What was it like working with James McAvoy and Robin Wright?

James is a very talented person. He’s got incredible energy.  And he applies that energy in 150 percent full force.  I knew I wasn’t going to have to pull anything out of him. He’s just going to give it to you right off the bat which was a pleasure. He’s also smart.  He was determined to make sure that whatever he was doing was accurate and made sense. He has a good story sense, and really understood how his character fit into the overall storyline.

Robin enveloped her role the way I imagine she does most roles.  She inhabits them on a deep level. I knew that I wanted her to play the role of Mary Surratt because I trust her instincts as an actor. I knew she would bring real depth and gravitas to a complicated character, without anything extraneous or distracting.  And that’s what she did.

Robert Redford

About Robert Redford

Director Robert Redford offers his insight into the talent, themes, and making of The Conspirator, now in theaters (April 15).
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9 Responses to What was it like working with James McAvoy and Robin Wright?

  1. Craig Hendricks says:

    I enjoyed the film very much, and I saw it with an audience of several dozen history teachers who also enjoyed the film and found it very accurate and engaging. One thought that kept coming back to me was the subtext of recent events in terms of secret prisons, violations of constitutional norms and the use of authority to squelch any contrary opinions. I realize that the Supreme Court had barely begun the process of nationalizing the Bill of Rights in 1865, yet the prosecutor’s comment about the law becoming silent during wartime seemed very contemporary to me.

  2. Beth says:

    Ms. Wright WAS Mrs. Suratt – we saw this film at the start of Holy Week and our discussion afterward was about the sacrifices she and Mr. Aiken made – her’s a mother’s for her child, his, a man for his own soul. Thank you for bringing this story to light.

  3. Theodore C. Setaro, Jr. says:

    Having studied this Mary Surratt conviction for six years now, there were so many events that happened that just could not fit into the movie due to time constraints. However, it was beautifully done and Ms. Wright and Mr. McAvoy deserve accolades to present such a moving, accurate and real to life depiction of what these parties actually went through and the reverberations that followed. A job well done on the actors and Mr. Redford was had by all.

    • Blanca says:

      For fifty years artist and hisiarton George Stuart of Ojai, CA has been entertaining audiences with his monologs and Historical Figures of Lincoln, Booth, Stanton and many other Civil War Era players. His depiction of Lincoln and Booth at the Ford Theater is particularly moving. Please visit our on line.Many of these Historical Figures are currently on exhibit at the William J. Clinton Presidential Center Library in Little Rock.We are look forward to seeing Conspirator.

  4. jackie martin says:

    A most riveting performance by the cast, and James McAvoy WAS his character. He is an extraordinary actor, and brought so much depth to that character and film. I have been studying this subject for years, and the movie stayed pretty close to the realism of the times.

  5. D. Fukuyama says:

    Whether Mr. Redford plans to distribute this excellent film to Japan and to Europe? It will likely be very popular in Japan, as the Japanese like historical epics, especially with tragic endings, such as in Greek tragedy. Likewise, I believe the film will be more popular in Europe than in the US, just as the film about Hitler, Valkyrie was much more widely accepted in foreign countries than in the US.

    I hope he does. I am a lawyer and this film makes me proud to be one.

    • Laurie Verge says:

      The opening sentences of Aiken’s long, closing remarks are just as beautiful on paper as they are when spoken by James McAvoy. He refers eloquently to the duty of the lawyer being the same as the duty of a soldier – to protect citizens.

      Christine Christensen is the one that we can thank for recently filling in most of the holes in Aiken’s biography. In her research, she discovered that Frederick Aiken lies in an unmarked grave in Washington’s famous Oak Hill Cemetery (the same cemetery where Stanton is interred).

      It is Christine’s wish that someone take charge of a movement to mark Aiken’s grave, using those opening words of his summation.

      A year ago, Surratt House Museum spearheaded a similar project which placed a marker on the grave of Elizabeth Keckly, modiste and confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln – a lady who bought her freedom and that of her son and rose to acceptance in the White House and a champion of her newly-freed people. I hesitate to undertake a fundraising project again, so soon after Mrs. Keckly’s — but Fred Aiken does deserve a monument.

    • Peraya says:

      I found Robert Redford’s film an intriguing execrise of examing history with fresh approach in scripting a unique re-telling of the events surrounding the Lincoln assasination. His cast was steller. They defined and strengthened the drama of Mary Surratt. Hollywood has a long history of distorting America’s past .The Conspirator gives me hope that accuracy and entertainment can be a successful partnership.

  6. lin fox says:

    I live in Lebanon Oregon. We have not been able to fine a theather that is showing this movie in an 80 mile radius. Why?

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