Sam Worthington's shocking TV role

HE was the subject of the longest ever FBI manhunt and one of America's most high profile killers, but Sam Worthington says Unabomber Ted Kaczynski may have been on to something.

As he studied Kaczynski's anarchist "manifesto" in preparation for his new role, playing the agent who brought him to justice, Worthington says he was struck by his message.

"I think there are things I read in the manifesto that I agree with, to be honest," Worthington told News Corp while filming Manhunt: Unabomber in Atlanta.

Kaczynski was a maths prodigy and former Harvard professor who murdered three people and injured 23 others with mail bombs sent over 17 years from 1978 in a domestic terror campaign against technology.

"I do not agree with how he went about trying to get his message across, I think no one would," Worthington said.

But the more he researched the role, he found himself thinking: "You know Ted Kaczynski's way of thinking actually kind of makes sense, it's just his approach to it was awful."

Diesel Madkins as Ernie Esposito and Sam Worthington as investigator Jim Fitzgerald in US drama series, Manhunt: Unabomber.
Diesel Madkins as Ernie Esposito and Sam Worthington as investigator Jim Fitzgerald in US drama series, Manhunt: Unabomber. Foxtel

In the new series (which airs on the Discovery channel from October 5), Worthington plays FBI agent Jim Fitzgerald, whose obsessive hunt for Kaczynski cost him his marriage.

In preparing for his US TV drama debut, he said he avoided meeting Fitzgerald (who consulted on the show), because he didn't want his portrayal to be influenced by the man he is now rather than the person he was 20 years ago.

Instead, he listened to hours of taped interviews between Fitzgerald and the writers and read all he could about the case, saying he was intrigued by the way Fitzgerald used his knowledge as a linguist to help identify the Unabomber.

"I liked the nature of the investigation and I liked the complexity of it. I liked that this was a thriller that was based on language," the 41-year-old actor said.

"There's a duality to these men that keeps you motivated in the series."

One of the main challenges of the role was treating the victims and their families with respect.

"Whenever you are doing a true story you have to be extremely careful, especially on something where you can't let go of the fact that there were victims," Worthington said.

"There still are victims. People got killed and their families are still surviving with that …

"Yeah it's an exciting thriller, but what we are saying is this man went out and the way he tried to get his point across was that he killed people, innocent people."

Marvel actor Paul Bettany plays Kaczynski, alongside Sex And The City favourite Chris Noth and New Zealander and Game of Thrones star Keisha Castle-Hughes, who rounds out the big name cast.

Not so long ago it would have been almost unthinkable for such high profile stars to attach themselves to an eight-part TV biopic.

But Worthington, who is spending the next several years shooting back-to-back blockbuster sequels to Avatar in the role that took him from almost broke to international megastar in 2009, said it didn't matter whether he was making a blockbuster or a TV show, as long as it was good.

"There's more meat because we've got eight hours of stuff we have to work on instead of like 90 minutes," he said.

"So that's like four movies we're shooting in the space of a couple of months, so you have to be a little bit more prepared, and you get to flesh out these characters.

"You ask us the difference between a film and TV and a blockbuster, and I think there's no f----- difference, really. It's all about the story. "

Worthington was visited at the Atlanta set by his model wife Lara Bingle, who brought their two sons from their New York home.

With the pair's early days as a couple in New York charted mercilessly by paparazzi, one of whom Worthington attacked after he kicked Bingle on the street, the former Fremantle bricklayer has learned to closely guard his family's privacy.

Bingle and their sons Rocket Zot, two, and Racer, who was born last October, will also travel to join him for filming parts of Avatar 2 - which is currently in pre-production in Australia.

"He's an amazing husband, and he's so good with the kids. He's very hands-on, and I think we really complement each other," Bingle recently said.

"He is our world."

* Manhunt: Unabomber airs 8.30pm, Thursdays from 5 October on Foxtel's Discovery Channel

Twitter: @sarahblakemedia

News Corp Australia

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