The tragic and controversial story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in Texas for killing his three children after scientific evidence and expert testimony that bolstered his claims of innocence were suppressed.


Edward Zwick


Geoffrey Fletcher (screenplay by), David Grann (based on The New Yorker article by)
2,406 ( 249)





Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack O'Connell ... Todd
Laura Dern ... Elizabeth
Emily Meade ... Stacy
Chris Coy ... Daniels
Jeff Perry ... Hurst
McKinley Belcher III ... Ponchai
David Wilson Barnes ... Reaves
Darren Pettie ... Horton
Blake Scott Lewis ... Johnny Webb
Jade Pettyjohn ... Julie
Noah Lomax ... Andrew
Jason Douglas ... Jackson
Carlos Gómez ... Vasquez (as Carlos Gómez)
Anthony Reynolds ... Fogg
Katie McClellan ... Margaret


The tragic and controversial story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in Texas for killing his three children after scientific evidence and expert testimony that bolstered his claims of innocence were suppressed.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Stand for What's Right, Fight for What's True.


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language throughout, some violence, disturbing images, sexual material and brief nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


This is Emily Meade and Jack O'Connell's second time starring together. They previously played together in 'Money Monster' (2016). See more »


Executioners are contract employees, not correctional officers. No department of corrections would allow an officer with daily contact with a death row inmate to "pull the switch" due to obvious potential for emotional attachments. See more »


Hurst: What's Your sign?
Elizabeth Gilbert: Excuse Me?
Hurst: Under what sign of the zodiac were you born?
Elizabeth Gilbert: Aries
Hurst: And your horoscope, do you read it?
Elizabeth Gilbert: Sometimes, I guess.
Hurst: Sometimes It's right and sometimes its wrong
Elizabeth Gilbert: Well, all that stuff is just...
Hurst: People have always been fascinated by the stars, they chartered their movements. They could tell when Mercury was retrograde or when Mars was aligned with Venus. They made predictions based on these observations. These people were called Astrologers. They were the experts on the Solar System. ...
See more »


Referenced in Talking Dead: Do Not Send Us Astray (2018) See more »


Cover Me In Your Filth
Written by Jeffrey Bützer and Scotty Hoffman
Performed by The Compartmentalizationalists
See more »

User Reviews

Wow, an excellent biopic production
19 August 2019 | by Top_Dawg_CriticSee all my reviews

Great directing and cinematography, and a fairly detailed account on the real story of Cameron Todd Willingham, played excellent by Jack O'Connell. Casting was great and all actors were convincing in their roles. Laura Dern was outstanding. The score/music was great and placed perfectly in certain scenes.

The first half of the film was paced perfectly and had great tense moments, but I feel the second half dragged out a little too long with slower pacing and overly extended scenes. The 127 min runtime should have been edited down minus 20 mins from the second half of the film.

Otherwise and outstanding production that had a roller-coaster of emotions and tense moments due to the excellent acting and technical details the filmmakers created. It really makes you think on how terrible the justice system was and still is, and how politics played out during then-Texas governor Rick Perry's poor judgement.

It's a shame this excellent production has some bad ratings/reviews, some reviewers saying it's predictable and cliched. This is how the real story played out, so any so-called cliches, sadly are actual facts. Thus a well deserved 9/10 from me, and a definite recommend if you can forgive the slow pacing in the second act. And if anyone thinks this review is fake, click on my username to see my 1000+ ratings and 700+ reviews. Now go see this excellent biopic!

75 of 94 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 83 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.


Official Sites:

Official site





Release Date:

17 May 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Trial by Fire See more »

Filming Locations:

Atlanta, Georgia, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$78,817, 19 May 2019

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed