Killing Lincoln

National Geographic Channel’s new film Killing Lincoln explores a key part of the 16th president’s story that Steven Spielberg’s big screen hit largely passed over.

Based on Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s bestselling book, Killing Lincoln chronicles the final days of President Lincoln (Billy Campbell) and the plot by his assassin John Wilkes Booth (Jesse Johnson). Below is the first trailer for the movie, which debuts next month.

Killing Lincoln spends time portraying both men as it builds toward, as narrator Tom Hanks puts it, “the most resonant crime in the history of the nation,” and then chronicles the extensive manhunt to bring Booth to justice. The show’s auspices are quite impressive. In addition to Hanks, Killing Lincoln is produced by Ridley and Tony Scott (the latter having joined the production before his death last year) and is directed by Adrian Moat (Gettysburg). “This is really the Lincoln story you’ve never seen before,” Ridley Scott says.

Killing Lincoln marks Nat Geo’s first scripted drama. Here’s the debut preview. There’s a couple brief interview snippets with the actors and producers, but the home stretch of the two-minute video is a theatrical-style trailer:

Below, some previously released quotes from Johnson and Campbell about their performances:

“The prevailing image of Booth is one of a two-dimensional, mustache-twirling villain,” Johnson says. “My job was to dig deeper. Show that he was as complex as a Shakespearean character he portrayed on the stage. Demonstrate the artistry, obsession and Southern rigor as well as the virulent disdain for an ‘inferior’ president that culminated into his own bloody, one-act play.”

Adds Campbell: “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.”