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Tag Archives: Steven Spielberg
I’ve always said that if somebody put me in charge of casting a Civil War movie and gave me an unlimited budget, I’d want Russell Crowe to play Grant. He’s a dead ringer.
If you’re going to cast an A-list actor like Crowe, though, it would probably be in a starring role, meaning you’d need some Grant-centric subject matter. So who’s up for a Shiloh movie?
Jackie Earle Haley of Watchmen fame will be playing Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens in Spielberg’s Lincoln movie. Let’s do a comparison:
Lincoln knew Stephens from his congressional days, describing the Georgian as “a little slim, pale-faced, consumptive man.” You can read a letter Stephens sent to Lincoln between the latter’s election and inauguration here, and the text of one of his most famous speeches here. It seems Stephens never got the memo regarding how the war wasn’t really about slavery.
Both images above are from Wikimedia Commons.
His “Lincoln” is “not a battlefield movie,” Spielberg says. “There are battles in it, and being in Virginia, we have access to those historic battlefields. It is really a movie about the great work Abraham Lincoln did in the last months of his life.
“We’re basing it on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, ‘Team of Rivals,’ but we’re only focusing in on the last four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life.
“The movie will be purposely coming out AFTER next year’s election. I didn’t want it to become political fodder.”
I was looking forward to hearing Daniel Day-Lewis do a rendition of the Gettysburg Address. Oh, well. Still looking forward to the movie.
The past few days have given us a flurry of Lincoln movie news, which you can read about in a series of posts by Brian Dirck (here, here, and here). Robert Redford has a Mary Surratt film in the works, and Spielberg is still pursuing his long-awaited Lincoln project.
Coincidentally, the History Channel has been on a Lincoln assassination kick today, with one documentary on the plot to steal his body and another on Booth’s possible connections to the Confederate government. The latter is on right now; as I type this sentence, Ed Steers, Jr. is giving some on-air commentary. Steers is a diligent Lincoln researcher and the author of Blood on the Moon, a fine book that I highly recommend.
All this reminds me of a story I tell whenever the subject of Lincoln movies or the assassination come up. Steers came to the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum to lecture during my first stint there, back when I was fresh out of college. Steven Wilson (ALLM’s curator and my boss) took Steers and his wife to dinner down in Cumberland Gap that night, and allowed me to tag along.
When the conversation turned to Lincoln movies, Steven jokingly suggested we all produce our own, with himself in the role of Edwin Stanton, and me as John Wilkes Booth. Ed Steers examined me critically for a second or two, and then said approvingly, “Yeah, you’d make a good Booth!”
I was pretty flattered. Remember, this came from one of the foremost Lincoln assassination authorities in the world. Of course, he was comparing me to the murderer of the most beloved figure in American history. But still.
With an endorsement like that, you’d think either Redford or Spielberg would’ve called me by now. Maybe I should get a new agent.