The Conspirator explores the national reaction to Lincoln’s assassination in the aftermath of what was the most shocking murder in US history. Seven men and one woman are arrested and charged with conspiring to kill the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State. The woman, Mary Surratt [Robin Wright], owns a boarding house where John Wilkes Booth [Toby Kebbell] and others met and planned the simultaneous attacks. Frederick Aiken [James McAvoy], a 28-year-old Union war-hero, reluctantly agrees to defend Surratt before a military tribunal, convened and manipulated by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton [Kevin Kline]. As the nation turns against her, Surratt is forced to rely on Aiken to uncover the truth and save her life.
Director Robert Redford brought Production Designer Kalina Ivanov and Set Decorator Melissa Levander SDSA to Savannah, Georgia to help convey the nation’s capital at the end of the Civil War and during a moment of hobbled civil liberties. Levander responds to comments by Redford, Ivanov and the film’s producers.
Exteriors in Savannah…
“We had to duplicate Washington in 1865 and we certainly couldn’t afford to build it. We scouted all up and down the eastern seaboard and found Savannah to be the best option. It has that old center part of town that has been pretty well retained and preserved. The buildings look the way they did in the 1800s. So we could use the buildings–we just had to cover all the streets with dirt and mulch. Everything was muddy, because there were carriages and horses and no pavement.” –Director Robert Redford