Robert Redford to direct historical crime drama The Conspirator

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Robert Redford is developing and will direct a film titled The Conspirator, a historical crime drama about Mary Suratt, according to THR. Suratt was one of the conspirators convicted of plotting President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. James Solomon (The Bronx is Burning) wrote the script.

According to official history, widow and boarding house owner Mary Suratt was a Confederate sympathizer in mid-19th century Washington, and supplied weapons to assassin John Wilkes Booth and his accomplice David Herold as they left to kill the U.S. President. The film is expected to focus on the Union hero Frederick Aiken, who was assigned to defend her and his growing conviction that she might be innocent. The period immediately after the Lincoln assassination was considered extremely volatile, with the country on the cusp of again falling into civil war. That period will provide the backdrop for Redford’s tale.

Producers are currently casting the project, with James McAvoy (Wanted) said to be on the short list for a lead role.

The report also noted other Lincoln projects under development, including the Steven Spielberg-directed biopic Lincoln, which has been stalled for a long time at DreamWorks, as well as HBO’s story about the search for Wilkes Booth after he pulled the trigger, based on James Swanson’s Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer. That project originally had Harrison Ford attached to star, but its status is not known.