Zac Efron has nabbed a major role, according to Deadline, and will helm unconventional John McAfee biopic King of the Jungle, playing a journalist who came face to face with the real-life former tech magnate’s deteriorating mental state in the jungles of Belize. The film, which has been in development for several years, will be helmed by Crazy, Stupid, Love and I Love You, Philip Morris directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa.
The source of the screenplay is an article by Joshua Davis in Wired magazine, which chronicled the rather bizarre excesses enjoyed by millionaire John McAfee, who made his fortune via McAfee Antivirus software, before cashing out and creating a mansion-like compound in the jungles of Belize. There, according to the article, he “set up a Colonel Kurtz-like compound of guns, sex and madness.” Efron would be playing a proxy character for Davis, named Ari Furman, who travels to Belize to meet McAfee, only to find the situation is far stranger than he expected, experiencing “McAfee’s escalating paranoia, slippery reality and murder.”
Those who have plumbed the depths of Weird Twitter almost certainly know McAfee as one of the platform’s classic eccentric millionaires, with more than a million followers who he tends to entertain with unhinged rambling on a variety of topics—cryptocurrency being one of the major ones. If you’ve never run across McAfee, we believe his Twitter banner image should tell you everything you need to know.
King of the Jungle had previously been set to star Seth Rogen in the journalist role, with Michael Keaton as the unhinged McAfee, which would likely have been a lot of fun to see. Deadline, however, reports that the project had stalled, with casting underway once again for the role of McAfee, and principal photography planned for the beginning of 2020.
McAfee, meanwhile, reacted on Twitter in about the way you’d expect, being pleased that the film is still moving forward with Efron, while claiming that “Michaele” Keaton is still portraying him, despite entertainment outlets reporting the opposite. We’d expect nothing less of this guy.
Efron is in the midst of a prolific period, appearing in films such as The Greatest Showman and Baywatch, along with Netflix’s Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. Along with King of the Jungle, he’s meant to take over Frank Welker’s role of Fred Jones in Scoob, the latest revival of Scooby Doo.