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The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons has been cast in a pivotal role opposite Zac Efron’s Ted Bundy in the true-life crime thriller Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. Efron shocked fans in May when word surfaced he was going to play Bundy, one of the most notorious serial killers in U.S. history, whose crimes involving dozens of women in the 1970s included murder, rape and necrophilia.
In a business where image is everything, Efron’s move appeared to be a bold one, considering that the bulk of his work in film and television has been lighter fare. After he rose to prominence in the High School Musical films for Disney, he branched out a little bit by taking on likable yet flawed characters in such comedies as Neighbors, its sequel, and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, but recently returned to the musical genre with The Greatest Showman. Now, it appears that another actor who has projected a mostly likable image in Hollywood is joining Efron in the type of project that most of their fans aren’t used to seeing them in.
A source close to the film tells The Wrap that Parsons will play Larry Simpson in Extremely Wicked. Simpson was the lead prosecutor in the 1979 Miami trial that convicted Bundy of the murders of two sorority sisters in the Chi Omega house in Tallahassee, FL. The murders, as it turns out, were only two of the 30 the serial killer confessed to in a killing spree that spanned seven states from 1974-78.
Directed by documentary-turned-feature filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost), Extremely Wicked also stars Lily Collins as Bundy’s longtime girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer – the woman who turned Bundy into police after years of denial – and Kaya Scodelario (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) as Bundy’s ex-wife, Carole Anne Boone. John Malkovich also stars in the film as Judge Edward Cowart, who presided over Bundy’s 1979 Florida trial. Filming is currently underway on the film, and Efron recently shared a first look of him as Bundy in what appeared to be a recreation of a booking photo.
While the move of playing the prosecutor in one of Bundy’s trials isn’t nearly as risky as Efron playing the serial killer, taking on a serious role in Extremely Wicked is a great move for Parsons. Although The Big Bang Theory is still a popular show in its 11th season, Parsons has to be aware of the fact that the show won’t go on forever, and is slowing branching out into other avenues, presumably in a bid to show that he has an acting range that extends beyond comedy. He’s already shown that he can separate himself from his Sheldon Cooper persona in his memorable role as an arrogant and dismissive NASA engineer in the 2016 smash Hidden Figures, and his role in Extremely Wicked will give him another great opportunity to tackle serious, and in this case, very disturbing subject matter.