See the Cast of 'Manhunt' Compared to Their Real-Life Counterparts

manhunt cast versus real life
'Manhunt' Cast vs. Their Real-Life CounterpartsBettmann/Getty Images; Apple TV+

Hamish Linklater feels grateful that he had the opportunity to bring America's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, to life in the new Apple TV+ thriller Manhunt. "How lucky I was to play not just a public and historical hero, but certainly a personal hero," he tells T&C, and "how lucky I was to be to have the fantastic makeup artists and costume designers that built that silhouette."

He adds, "Monica Beletsky [the showrunner and creator] was very clear in our first meeting that she didn't want the Mount Rushmore Lincoln. She wanted to see the shuffling, folksy, guy in the shawl." (Yes, Lincoln frequently wore a shawl at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. As Linklater says, "It was cold in the White House! You needed to have an extra layer—his happened to be a shawl.") Lincoln "needed to be both president and folksy pal to get the job done," Linklater says. "He needed to be able to be a man who could deliver the Gettysburg Address and the second inaugural, and he also needed to be a guy who patted you on the back and told the dirty joke. Those virtues needed to be all contained within one person."

The show's focus isn't on Lincoln—though he does appear in flashbacks in every episode—but on the days following his assassination by John Wilkes Booth (played by Anthony Boyle), and how War Secretary Edwin Stanton (Tobias Menzies) led the search for Booth.

"This show takes place pre-electronics," Beletsky tells T&C, "and it was a time when language, conversation, wit is something that was a way to express power, and entertain each other. I feel that actors who have a dexterity with language lend themselves to period [dramas] a bit more." She adds, "I was looking for actors who had such a range of emotions and the ability to make us feel. I think my cast is just extraordinary, and they sell it in a very authentic way." Here, see how the cast of Manhunt compares to their real-life counterparts, from Lincoln to Stanton:

Tobias Menzies as Edwin Stanton

Menzies, who has starred in Outlander and The Crown seasons three and four, plays Stanton, Lincoln's Secretary of War who organizes the manhunt for Booth.

Beltsky decided to not have Menzies wear a beard to portray Stanton. "At the time, beards were very modern," she tells T&C. "Lincoln was an inspiration for a lot of men to wear a beard. But if you see a scraggly beard on a man today, you might not think this is a very modern man. I wanted [Manhunt] to feel the way it would feel at the time for us."

a man with a beard and a hat
MPI/Getty Images; Apple TV+

Hamish Linklater as Abraham Lincoln

To get Lincoln's look right, Linklater, whom you may know from The New Adventures of Old Christine or Midnight Mass, sat through three and a half hours of prosthetics every day.

The prosthetics, Linklater says, were "wonderful." "They really give you a mask, and different parts of you will come out that maybe if you were naked faced, you wouldn't be brave enough to do."

a man in a suit and tie
US National Archives/Getty Images; Apple TV+

Lili Taylor as Mary Todd Lincoln

The First Lady is played by Lili Taylor, who has starred in films like Mystic Pizza and Say Anything..., and TV shows like The X-Files and Six Feet Under.

Beletsky was very conscious of making the characters, especially the women, feel modern in the period drama. "A lot of the women at the time had these curlicue hairstyles in front of their face," she tells T&C. "I grew up in Philadelphia with a lot of museums. To me, when I see that hairstyle, I think, oh, this is like a wax museum of a lady. And, so I asked my hair people, were there any other hairstyles?!"

mary todd lincoln
Mathew Brady/MPI/Getty Images; Apple TV+

Anthony Boyle as John Wilkes Booth

Boyle, who most recently starred in Apple TV+'s Masters of the Air, plays Booth in Manhunt. Unlike for Stanton, the show kept Booth's facial hair—namely, his mustache.

Linklater said of his entry into the story, "I didn't know Lincoln's assassin was the brother of the most famous actor in America at that time. But it wasn't just a disgruntled actor—it was a conspiracy. They went after the Vice President, Secretary of State, in the same night, and those orders came from somewhere."

a person in a black coat
APIC/Getty Images; Apple TV+

Patton Oswalt as Lafayette Baker

Oswalt, an American comedian and actor known for his stand-up work and appearances on countless shows and movies (from Parks and Recreation to voicing Remy in Ratatouille), pivots into period drama in his portrayal of investigator and spy Lafayette Baker. Baker and his agents were instrumental in finding Booth.

a man with a beard and mustache
Kean Collection/Getty Images; Apple TV+

You Might Also Like