Michelle Trachtenberg plays the wife of Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the new movie Killing Kennedy, and the actress said she didn’t have to go far for inspiration.
Trachtenberg, who speaks mostly Russian in the film, was able to draw on a childhood where her mother taught her to speak fluent Russian.
But that wasn’t all the research she did. Michelle Trachtenberg said she dug into the role, learning as much about JFK and the Oswalds as she could.
“Most of the research was JFK-based,” she said. “I watched several documentaries about him. Of course I read the original book, Killing Kennedy, and Marina and Lee, which was the only book that Marina ever sat down and gave an interview for.”
Trachtenberg said the role wasn’t too much of a stretch for her, given her history in period pieces and resemblance to the real Marina Oswald.
“I do think this is a big transformation for me because I haven’t done a ton of period pieces,” Michelle Trachtenberg added. “This is an iconic role, so I don’t want people to necessarily see me when they look at these photos. But at the same time, I do think Marina and I share many physical characteristics that help me in this role.”
Killing Kennedy debuts Sunday on the National Geographic Chanel, days before the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination in Dallas. The film mixes television broadcasts, film reel footage, and cinematic depictions of the day Kennedy was killed. It shows viewers intimate moments of the Kennedy presidency as well as the Oswald family.
Will Rothhaar, who plays Lee Harvey Oswald, said his aim was to bring depth to the role as one of America’s greatest villains.
“Everyone thinks of him as this two-dimensional villain,” Rothhaar said.
The movie includes Ginnifer Goodwin as Jacqueline Kennedy, Rob Lowe as John F. Kennedy, Jack Noseworthy as Robert F. Kennedy and Casey Siemaszko as Jack Ruby.
Filming the movie was a surreal experience, Goodwin said.
“There were times when I felt like I was with the ghost of Jack,” Goodwin said. “I can’t say that I have ever had that experience of feeling like maybe my scene partner was channeling something from a higher source.”
Michelle Trachtenberg has a busy year outside of her role as Marina Oswald. She is also set to star as Alice in the upcoming film The Scribbler.