Tag Archives: Steven Spielberg

Lincoln movie items of note

In the next few weeks there are going to be so many Lincoln updates that you’ll be pining for the good old days when nothing happened other than the occasional Liam Neeson visit to Springfield.

As is his custom, Daniel Day-Lewis was fanatically committed to his role in Spielberg’s upcoming Lincoln film.  This according to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Robert Todd Lincoln and whose character in The Dark Knight Rises was utterly superfluous, thank you very much.

Producer Kathleen Kennedy also talked to reporters about Spielberg’s Lincoln.  More importantly, she gave a progress report on the next Jurassic Park installment.  (One of these days I’ll finally give in and make this a history/dinosaur blog.)

There’s already been misplaced criticism of Day-Lewis’s portrayal of Lincoln’s voice.  All you people who want your Lincoln to sound like Gregory Peck need to read up on what his voice was actually like.

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Downright uncanny

Take a look at the photo, and then click here.

Taken at Brady’s studio on Jan. 8, 1864. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

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Speaking of Spielberg’s Lincoln, you can see Daniel Day-Lewis in Abe mode

…by clicking here.  Could use some latex to build up the facial protrusions, and the hair’s combed a little too neatly, but it’s not a bad visual impression.  I just hope they don’t try to water down the dialect.  The man didn’t sound like a newscaster.

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Spielberg finds a general

Jared Harris is going to be playing Ulysses S. Grant in Spielberg’s Lincoln, according to Empire.  I’m not really familiar with Harris. Apparently he’s in Mad Men, a show I’ve never watched.

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.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (LC-B813- 6371B)

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?

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Spielberg has found his Confederate VP

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.

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Spielberg’s Lincoln movie is actually an end-of-Lincoln’s-presidency movie

…according to an article in The Orlando Sentinel.

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.

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I’m ready for my close-up

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. 

John Wilkes Booth, via Wikimedia Commons

John Wilkes Booth, apparently a doppelganger of yours truly. Via Wikimedia Commons

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.

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