‘Manhunt: Unabomber’ Puts On the Hoodie

paul-bettany-manhunt-unabomber-e1496698904373Paul Bettany portrays Ted Kaczynski tonight in “Manhunt: Unabomber” (Discovery, 9 p.m.), the first of an eight-hour miniseries on the cable network. He’s part of a cast that includes Sam Worthington and Chris Noth as investigators, Jane Lynch as Janet Reno and Mark Duplass as the brother who turned him in.

Bettany credited hair and makeup people into making him resemble the Unabomber. But to get in his head, he did a lot of reading. one was his unpublished autobiography, which the actor calls “incredibly honest and revealing.”

But he also got access to his reading list of books found in his Montana cabin.

“That was fascinating,” Bettany told reporters at the TV Critics Association summer press tour last week. “The novels that he had chosen to keep quite literally around his head, you know, above his bed, were fascinatingly cliched in that they were like Joseph Conrad’s ‘The Secret Agent’ and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ and Arthur Koestler’s ‘Darkness at Noon.’

“They were all they were all novels about the outside, the man who feels like an alien in society and commits a crime that he can’t come back from, and that was really useful for me.”

And then there was the manifesto itself, which he insisted be printed in newspapers lest he continue his bombing campaign.

Writer and producer of the film Andrew Sodroski says “what the manifesto has to say about our relationship with technology and with society is more true right now than it was when Ted published it. I think it’s prophetic. I think it’s about our relationship with our smartphones 20 years before a smartphone existed. It’s about the way technology constrains us and defines our lives the way that when your phone dings, you answer it. It doesn’t matter that you know it’s stupid and unimportant. It doesn’t matter that there’s a person in front of you that you are talking to. You obey.”

The manifesto, Sodroski says, “is like an incredible document that no one reads. And I think part of the tragedy of Ted is that the only way he could get people to read what he wrote was by bombing people, and when you bomb people, people don’t take what you have to say seriously.”

Should the Unabomber story be successful, the intent is to have future mini-seasons under the title “Manhunt.”

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