The Ultimate Role: The Best Portrayals of Lincoln in Film, TV and on the Stage.
Catch The Suspenseful Thriller, Killing Lincoln,
on Blu-ray June 11th!
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Narrated by Oscar winner Tom Hanks* and produced by Tony Scott (Unstoppable, The A-Team) & Ridley Scott (Prometheus, American Gangster), KILLING LINCOLN delivers a thrilling perspective into the criminal mind of John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators. Watch the conspiracy unfold on Digital HD now and Blu-ray and DVD June 11 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment – just in time for Father’s Day!
Based on The New York Times best-selling novel, KILLING LINCOLN is the suspenseful, eye-opening account of the events surrounding the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. While some aspects of the plot to slay Lincoln and cripple the newly forming union are widely known, much more of the history unfolds in this insightful thriller. As John Wilkes Booth becomes increasingly obsessed with removing Lincoln from office, a secret faction of conspirators forms, and ultimately empowers Booth to carry out an event that will change America forever. Narrated by Oscar® Winner Tom Hanks* and produced by Tony Scott and Ridley Scott, this historical masterpiece stars Billy Campbell (TV’s The Killing) in a spectacular turn as President Lincoln.
*Actor: 1994, Forrest Gump; 1993, Philadelphia.
In recent months, high profile film and television projects have been released featuring the United States of America’s 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. There of course was Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, a biopic set in the last three months of his Presidency, featuring the Academy Award-winning performance by Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York, There Will Be Blood, Last of the Mohicans). Spielberg’s Lincoln followed Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a slightly different take on The President’s tenure in office, which opened in theaters last summer. These two projects will add to the list of nearly 300 film and television portrayals of the man labeled our greatest President.
Billy Campbell is uncanny as the beloved President in KILLING LINCOLN, which makes its debut on Blu-ray and DVD June 11th. Here’s a rundown some of the stand out portrayals of Lincoln in recent years.
1. Henry Fonda, (Young Mr. Lincoln, 1939)
Henry Fonda in “Young Mr. Lincoln”
1939 is considered a banner year for Hollywood, with classic films such as Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz among the greatest released that year. John Ford, considered by many to be the greatest of Western film directors, released two major films that year: Stagecoach (Which gave birth to the Western as we know it) and Young Mr. Lincoln. A fictionalized account of Lincoln’s days as a prairie lawyer, the film features a young Henry Fonda in one of his early screen roles. Fonda turns in a truly amazing performance as Lincoln, capturing the tenderness and humor that Lincoln is known for, while also showing how he would go on to become a shrewd lawyer and politician. Although not as well known as other films of its day, this truly captures the spirit of Lincoln in his formative years in Illinois.
2. Hal Holbrook (Sandburg’s Lincoln, 1974; North and South, 1985; North and South, Book II, 1986)
Hal Holbrook in "North and South"
Hal Holbrook is one of the few actors who portrayed Lincoln on film more than once. He first donned the stovepipe hat and beard for what has been called the first televised miniseries, Sandburg’s Lincoln, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography by Carl Sandburg. Holbrook truly did a magnificent job in the role, showing mostly Lincoln’s penchant for humor, while also showing his softer and political sides when needed. For his performance, Holbrook would win an Emmy Award for Best Actor. Eleven years after Lincoln, he would reprise the role for the adaptation of John Jakes’ bestselling novels North and South and Love and War, where he delivers a more tender portrayal of Lincoln during his time in office. Holbrook is also the only previous actor to portray Lincoln who starred in Spielberg’s Lincoln, as Francis Preston Blair.
3. Gregory Peck (The Blue and the Gray, 1982)
Gregory Peck in "The Blue and the Gray"
Gregory Peck, star of such classic films as Moby Dick, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Guns of Navarone, portrayed Lincoln for this 1982 miniseries. Although a relatively minor role in the series, Peck once again shines out above the rest of the cast, giving a truly memorable performance as Lincoln (His recitation of the Gettysburg Address is truly memorable). Peck felt himself too old to portray the character, but that did not stop him from turning in a fantastic performance.
4. Sam Waterston (Gore Vidal’s Lincoln, 1988; The Civil War, 1990)
Sam Waterston in "Gore Vidal's Lincoln"
Like Hal Holbrook, Sam Waterston (“Law and Order”) would portray Lincoln more than once. In 1988, he starred in the adaptation of Gore Vidal’s novel Lincoln, which looked at the more political side of our 16th President. Many feel Waterston’s portrayal in this miniseries is the most definitive Lincoln we have on film. Although he does show his humorous side, he also shows that Lincoln was a shrewd and powerful politician, able to handle his cabinet and others with great effectiveness. Waterston earned an Emmy nomination for his portrayal but he is best remembered for giving voice to Abraham Lincoln in Ken Burns’ classic documentary, The Civil War, which garnered tremendous critical acclaim, and high ratings for PBS. Waterston’s recitation of the Gettysburg Address is just one of the highlights in what is truly a remarkable document of our nation at war.
5. Fritz Klein (No Retreat from Destiny: The Battle that Rescued Washington, 2006)
Fritz Klein as Lincoln
A powerful but little-known film, No Retreat from Destiny depicts the events of July, 1864, when Jubal Early’s Confederate force nearly took Washington City, but a delaying action at Monocacy allowed time for Federal troops to defend the capital from invasion. The film features Fritz Klein, a well-known Lincoln actor, as the President, showing the resolve to win the war to the end, and refusing to leave the capital, despite the threat of Confederate invasion. Klein’s portrayal is subdued, but also shows the talent of a man who knows Lincoln inside and out, and gives the film’s best performance. Despite its miniscule $500,000 budget (Which shows at times), the performances and thrilling battle footage more than make up for it.
6. Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, 2012)
Mr. Walker plays Lincoln in 2012s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The film was a wild thrill ride as the President took on Vampires whilst not on his Presidential duties. Not the most authentic portrayal but certainly the most fun!
7. Daniel Day Lewis (Lincoln, 2012)
Often regarded as the greatest actor of our time, Daniel Day-Lewis plays the 16th president in Steven Spielberg’s biographical war drama Lincoln which opened at the end of last year and went on to earn Day Lewis his third Academy Award for Best Actor. Interestingly enough, Liam Neeson originally was considered by the role but pulled out back in 2010. Day Lewis however embodies the role; he lives and breathes the part bringing a performance so self-assured that it cannot be captured with words.