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Jack Huston plays the 'ultimate sociopath' in 'Manhunt'

Jack Huston (R) plays Eric Rudolph in Manhunt: Deadly Games. Photo courtesy of Spectrum
Jack Huston (R) plays Eric Rudolph in "Manhunt: Deadly Games." Photo courtesy of Spectrum

Feb. 3 (UPI) -- The miniseries Manhunt: Deadly Games tells the story of the 1996 Olympics bombing from the false suspicions of Richard Jewell (Cameron Britton) to the pursuit of bomber Eric Rudolph (Jack Huston).

Huston felt that, despite Rudolph's prolific manifesto writing, the bomber did not actually believe in a cause.

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"I truly wanted to portray him as a man who doesn't give a [expletive] about anybody but himself," Huston told UPI in an interview. "He is the epitome of the sociopath. Hopefully, by the the last episode, one really does see how morally moribund the man is."

Jewell discovered Rudolph's bomb in Centennial Olympic Park on July 27, 1996. Initially, the FBI suspected Jewell of planting the bomb so that he could be the hero to discover it. The Department of Justice made Rudolph a suspect on Feb. 14, 1998. The series shows Rudolph hiding in the Nantahala Forest before his capture in 2003.

"He hid years' worth of food in these big bins and hid them up in the trees all around," Huston said. "He planted things all over. He had his caves. The man was exceptional at deception, at evasion."

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Even during his trial for the bombing of Centennial Park and several abortion clinics, there were no videos of Rudolph for Huston to research or audio recordings to study his voice. Huston did not ask to visit Rudolph in prison.

"I don't want to sit opposite that guy," Huston said. "He's written so much and there has been so much written about him that I also don't know if I would have trusted sitting opposite him."

Rudolph published Between the Lines of Drift: The Memoirs of a Militant in 2013, and the anti-abortion website Army of God published other Rudolph manifestos. Huston read them and questioned Rudolph's motivation.

"It feels like he's writing for somebody," Huston said. "It doesn't feel like he's writing honestly. It feels like he's writing a work of fiction."

The white supremacist group Christian Identity helped Rudolph live in the woods by providing supplies. Rudolph had members convinced he supported their cause.

"He says he was doing these things for a basically a government that he didn't believe in," Huston said. "He was doing it to save the killing of babies. He was anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-X, Y and Z. He thought the government was corrupted. I never fully bought his mission statements. To kill to prevent killing in itself is a horrific contradiction."

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Besides the inherent contradiction in bombing to save other lives, Huston suspected Rudolph's mission was not even a matter of conviction.

"What we decided was it was a God complex," Huston said. "It was almost like him wanting celebrity. He would use anything, any excuse to get it, as well. He would turn on anybody and stab anybody in the back for self-preservation. He was the ultimate sociopath."

Manhunt: Deadly Games features 10 hour-long episodes and the beginning focuses on Richard Jewell. Viewers will not see Rudolph until the third episode, on the run, and won't spend a full episode with him in the woods until the sixth.

"As the show progresses, you sort of realize that the first five are more concentrated on Richard and the back five more on the manhunt on Eric and what he was doing," Huston said. "For the second half of it, we tried to get really deep into his character."

Huston said he felt isolated filming in the woods, despite having a television crew with him.

"It was a dark time, going out and spending a lot of time in the woods on my own, in one's own head, really digging deep," Huston said.

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Once Manhunt wrapped, Huston said it was difficult to get Rudolph out of his head.

"It's quite hard, as an actor, to shake a character when you're deep in it," Huston said. "So you're going home and you're living with someone, especially someone as deplorable as Eric Rudolph. He gets under your skin and it was dark."

Had he met Rudolph in prison, Huston worried he would have lingered even longer.

"I think if I had gone and sat with him, I don't think I would have been able to shake him completely," Huston said.

Manhunt: Deadly Games premieres Monday on Spectrum.

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