Sharlto Copley on Ted K, Playing the Unabomber and District 9 Sequel

From skinning rabbits to enduring freezing temperatures, Copley puts all her energy into playing the criminal mastermind. He also updated “District 9” fans on the whereabouts of the planned sequel.

Learn how to skin rabbits, actors Sharlto Copley said, is “not pleasant.”

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa and currently living in Los Angeles, the actor who plays the longtime character identifies himself as a city dweller. Six feet tall and bearded, he has a gentle, mountain-like appearance, but Launching out of his LA home in the hills, he’s a far cry from Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber, who that he plays in the new movie”Ted KY. For director Tony Stone’s portrayal of the Harvard-trained math prodigy who fled civilized life in the 1970s and meticulously carried out a series of executions and executions. bomb, Copley must learn to do things like skinning rabbits, chopping meat. wood, and survive in sub-freezing, sub-cooling temperatures.

“I grew up in South Africa, where we used to go backpacking quite a bit, in my generation. But over the past few years, I have really become a city dweller, a spoiled city dweller who has forgotten a lot of things, or doesn’t know many things. Turns out, we shot in Montana, on a Ted basis, and we used a lot of locals to help us with the furniture,” said Copley, who is best known for his work with friend. , sci-fi director Neill Blomkamp, ​​said on the film. as “District 9“” Elysium,” and “Chappie. ”

Indeed, “Ted K” was filmed in the exact spot from which Kaczynski masterminded his crimes in Lincoln, Montana, and in a replica of Kaczynski’s cabin where it once stood, on the concrete platform he and brother dumped in 1971. Long before he was convicted of 3 murders and 8 life sentences with no possibility of parole – he was still in federal prison in North Carolina – Kaczynski lived had running water or electricity, and so Copley and crew managed with limited means.

“We were with these real Montana guys who would help us sleigh rides, take deer up the mountains. These people can really plan with everything. How do you skin a rabbit? How do you skin a deer? How do you cook it? How do you cut it out? And we were like, ‘Oh, we’re going to order Uber food.’ I can shoot. I can ride a snowmobile, which is very helpful. I haven’t even cut a tree with an ax yet. These lumberjacks showed me how you cut down a tree because in the movie I destroyed a telephone pole, and I actually cut that thing down.”

But learning how to gut and skin a rabbit, he says, is “the hairs on the back of my head. It’s like the cutest bunny imaginable, this little white bunny. I loved rabbits as a child. That was probably the hardest thing I had to do. It’s dead already but I was like, oh my gosh, I really have to go somewhere else. This is your DNA somewhere. If you were starving, you would kill this thing, no problem,” he said.

As for who killed that off-camera rabbit, Copley said, “I don’t know. You don’t want to know. You don’t ask”.

Ted KY

“Ted K”


Copley is present in almost every frame of “Ted K” as Kaczynski plots a plot against the outside world, which is encroaching on his mountain sanctuary. Small acts of vandalism turned into deadly bombings, capturing national attention and undoubtedly one of the greatest manhunts of all time, leading to his arrest by the FBI in 2016. 1996. Much of the story and voiceover is built from Kaczynski’s own diaries and puzzling manifesto of nature-centered anarchy.

So how did Copley get close to such a disturbing public figure? “Many people in Hollywood are very judgmental about [playing] other people or public figures. For me, the real job is to look deeply into human nature, and you can’t be too judgmental about the characters, especially if you’re a character actor,” said Copley.

While Copley has mostly enjoyed the field of character actors, with smaller roles in films like “Maleficent” and Spike Lee’s remake of “Old Boy,” taking on the lead role for “Ted K” has encourages some introspection – and even empathy for the Unabomber himself.

“I realized that, when I read the manifesto and read a lot of his notes, I really cared deeply about what was happening to the environment,” Copley said. “I am extremely worried about the extent to which technology is controlling my life and I feel very helpless in that situation. It’s not too much of a strain to relate to from a fiction perspective. “

Copley notes that what really drove the former pacifist Kaczynski into a rage against deforestation and killing of its practitioners was that “he was always hiking. There was a very sacred piece of land, and one day he came and they were building a road through it. On that day he said, ‘I said a prayer to the spirit of spring that I would avenge what was done to the forest.’

Copley added, “You’ve really gone into this dimension of, ‘You’re attacking this whole system, this whole community of living things, and I’m going to strike back.” He started with just vandalizing logging equipment. He didn’t start with a big mission to kill people.”

Since “Ted K” is essentially a one-man show, Copley has to spend a lot of time getting mad at the world and being skeptical of those around him, as his hygiene and mental state deteriorate. the worse. But for Copley, it was easy to “flip the switch” when the camera stopped spinning. But while he doesn’t follow the exact method, Copley tries to keep Kaczynski’s state of mind as reverent as possible.

Ted KY

“Ted K”


“I wanted to live in the cabin, and then I realized that I really needed the resources. I’m training dialects. I have read and researched. I live in the voice, and Tony told me [that] he didn’t want me to do the laundry because Ted hadn’t done it in months. The smell is very special. I had about four days left and I was like, ‘Eh, I need to take a shower,’ Copley said. “I can’t really do that with the people working around me. He was like, ‘It will make them feel uncomfortable!’ I do not want that. I do not need it “.

Working from 10,000 pages of diary entries, three autobiographies and Kaczynski’s manifesto, Copley says it’s not enough to work with an imitation. “You don’t know what his manners are. I just felt his energy for what he said. He has been deeply misunderstood because of the way he is portrayed in the media, which is very one-sided,” said Copley, who added that he would “would love” to meet the man.

One of the people Copley spoke to in preparation for the role was the librarian, Kaczynski’s “main friend” of Lincoln, Montana. “When I asked her, ‘What do you remember most about him?’ She spent a lot of time with him. And she was like, ‘His sense of humour.’ I said, OK, wow, that’s not what I expected from the Unabomber. “

Copley said “his mind is still reeling to this day” about how Kaczynski allowed himself to be arrested by the FBI. “He had another cabin a few miles away in a thicket that was hard to get to, and that was where he did most of his bomb-making. So when they actually caught him… It was only because they had all the evidence in his cabin. He was fried for that. It’s really like you pulled one last bank heist, people were looking for you for 19 years and spent $50 million, and when they found you, you had $8 million under your bed. “.

DISTRICT 9, Sharlto Copley (left), 2009. © Sony Pictures Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection

“District 9”

Sony Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

As for what’s next for Copley, he’ll be starring in the mysterious next season of Netflix’s dark time travel comedy “Russian Doll” (he might say “absolutely nothing”) . He’s also deeply involved in the scripting phase with Blomkamp in the long-awaited sequel to “District 9,” the popular 2009 alien sci-fi fable that won the nominations. Nominated for Best Picture in 2010 and grossed over $210 million after $30 – million budget. Why wait so long?

“I’ve wanted to do it ever since we did it for the first time. Neill is really getting close to what kind of world the world is going on. And it feels like he has something to say again. We threw back and forth the drafts and hoped to get close to something we could do that would have some relevance,” he said.

Copley said that not immediately launching a “District 9” sequel after the first, was a sort of Blomkamp rebellion. “There is definitely a version of Neill who could have left it there. He won’t want to make money just for the money. There was a lot we could have explored in that world right after, but it was his project, and his baby, and he really wasn’t a typical Hollywood guy.” .

“Ted K” opens in theaters and digital on February 18.

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