremely Wicked, Shocking Evil and Vile.
According to Variety, director Joe Berlinger has cast Metallica frontman James Hetfield as the police officer who arrested Bundy following a traffic stop in 1979. Hetfield has contributed voice work for Metalocalypse, The Simpsons, and American Dad, and he’s even made a guest appearance as himself in the television series Billions, but this will be his first real foray into live-action acting. Along with Efron, Hetfield joins an already eclectic cast including Lily Collins, John Malkovich, Haley Joel Osment, and Jim Parsons.
The musician and director developed a relationship during the production of Berlinger and the late Bruce Sinofsky’s Paradise Lost trilogy, which focused on the wrongful conviction of the “West Memphis Three.” Metallica’s music found itself center stage during the trial, as the three teenage suspects had their taste in music and film scrutinized for deviant behavior. From there, Berlinger and Sinofsky made the documentary Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster, which obsessively scrutinizes the band’s contemptuous relationship while they try to record their album St. Anger.
Berlinger said in a statement on the casting:
“Having spent hundreds of hours behind the scenes with James and the rest of Metallica, I have experienced his charisma and powerful presence close up. It seemed only natural that he would bring that same power and magnetism to a dramatic role, so when he agreed to my pitch that he be in the movie, I was thrilled.”
It’s unclear how prominent Hetfield’s role will be in the film, but considering that Malkovich has been cast as the judge who delivered Bundy’s death sentence, we can assume that the post-arrest plot will consume a significant amount of the film’s runtime. Officer Bob Hayward, whom Hetfield is playing, died in August of last year, but he was on record as calling his apprehension of Bundy a career highlight. That arrest occurred after Hayward took a wrong turn down a neighborhood street and fortuitously spotted Bundy’s Volkswagen idling outside his friends’ home. As he pulled behind the VW, Bundy fled the scene, and Hayward pursued him to an abandoned gas station where he held the suspect at gunpoint.
Bundy, and human monsters like him, hold an uncontrollable fascination for a public that constantly fears the other next door. Berlinger has spent decades exploring the very concept of evil, and hopefully his own fixations with man’s beastly nature will translate into a unique point of view on the true crime shocker. With no set release date, it remains to be seen whether Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile will dig any deeper beyond the curiosity of its stunt casting.