A lot like his creative partner Neill Blomkamp, Sharlto Copley’s career hasn’t lived up to what District 9 promised from the two. In Copley’s case, he has been cast consistently in scenery-chewing roles that have him playing either psychotic villains or crazy badasses. Or a friendly killer robot. I can’t fault an actor for going down the rabbit hole of typecasting. Villainous roles are always fun, meaty, and available if you have the chops. Also, let’s face it, there’s always something scary about Afrikaners, low-hanging fruit for Hollywood.
But what made Copley’s characterization of Wikus so poignant was how he went from an obnoxious nice-guy bureaucrat to a broken and vulnerable victim of the very system he upheld. Those aren’t chops you get to flex in something like Hardcore Henry or Maleficent.
However, Sharlto Copley seems to have finally found a role that matches his energy: Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. Directed by Tony Stone, an independent filmmaker and cultural manager, Ted K switches the focus from previous adaptations, focused on the manhunt, to a character study of the man himself, isolated in his infamous cabin. It is worth asking if the trailer is sympathetic to him, with its beautiful use of colors and landscapes being destroyed by human exploitation? It remains to be seen. Perhaps that’s what Sharlto Copley could bring out of the character, both the spiraling into his sociopathic, aimless bombing-spree, but also the brilliant mind whose ecological concerns were … kinda well-founded. After all, most studies showed he was more than lucid. Tony Stone has already won rave reviews with Peter and the Farm, a documentary on another rugged loner, so this looks promising. At the very least, with a better release strategy, there would be Oscar-buzz around Sharlto’s performance.
Ted K will be available on VOD and in “select theaters” (so, no theaters) on February 18th.