BEVERLY HILLS — Notorious serial bomber Ted Kaczynski is the target in Discovery Channel’s Manhunt: Unabomber (two-hour premiere Tues., 9 ET/PT).
Paul Bettany (Captain America: Civil War) portrays the brilliant Unabomber, who is being tracked by many, including FBI agent and profiler Jim “Fitz” Fitzgerald, played by Sam Worthington (Avatar), in the eight-episode series.
Chris Noth (The Good Wife) plays an FBI task force supervisor and Jane Lynch (Glee) plays Attorney General Janet Reno in the story of Kaczynski, who was captured in 1996 after a huge manhunt and is now serving a life sentence in prison. If successful, Manhunt could continue as a series focusing on other real-life cases.
During a panel at the summer TV press tour Wednesday, Bettany and Worthington, each making his first major appearance on U.S. television, took different paths in trying to understand the real-life people they play.
For Kaczynski, “the two most interesting things were his unpublished autobiography, which had excerpts that were incredibly honest and revealing,” Bettany said. “And, when Ted Kaczynski was arrested, the FBI itemized everything in his 10-by-8(-foot) cabin and I had access to his readings,” including Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.
“They were novels about the outsider, the man who feels like an alien in society and commits a crime he can’t come back from,” the actor he said. “That was really useful.”
Worthington said he was wary of meeting Fitzgerald, a pioneer in forensic linguistics who serves as a consulting producer.
“He’s a profiler, so he would have been trying to profile me at the same time i was trying to profile the profiler,” said Worthington, who got a glimpse of Fitzgerald’s personality when he was on set. “There was the time when he would walk away and forget he was on mic(rophone) and I started to discover who he really was, because … he was off guard.”
(When Worthington was asked if his haircut and beard, much different than Fitzgerald’s conservative look in the series,…