Timing a real killer
THE release of docu-drama Killing Lincoln could not have come at a better, or possibly worse, time for US actor Billy Campbell.
Campbell plays Abraham Lincoln in the two-hour documentary about the assassination of US president which debuts on Wednesday.
It is based on the best-selling book Killing Lincoln, by Bill O’Reilly, about the 1865 assassination of the president.
Campbell knows his portrayal of the 16th US president will be compared with Daniel DayLewis’s in the new film Lincoln. It doesn’t help the British actor won the Best Actor Oscar last month for his role.
Campbell has yet to see Lincoln but he is grateful the movie was released after Killing Lincoln wrapped up in the middle of last year.
‘‘I’m not one who gives a whole lot of thought to what other folks are doing,’’ says Campbell. ‘‘That said, I probably would not have gone to see it ( Lincoln) if it was out. It’s pretty good timing that it’s out now. I haven’t seen the Lincoln film, but I understand the two things might be highly complementary.’’
It never dawned on Campbell that he would ever be called on to play Abraham Lincoln.
When the call did come through, he momentarily laughed it off before having second thoughts about the prospect of playing one of the most famous historical figures.
‘‘When I was asked, I had a chuckle about it as I hadn’t walked around thinking of myself as Lincoln-esque,’’ Campbell says.
‘‘Then I thought about it, and started thinking it might work.’’
Killing Lincoln focuses on the plots and attempts on the president’s life leading up to and including the shooting at Ford’s Theatre.
It was filmed in Virginia in the US – not far from where Campbell grew up as a civil war buff.
‘‘Growing up in Richmond, you knew a lot about Civil War battles because 80 per cent of Civil War battles were fought in Virginia,’’ Campbell says. ‘‘So I was a Civil War buff and you can’t be one of those without knowing a fair amount about Abraham Lincoln.’’
Narrated by Tom Hanks, the docu-drama is very heavy on historical detail and stays as true as possible to O’Reilly’s book.
‘‘I don’t believe they touch on the assassination, or barely touch on it (in Lincoln),’’ Campbell says.
‘‘If you want to find out on the assassination, tune in to ours.’’
Sundays, 6.30pm, National Geographic Channel.
Billy Campbell stars in