The Conspirator | Chicago Reader

The Conspirator

Joe Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs, founded the American Film Company to produce historical dramas that actually stick to the facts, and the facts are more than enough in this somber, engrossing drama about the Lincoln assassination. James McAvoy stars as Frederick Aiken, a young attorney and former Union officer who reluctantly agrees to defend alleged conspirator Mary Surratt in a military trial and eventually concludes that she's being framed. The trumped-up case against her and the courtroom drama at the center of the movie are heavily reminiscent of Bruce Beresford's Breaker Morant (1980), but producer-director Robert Redford also notes the parallels between the Surratt case and our current military tribunals for terror suspects. He's assembled a strong cast—Robin Wright (as Surratt), Evan Rachel Wood, Tom Wilkinson, Danny Huston, Colm Meaney—though the real standout is Kevin Kline as secretary of war Edwin Stanton, who wants Surratt to hang for political reasons.



  • Robert Redford


  • James McAvoy
  • Robin Wright
  • Kevin Kline
  • Evan Wood
  • Danny Huston
  • Tom Wilkinson
  • Alexis Bledel
  • Justin Long
  • Colm Meaney
  • James Badge Dale
  • Johnny Simmons
  • Toby Kebbell
  • Jonathan Groff
  • Stephen Root


  • Robert Redford
  • Greg Shapiro
  • Bill Holderman
  • Brian Falk
  • Robert Stone
  • Joe Ricketts
  • Jeremiah Samuels
  • Webster Stone

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