The sixteenth President of the United States guides the North to victory during the Civil War.
Any time that Daniel Day-Lewis is playing a movie role is a big deal. In fact it is a huge deal. He is basically the greatest living Actor on the planet right now. I’m not exactly sure why I capitalized the ‘A’ in actor just there, but when talking about DDL it just feels necessary. Any time this guy is on screen you want to be there to see just what he’s going to do.
And now he’s in a biopic, based on arguably one of the greatest men in history, surrounded by a stellar cast. It is the kind of movie and performance that the Oscars were made for.
We have Joseph Gordon Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Jackie Earle Haley, Sally Field, David Strathairn, John Hawkes and James Spader. Oh, and this guy, Steven Spielberg, is directing.
Now normally Spielberg would get a little more fanfare than that, but after sitting in the middle of a streak of mediocre movies, and being completely out-Spielberg-ed by J.J. Abrams (‘Super 8′), I’m not exactly sure how to approach him anymore. Still, this is Spielberg, so even if you can’t be completely ecstatic about one of his projects, you can’t write them off entirely either.
Here’s a nice little interview with David Strathairn about how he prepared for this role. In it he mentions Daniel Day Lewis, and how he had the crew awestruck:
Q. When you’re acting next to someone with the presence of Daniel Day-Lewis, and on top of that he’s playing Abraham Lincoln, did you ever find yourself swept up in the moment?
A. Every day. The depth to which he inhabits the character, the minute details he pays attention to … we were doing camera tests on the set taking place in the president’s office, and there was a long hallway on the White House set. Daniel was on his way down a set of stairs down to that floor, and I was standing in the hallway as he came up stairs, and you saw the stovepipe hat. And he was back-lit, his silhouette had that perfect walk, and he was fully clothed in the president’s clothes. It was the first time a lot of people in production had seen him in full regalia, and people were holding their breath because he has the height, his face has that structure. What the makeup people had done was just extraordinary. It was ghostly — it took you aback. Every day from then on, his investment and focus and how he conducted it throughout the day, each day, you realize you’re in the presence of not only an extraordinary performance, but something other — the transformation had been made to one of those magical things that only the greatest actors can do. So yeah, there were quite a few moments.
For more on Daniel Day Lewis, click here.
For more on Steven Spielberg, click here.