Steven Spielberg’s accomplishments as a filmmaker have made him an icon in the entertainment industry. And now the Academy Award winning director-producer adds Lincoln to his credits. The movie is about the events surrounding the last days of the Civil War and how President Abraham Lincoln changed the history of the United States. It is a credit to Spielberg that he has humanized the iconic Lincoln and created a very relevent movie.
The history lesson drama covers the president’s tumultuous final months, and focuses on Lincoln’s greatest accomplishments and greatest flaws. One might question the nickname “Honest Abe” after seeing this film. But that serves to make him a very real man on the big screen, portrayed by the much-awarded actor Daniel Day Lewis.
On the heels of Spielberg’s film comes another excellent project that tackles the 16th President’s final days. The in-depth scripted documentary-drama Killing Lincoln premieres February 17 on the National Geographic Channel. It is narrated by Tom Hanks and based on the bestseller by Bill O’Reilly. And it offers fresh historical insight giving minute by minute accounts of the events before and after the assasination of the man who saved the union.
Billy Campbell plays Lincoln with great skill, and surprisingly says he felt no weight on his shoulders to give depth to his performance following Day Lewis’ award-winning film role. “The script was so brilliant and so deep in its own way, that it was all there on the page. I felt very safe and in the hands of some obviously very passionate people who wanted to do Killing Lincoln in the right way. So I felt nearly no pressure at all.”
Campbell actually has been immersed in this era of history since he grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia, and took part in Civil War re-enactments from the tender age of four. He hung out at Monticello, and in a way he was born to do the role. But he sheepishly admits that he re-enacted for the Confederacy, “because I was part of the 19th Virginia Rifles. But a lot of us flip-flopped re-enacting. I had uniforms for the Union as well.”
The NatGeo production was written by executive producer Erik Jendresen, and directed by Andrian Moa (Gettysburg) on location in and around Richmond, Virginia. Jesse Johnson plays John Wilkes Booth, and Geraldine Hughes is Mary Todd Lincoln.