Discovery Channel’s scripted series MANHUNT: UNABOMBER tells the fact-based story of the FBI’s years-long hunt for Ted Kaczynski, who sent bombs through the mail to individuals, followed by screeds to news media. The story is seen largely through the eyes of Behavioral Analysis Unit Special Agent Jim Fitzgerald (played in the show by Sam Worthington). MANHUNT is set to be an anthology series, a la AMERICAN CRIME STORY, with a new subject each season.
Paul Bettany portrays the wily Kaczynski in MANHUNT: UNABOMBER. The English actor is known for a range of roles that include Jarvis/the Vision in THE AVENGERS films, the humanity-protecting angel in LEGION, the hero’s supportive but mysterious best friend in A BEAUTIFUL MIND and legendary scientist Charles Darwin in CREATION.
Bettany is in attendance at a party thrown by Discovery for the Summer 2017 Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour in the Wilshire Garden at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Discovery has not only brought a lot of people associated with both MANHUNT: UNABOMBER and some of the network’s other series to the event, but they’ve reconstructed Kaczynski’s remote cabin, down to details of its interior. The door is open, and party attendees are invited to step inside to get a glimpse into the mind of the murderer.
Asked what kind of research he did to play Kaczynski, Bettany indicates the cabin.
PAUL BETTANY: There aren’t many [tapes of Kaczynski for research]. When Ted was arrested by the FBI, they went into his cabin, and they itemized almost everything that was in his cabin, and there are a lot of books. And the books that are in there [the cabin replica] are the books that he had in there. And it’s amazing to have the reading list of Ted Kaczynski, the books that he had chosen to keep around himself, literally around his head, where he slept. There are a number of novels that he chose to have and keep with him that I think are really telling.
ASSIGNMENT X: How aware were you of Ted Kaczynski’s bombings and the FBI search while it was happening?
BETTANY: I was really aware of the end of it. I remember the photo fit and I remember the arrest picture. In England, sort of pre-Internet era, so …
AX: What makes Ted Kaczynski distinct for you from other people you’ve played? What’s the most unique thing about him for you?
BETTANY: He’s a real man who had an IQ of 168, who created this seventeen-year bombing campaign on the U.S. mainland, so he was incredibly unique as far as people I’ve played.
AX: If you had an opportunity to speak to Kaczynski, would you want to say anything to him? If so, what would you say?
BETTANY: Well, I’m not sure I’d say anything, but I’ve thought about this a lot. My real main question is, if it was really about your fury at the industrial society and how industrialization had enslaved us all and taken away our autonomy, if that was really what your beef was, why not take down the national power grid? Why human beings? Why flesh and blood? Because surely there are symbolic actions that you could have taken, things that you could have blown up, that didn’t involve bone and gristle and children and parents and families. So that’s the bit that I have difficulty with, where I think, no, this was about a deeper fury and a deeper hurt, a hurt that was old and ancient and came from earlier [time in Kaczynski’s life].
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Article: MANHUNT: UNABOMBER: Actor Paul Bettany – exclusive interview