Groff plays the role of Louis Weichman in a cast that also boasts James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Alexis Bledel, Badge Dale, Danny Huston, Toby Kebbell, Kevin Kline, Justin Long, Colm Meaney, Stephen Root, Tom Wilkinson and Evan Rachel Wood.
The thriller, which explores the national reaction to Lincoln's assassination, features direction by Academy Award winner Redford and a screenplay by James Solomon.
"The movie's about all of the people that were involved in the assassination of President Lincoln," Groff recently told Playbill.com. "It's the story of Mary Surratt, who ran the home where all of these people were hanging out, and it's the story of her trial. And my character, Louis Weichman, who is a real person — it's just one-and-a-half scenes in the movie, but in my big scene, I get put on the witness stand. … I loved the scene that I got to do. It was so much fun. James McAvoy is her lawyer, and he's one of my favorite actors working today. I actually saw him in the West End two years ago, doing Three Days of Rain, and he was so amazing in that. I'd seen him in movies before that, but seeing him in that play, I was like, 'Whoa, this guy is phenomenal.' And so, I was so excited to get to work with him … And he's asking me questions, and I'm on the witness stand, and I'm this seemingly sort of innocent [young man], studying to be a pastor — I had no idea what was going on when they were conspiring to [assassinate Lincoln], and then [I] get slightly caught into a lie, and then you think that maybe I knew what was going on, but then my lawyer comes in and saves the day...I had such a good time working on that movie because I got to go down to Savannah, Georgia, for a couple of days, and act with James McAvoy and get to meet Robert Redford, who directed it."
About working with Academy Award winner Redford, Groff said, "I only worked with him for a day and a half, … but the sense that I got from him from that day and a half was that he was just really laid-back and really easygoing and really actor-friendly. He just let me do what I had prepared. He sort of lets you do what you do, I think. He's really, really nice, really easy-going and really a laid-back, kind, gentle, no-ego kind of guy."
"In the wake of Abraham Lincoln's assassination," studio notes state, "seven men and one woman are arrested and charged with conspiring to kill the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State. The lone woman charged, Mary Surratt (Robin Wright), 42, owns a boarding house where John Wilkes Booth (Toby Kebbell), 26, and others met and planned the simultaneous attacks. Against the ominous back-drop of post-Civil War Washington, newly-minted lawyer Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy), a 28-year-old Union war-hero, reluctantly agrees to defend Surratt before a military tribunal. Aiken realizes his client may be innocent and that she is being used as bait and hostage in order to capture the only conspirator to have escaped a massive manhunt, her own son, John (Johnny Simmons). As the nation turns against her, Surratt is forced to rely on Aiken to uncover the truth and save her life." Director Redford states, "The film deals with the harsh efforts to keep the political polarization of the time from worsening. The country was deeply divided, not just North and South, but also between those in government who wanted to place post-war punishments and restrictions on the defeated South that would cause suffering and resentment among the Confederates and those, like Lincoln, who wanted a more moderate, conciliatory reconstruction."
About the guilt or innocence of central character Mary Surratt, screenwriter Solomon says, "There's no question in my mind that Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War, and Joseph Holt, the Judge Advocate General thought she was guilty and there's no question in my mind that her defense lawyer, Frederick Aiken, thought she was innocent. Perhaps the truth is somewhere between both points of view and I think that's sort of where I would like it to be, because the ambiguity is the most truthful."
"The Conspirator" is being produced by The American Film Company in association with Roadside Attractions.