'Killing Kennedy' Offers a Glimpse Into Rob Lowe's JFK

The second NatGeo telepic based on a Bill O'Reilly book screens footage at TCA, while the cast and crew compare America's Camelot to Shakespeare and defend the author's politics.
National Geographic
Rob Lowe and Ginnifer Goodwin in "Killing Kennedy"

Bill O'Reilly and William Shakespeare's names aren't often spoken in the same breath, but references to the Bard of Avon came frequently during the first preview of NatGeo's upcoming TV adaptation of the Fox News host's best-seller, Killing Kennedy.

The cable network's follow-up to ratings darling Killing Lincoln, National Geographic Channels president Howard T. Owens rolled out the cast and crew of the November telepic at the Television Critics Association press tour -- most notably Rob Lowe, the latest in a very long line of men to play the assassinated president.

Q&A: Nat Geo's Howard T. Owens on Bill O'Reilly and 'The Bible's' Allure

"Actors play Hamlet all of the time," Lowe told reporters, calling the Kennedys the closet thing to Shakespeare's well-documented royals. "A lot of people will play JFK in the future. He's one of our great American icons ... You just look at what you can bring individually as an actor."

"Shakespeare told the stories of the people of history, and that's what we wanted to do," added writer and ep Kelly Masterson.

The project's Jacqueline, Ginnifer Goodwin, appeared from Vancouver via satellite. And while she did reference the source material, she said interviews with the first lady that most informed her performance.

"I wanted the story I was telling of Jackie [to be] angled on everything she said about herself and not the way others described her," said Goodwin. "All we have are the things Jackie said after the fact, and I hope in that way we humanized these people. I don't think they've been fully humanized in the past."

As it came up for Killing Kennedy and will surely come up again for the already greenlit Killing Jesus, O'Reilly's conservative politics were a topic of the Q&A -- though no one was quick to chime in.  

"I didn't really think about it at all because the book has come out and been so successful," said Lowe. "Any time you can do material that has already proven to be of value is a good. To me, that was as far as I saw it. The book is nothing if not straightforward about the facts."