The 'Game of Thrones' Guys Are Making a New Show With Matthew Macfadyen and Michael Shannon


History dads, Succession-heads, and Michael Shannoniacs—we are so back. Netflix announced today that the next big project from Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will be titled Death by Lightning and about the assassination of President James Garfield. Michael Shannon and Matthew Macfadyen both star, with Shannon as Garfield and Macfadyen portraying his assassin, Charles Guiteau. Which, we gotta say, is the reverse of who we thought would be playing whom—but we’re into it.

Netflix describes Death by Lightning as “a drama series that brings to life the epic and stranger-than-fiction true story of James Garfield, reluctant 20th president of the United States, and his greatest admirer Charles Guiteau—the man who would come to kill him.” It’s based on the book Destiny Of The Republic by Candice Millard.

Benioff and Weiss also have the weighty sci-fi series 3 Body Problem coming soon with Netflix, but they’re not writing or directing this new one. Mike Makowsky (Bad Education) will do the former and Matt Ross (Captain Fantastic) will be behind the camera.

James Garfield’s presidential term started in March 1881. Guiteau shot him in June, and he succumbed to his injuries an agonizing few months later, in September of that year. Guiteau pled temporary insanity, but was sentenced to death and executed the following year. The full story is complicated, involving spurned political dreams, medical malpractice, and maybe even a touch of neurosyphilis.

Prestige presidential assassination shows are having a bit of a moment. This March, Apple TV+ will bring us Manhunt, about Edwin Stanton (Tobias Menzies) tracking down John Wilkes Boothe (Anthony Boyle) following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (Hamish Linklater) (Hey, why not?). Two’s a trend! And while JFK’s assassination has obviously been well-trodden, there’s still room for another streaming network to come in hot with something on William McKinley.

Timing is still TBD for Death by Lightning but calling it now: the theme song’s going be a spooky, slowed down A24-esque cover of Johnny Cash’s “Mr. Garfield.”



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