It might seem unlikely that cutesy boy wonder Zac Efron would move from a lifeguard role in “Baywatch” to a killer role in the upcoming film, “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile." But there is a specific producer behind Zac Efron’s new film role as mass murderer Ted Bundy. His name is Nicolas Cartier, a French creative artist particularly notable for his role in producing the highly acclaimed film, "The Hurt Locker."

Now Cartier has a new project, telling the story of one of America's most heinous serial killers, Ted Bundy, and he had a special notion to cast a highly charismatic actor as the shockingly evil murderer, Zac Efron.

For Zac, this is a big step away from the "High School Musical" days, and a step towards true versatility in his work as an actor.

Cartier wanted to work with Zac in the Bundy role

The selection of Zac Efron for this role was calculated. "Variety" reports film producer Cartier said of the decision to cast Zac as Ted Bundy: “I have been trying to work with Zac Efron for a long time. From his dramatic turn in Paperboy to his hilarious performance in Neighbors, he continues to impress audiences and critics alike with his extraordinary versatility and range. We couldn’t be more excited to see him in this amazing role.”

"Paper Boy" brought out a somewhat off-color version of Zac Efron (who often was seen in the film donning only his cotton briefs), but also had him share the screen with Hollywood icons John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey, and Nicole Kidman in a film that, according to one Washington Post reviewer, brings "the viewer in, like an undertow." This was a cinematic opportunity for Efron.

There was a particularly graphic scene in which Nicole Kidman gives Zac an old-fashioned remedy for a jellyfish sting, by urinating on the wound. Perhaps this sequence, in its departure from G-rated tastes, helped prepare Zac to cross the line from "High School Musical" innocence into playing serial killer Ted Bundy. Or perhaps it was his role in "Neighbors," in which Zac played the head of a fraternity much like the one in "Animal House." But the truth is, that Zac's tumultuous life itself makes him a good fit for this role, and most likely Cartier could see the potential.

Can Zac's addiction history equate to versatility as an actor?

Like many child actors, Zac has had his struggles with drugs and alcohol. "No matter who you are, you face challenges growing up," Zac told The Hollywood Reporter, continuing, "It's impossible to lead an honest and fulfilling life as a man and not make mistakes and 'fess up to them when you need to.

... I'm a human being, and I've made a lot of mistakes. I've learned from each one." Zac's highly public life, and his mistakes, some of which have put him in drug rehab programs, are also the stuff from which knowledge and depth of character may be forged. As Zac Efron progresses as an actor, taking on the new Ted Bundy role, he will be fulfilling producer Cartier's vision of Zac as an actor versatile enough to move from "High School Musical" to "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile." And Zac will no doubt show us that he has the right stuff to excel in this role.