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James McAvoy and Robin Wright Penn Join The Conspirator

by
September 14, 2009

James McAvoy and Robin Wright Penn

Though he might be more known for his iconic performances, Robert Redford has certainly made a name for himself working behind the camera as well. Back in August it was announced that Redford would return to the director's chair for the historical drama The Conspirator.  Now Variety reports that James McAvoy and Robin Wright Penn have officially joined the cast.  Wright will play the title character Mary Surratt, alleged conspirator of Abraham Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth while McAvoy will play Frederick Aiken, a young war hero who reluctantly defends Surratt comes to believe that she is indeed innocent.

Mary Surratt was a Washington D.C. boardinghouse owner who sympathized with the Confederates. She was allegedly part of the plot to kill Lincoln, supplying Wilkes Booth and his accomplice David Herold weapons at her tavern after the assassin had shot the president at Ford's Theater. She was eventually convicted and sentenced to death by hanging, being the first woman executed by the United States federal government.

I can't immediately recall any prominent film that has focused around the events leading up to or even surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, so this one sounds like an interesting historical piece, especially since it looks like it's going to be forever until Steven Spielberg gets his Lincoln picture off the ground. Redford's most recent film Lions for Lambs was a lackluster feature that was basically a three act play posing as a motion picture, but his previous conspiracy-like flick Quiz Show is a solid film. Hopefully we see a few more talented actors eventually join the cast of The Conspirator as well. What do you think?

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