James McAvoy And Robin Wright Penn Join Robert Redford's 'The Conspirator'

Steven Spielberg has long planned an Abraham Lincoln-centric biopic, but it looks like actor-director Robert Redford is going to beat the "Indiana Jones" filmmaker to the punch. However, where Spielberg's vision purported to tell of Lincoln's life, Redford is instead focusing squarely on the slavery abolishing president's death.

Variety reports that Robert Redford will direct actors James McAvoy and Robin Wright Penn in "The Conspirator," the American Film Company-produced period piece that focuses on the aftermath of President Lincoln's assassination.

In the movie, McAvoy will play Frederick Aiken, an idealistic young war hero who comes to the defense of Mary Surratt (Wright Penn), the lone female member of a group accused of conspiring to kill the president. Skeptical of Surratt at first, Aiken eventually becomes convinced of the woman's innocence.

The Redford-directed film is based on a true story, which American Film Company's Joe Rickets described to Variety as "more compelling than fiction... Mary Surratt's trial is a powerful, relevant story."

McAvoy was previously named in connection with "The Conspirator," though today's announcement brings the first official word of his casting. It's unclear how filming on this project will effect McAvoy's work on "Wanted 2," the upcoming sequel to the Timur Bekmambetov-directed comic book pseudo-adaptation. Both movies are expected to shoot in 2010.

"The Conspirator" marks the first directorial work from Robert Redford since 2007's "Lions for Lambs," another war-minded film that starred Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep and Redford himself.

What do you think of the talent attached to "The Conspirator"? How about the premise? Let us know what you think of the movie in the comments or on Twitter!