There’s been a lot of recent casting news for Oscar-nominated filmmaker Joe Berlinger’s return to narrative features with the Ted Bundy thriller “EXTREMELY WICKED SHOCKINGLY EVIL AND VILE,” starring Zac Efron as the notorious serial killer. Today delivers one of the most intriguing casting choices as Metallica frontman James Hetfield is joining Berlinger’s film.
Hetfield will play Officer Bob Hayward, the Utah highway patrol veteran who first arrested Bundy in 1975 after pulling him over and discovering tools in his car. It will be the first time Hetfield will play a different character than himself after previous film and television appearances.
Fans of Berlinger’s documentaries (and Metallica) will already be aware of Berlinger’s rock doc Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, which he co-directed and co-produced with his former partner, the late Bruce Sinofsky. Berlinger also wrote a book about their experience with the band called Metallica: This Monster Lives.
Produced by Voltage Pictures’ Ara Keshishian and Nicolas Chartier from the original Nicholl Fellowship-winning screenplay by Michael Werwie, which also made the Black List, the film already stars Efron with Lily Collins, John Malkovich, Jim Parsons, Haley Joel Osment, Kaya Scodelario, Angela Sarafyan, Jeffrey Donovan Terry Kinney and Dylan Baker.
Michael Simkin is producing for Efron’s Ninjas Runnin Wild Productions with Voltage fully financing the project and Jonathan Deckter and Ninjas Runnin Wild’s Jason Barrett as exec. producers.
Hetfield’s influential band Metallica was formed in 1981 by Hetfield with drummer Lars Ulrich. They’ve won nine Grammys since then. Metallica’s last album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct was released in 2016 and was certified platinum after entering the Billboard Top 200 at #1. Metallica was also involved with the attempt to raise money to defend the West Memphis Three, the subject of Berlinger and Sinofsky’s Paradise Lost doc series, the last installment which was nominated for an Oscar.
This is Berlinger’s second dramatic feature after co-directing Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 with Sinofsky in 2000. Berlinger’s other docs include the recent Intent to Destroy and Gone: the Forgotten Women of Ohio, both based on fairly grim subjects. He spoke with the Tracking Board about the former and Extremely Wicked in an interview you can read here.
In a statement, director Joe Berlinger stated, “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.”
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor