James McAvoy turns his piercing blue eyes (c’mon, we all know it’s true) towards defending a woman charged with collaborating with John Wilkes Booth to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln in the 19th century courtroom drama, The Conspirator.

Robert Redford’s name has been popping up in the news of late, what with the 2011 Sundance Film Festival going on, and now an official trailer for his next directorial effort, The Conspirator, is online.

X-Men: First Class‘ Charles Xavier (McAvoy) stars in The Conspirator as Frederick Aiken, a 28-year-old Civil War vet who fought for the Union, but is now a lawyer tasked with defending Mary Surratt (Robin Wright) – the owner of a boarding house where over half a dozen men assembled to (allegedly) plan out the murder of the 16th U.S. president. What the court, not having access to Lincoln’s personal diaries, fails to realize is that this was actually all just the work of a lone blood-sucking creature of the night with a vendetta against Honest Abe for slaughtering his brethren. :-P (That’s an Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter joke for those wondering.)

The Conspirator boasts quite the impressive and eclectic collection of thespians, including McAvoy, Wright, Oscar-nominee Tom Wilkinson, Oscar-winner Kevin Kline, and Evan Rachel Wood (The Ides of March), along with more mainstream names like Justin Long (Live Free or Die Hard) and Alexis Bledel of Gilmore Girls fame. And yes Scott Pilgrim fans, that is Young Neil ( a.k.a. actor Johnny Simmons) as Mrs. Surratt’s son/Lincoln assassination conspirator, John Surratt.

Watch the trailer for The Conspirator (courtesy of Yahoo! Movies) below:

Cinematic courtroom procedurals are generally romanticized and tend to feature the sort of behavior that makes for entertaining (if hammy) drama on the big screen, but would never be tolerated in a real-life trial setting. The Conspirator looks to have embraced that genre cliché, for better or worse, as the trailer alone features upwards of dozen scenes in which people cry out in protest or make meaningful statements in a weighty but exaggerated tone while court is in session.

The Conspirator does look like it has potential, what with the intriguing subject matter, accomplished cast, and Oscar-winner Redford at the helm – not to mention the solid production design, costumes (lots of fake beards and suits in this one), and lighting of the footage on display. Whether it will make for a much more engaging affair than Redford’s last film, Lions for Lambs, remains to be seen.

The Conspirator arrives in U.S. theaters on April 15th, 2011.

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