Based on Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard's New York Times best-selling book "Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever," the 2-hour special is being produced by Ridley Scott and the late Tony Scott's Scott Free Productions. It is to air in early 2013, National Geographic Channel President Howard T. Owens said Thursday.
The network described "Killing Lincoln" as a "historical thriller" that "combines the stunning drama with CGI, in the signature style of the Scott brothers, with rare historical archives."
Hanks is a two-time Oscar winner known for his roles in "Saving Private Ryan," "Forest Gump," "Apollo 13," "The Green Mile" and "The Da Vinci Code."
"It's odd to say the killing of Abraham Lincoln is an unknown story, but it may as well be," Hanks said in a statement. "The depth of the intrigue, the breadth of the conspiracy and the bare-naked exposure of human nature is so timeless, it's a wonder how that seminal tragedy in our history could ever be explained in a few sentences: 'Ford's Theater... John Wilkes Booth,' etc. The murder of Lincoln is not a passage of our history -- it was a signpost of our American character, then, now and forever."
"Only Hanks can add that unique poise, intrigue and dynamism that are his trademark to a film about one of the most significant, life-changing events in America's young history," Ridley Scott said. "His mastery always shines through and we can't wait for viewers to be engrossed in this story."
Actor Billy Campbell will play Abraham Lincoln in the film, while Jesse Johnson will play John Wilkes Booth and Geraldine Hughes will play Mary Todd Lincoln.