The 'Manhunt' Trailer Turns the Lincoln Assassination Into a True Crime Thriller

 Lili Taylor and Tobias Menzies in "Manhunt"

 Lili Taylor and Tobias Menzies in "Manhunt"

(Photo: Apple TV+)

As part of its presentation during the kick-off of the Television Critics Association 2024 winter press tour, Apple TV+ released the trailer for Manhunt, its upcoming high-octane historical drama that turns the aftermath of the Lincoln assassination into a true crime mystery. 

Everyone knows who killed Abraham Lincoln. Heck, most people know who the culprit was as soon as the president was shot. (He did, after all, leap down to the stage at Ford's Theater and declare vengeance in the name of the South, who had just surrendered and ended the American Civil War.) But far fewer people likely know what happened after the dramatic events of that night in April 1865 or the scale of the search that was launched to track down and capture Booth. 

Manhunt aims to change all that. Based on James L. Swanson's bestselling book, Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer, the seven-part drama is being touted as a "true crime limited series," and if the trailer's anything to go by, that's likely not an unfair description. After shooting Lincoln, Booth escaped out the back door of Ford's Theater, ultimately leading authorities and the U.S. Army on a chase through Maryland and Virginia that lasted for the better part of two weeks. (Despite a $100,000 reward being offered for his capture, which would have been roughly the equivalent of almost 2 million dollars today.) He was eventually cornered in a farmhouse in Port Royal, near Fredericksburg, where he was shot while refusing to surrender. He died on the property. 

Tobias Menzies (The Crown ) leads a remarkably Brit-heavy cast as Edward Stanton, Lincoln's Secretary of War and close friend, who helped hold the government together and launched the search for Booth as the president lay dying. Set against a backdrop of fear and uncertainty — many in Washington believed the shooting heralded an invasion from reconstituted Confederate forces —Manhunt explores the personal and political ramifications of Lincoln's murder, for Stanton and the country at large. 

Here's the series' logline. 

Based on The New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-winning non-fiction book from author James L. Swanson, “Manhunt” is a conspiracy thriller about one of the best known but least understood crimes in history, the astonishing story of the hunt for John Wilkes Booth in the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. 

Alongside Menzies, the cast includes Anthony Boyle (Masters of the Air) as John Wilkes Booth, Hamish Linklater (Midnight Mass) as Abraham Lincoln, Lili Taylor (Perry Mason) as Mary Todd Lincoln, Matt Walsh (Ghosts) as Dr. Samuel Mudd,  Lovie Simone (Greenleaf) as Mary Simm, Brandon Flynn (Ratched) as Eddie Stanton, Jr., Damian O'Hare (1923) as Thomas Eckert, Will Harrison (Daisy Jones & the Six) as Booth's accomplice David Herold, Patton Oswalt (The Sandman) as Union spy Lafayette Baker, and Glenn Morshower (The Resident).

Manhunt is created by Emmy nominee Monica Beletsky (Fargo), who also serves as showrunner and executive producer. Emmy nominee Carl Franklin (Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story) directed the series' first two episodes and is an executive producer. Swanson also executive produces, alongside Michael Rotenberg, Richard Abate, Frank Smith,and Naia Cucukov. 

The series is produced by Apple Studios and co-produced by Lionsgate Television, in association with POV Entertainment, Walden Media, 3 Arts Entertainment, Dovetale Productions, and Monarch Pictures.

Manhunt will premiere globally on Apple TV+ on Friday, March 15 with two episodes. Additional installments will debut weekly through April 19. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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