If there’s any sure sign to indicate that actor Zac Efron of Disney’s “High School Musical” fame has cemented a new image after moving on from his young heartthrob days, look no further than his latest film from Paramount Pictures. The movie adaptation of 90s TV series “Baywatch” features him as a ripped manly man lifeguard swapping adult-humor jokes with costar Dwayne Johnson between action scenes. But that will soon be eclipse by his next project. Before the “Baywatch” movie premieres this May 25, word has gone out that Efron has been cast in the role of perhaps one of the most sinister and depraved serial killers in history, that of Ted Bundy.

Portrait of a famous killer

The film is titled “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile”, to be directed by Joe Berlinger, an Oscar-nominee documentary filmmaker. While Zac Efron is at center focus being the murderer Ted Bundy, the movie is said to be seen from the viewpoint of Bundy’s girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer. Kloepfer was not privy to her boyfriend’s criminal activities though she eventually suspected him. She intially denied accusations against him but ultimately helped turn him over to police. The movie’s script is written by Michael Werwie, and it has earned him the Nicholl Fellowship first prize award.

News about the Bundy project was dropped on the first day of this year’s Cannes Film Festival by Voltage Pictures, which produced the Academy Award-winning modern war thriller “The Hurt Locker”.

The main draw for the film is its attempt to illustrate how a serial killer like Bundy was able to hide his grotesquely malevolent nature and intentions behind the most deceptively façade of an everyman. His unremarkably average looks have been instrumental in Bundy’s ensnaring of the numerous victims of his murder spree, the exact count of which has never been nailed down.

Playing against type

Principal photography for “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” is slated to start on October 9. Voltage Pictures is footing the finances and international sales while CAA and UTA cover the domestic distribution rights. Producers include Nicolas Chartier and Ara Keshishian for Voltage; Michael Simkin, Jason Barrett and Zac Efron himself for his Ninjas Runnin’ Wild banner, and Michael Costigan from the recent “Ghost in the Shell” Hollywood adaptation.

This will be perhaps the darkest cinematic portrayal to be undertaken by Efron, who graduated from the teen-ness of the “High School Musicalfranchise into adult comedies like “Baywatch”. He’s also making a splash on stage, co-starring with Hugh Jackman in the musical “The Greatest Showman”.