Tim­ing a real killer

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

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

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