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The film “Killing Reagan,” is a political thriller based on the book by Bill O’Reilly, which chronicled the events leading to the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley Jr. in 1981.  Tim Matheson stars as Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States. The project was daunting at first because Reagan was and is revered by so many conservatives. Playing the role was “about putting aside any of my own political beliefs because you can’t act politics, and just trying to absorb the humanity, the inner man and his feelings, emotions and thoughts,” Matheson explained. By studying Reagan, Matheson had a deeper admiration for “The Gipper.”

We can see the humanity and humor of Reagan in the film, as he combated Matheson protesters who called him a racist during the campaign. It deeply bothered him that people viewed him in such a terrible matter. Dealing with people’s misconceptions and battling the opposing political party, Reagan still had humanness about him, Matheson recalled.

“He was a man before he was a politician. He had a common humanity and sort of related to people on that level before he did by party line. He could battle toe-to-toe with the Democrats and the Democratic Party all day long and yet sit down with drinks with them that night,” said Matheson, who played the ghost of Reagan in the “Talker” in 2011. With a country and political system so divided it was clear for the actor Reagan was something special. “I came away with tremendous respect for him and for the ability to do this. He was the tonic we needed for this country.”

The film chronicled Hinckley’s unraveling mental faculties, and therapy sessions as he was obsessed with becoming famous, and becoming a writer.  The story gives a background of his obsession with the film “Taxi” and Jodie Foster. Meanwhile, the film shifts to the end of Reagan’s campaign and win over Jimmy Carter. People will also be immersed in the tick-tock of the environment and the faulty thoughts of Hinckley’s. In “Killing Reagan” we will experience a true collision course of hunter and the prey. As the story moves along, we go deeper into the head of Reagan and his love story with Nancy (Cynthia Nixon) and their strong bond.

“Killing Reagan” is part of a series that includes, “Killing Jesus,” “Killing Lincoln,” and “Killing Patton.” “He [O’Reilly] has an approach in theses books of giving us history and it is embedded in mystery and suspense, and a love story that is riveting. And we learn all this historical stuff without feeling we’ve been given a spoonful of medicine,” said Matheson.

“Killing Reagan” will premiere Sunday, Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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