Premiering on Sunday, February 17, National Geographic Channel’s first original scripted drama, Killing Lincoln, presents one of the most significant events in American history. With fresh historical insight, the film thrillingly chronicles the final days of President Lincoln and the treasonous plot by one the most notorious, yet complex villains of all time.
Narrated on camera by Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks, the film stars Billy Campbell (The Killing, Once and Again) as Lincoln and introduces Jesse Johnson in a breakthrough performance as John Wilkes Booth. Produced by Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Productions, the film adapts Bill O’Reilly’s best-selling book into a two-hour international television event. Additional cast includes Geraldine Hughes as Mary Todd Lincoln, Graham Beckel as Edwin Stanton, who served as secretary of war under the Lincoln administration, and Shawn Pyfrom as Private John W. Nichols. Killing Lincoln is directed by director Adrian Moat (Gettysburg), written by Emmy Award-winning writer/executive producer Erik Jendresen (Band of Brothers) and produced by Mark Herzog’s Herzog & Co. (Gettysburg).
Killing Lincoln has all the components of a thrilling crime novel: conspiracy, public assassination, an unprecedented manhunt. It is both an electrifying look at a shadowy scheme cultivated during the rapid-fire succession of closing Civil War events and a wrenching journey to understand a reviled “madman.”
With the North all but assured of victory after four years of war, Southern stalwart John Wilkes Booth is plotting vengeance. He views President Lincoln as a tyrant eager to eradicate not just slavery, but the Southern way of life. He launches a clandestine plot to kidnap the president and spirit him away to the South – an under-the-cover-of-darkness mission that ultimately fails. But out of that failure comes a dastardly new plan: to kill President Lincoln. Booth’s ultimate success in murder would shock a nation and spark the largest manhunt in the United States’ young history.
“Lincoln is so adored, so universally revered today that it’s easy to forget he was a controversial president – one with many enemies – in fact he repeatedly dreamt of his own assassination. We felt it important to convey this hidden side of Lincoln, this sense of his almost wasting away with premonitions of death, even as he was outwardly so poised and steadfast through the closing of the war,” said Billy Campbell (Lincoln)
With palpable tension, the production dramatically counts down the president’s last days and actions leading up to the April 14 assassination at Ford’s Theatre and concludes with the aftermath of his murder.