Sam Worthington says he held off as long as possible meeting FBI agent and criminal profiler Jim Fitzgerald, whom he portrays in Discovery Channel’s Manhunt: Unabomber, because Fitz, a profiler, would have been profiling Worthington, as the actor was trying to profile Fitz.
Worthington did, he said, read Fitzgerald’s book and got to know him around the edges via other material. When they finally did meet, Worthington says he told the agent he had to play him “warts and all,” to which Fitzgerald responded he’s left handed, not right handed.
“He’s a very literal man,” Worthington said of the man who pioneered the use of forensic linguistics to identify and eventually bust Harvard-educated Ted Kaczynski at his rural Montana cabin in 1996. Between 1978-1995, Kaczynski mailed bombs to universities and airlines, killing three people and injuring nearly two dozen more.
One critic asked Worthington to explain the look he was sporting at the panel, which included a Mohawk and beard and was nothing like clean-cut Fitzgerald but, presumably, more to do with Avatar.
“Fitz did not look like this,” responded Worthington.
Long pause ensued.
“OK. Thanks,” the critic said.
Paul Bettany, who plays Kaczynski, said he had access to the bomber’s reading list which was “fascinatingly clichéd” in that it consisted entirely of novels about men who felt alienated from the world around them. Think Crime And Punishment.
The 8-by-10-foot cabin, without water and electricity, in which Kaczynski lived two decades “felt like its own character and absolutely was a place of safety for Ted,” Bettany said. The actor expressed regret for having said in interviews to promote the project that he went to live in a cabin in the woods to get a sense of the isolation. “I would like to clarify: it was a nice cabin. With a pool. People are saying, ‘he went to live in the cabin’. I did not do that. I did live in my own, very nice cabin,” for what he described today as a “bullshit attempt to try to get a pinch of what that loneliness” must have been like, noting he has three kids, a dog, a cat, and a wife at home.
Script writer/executive producer Andrew Sodroski described the Unabomber’s manifesto, which FBI got newspapers to publish in its effort to pin him down, as a prescient document about society’s relationship with technology, written in a pre-smartphone world.
Sodroski called it an “incredible document,” insisting “part of the tragedy” is that Kaczynski could only get people to read it by blowing up people.
In success, Unabomber will be the first in a Manhunt franchise for Discovery, Ross said.
Discovery’s eight-part limited series premieres August 1.