After almost a decade in development limbo, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is finally headed for the big screen. This weekend it was announced that Daniel Day-Lewis will play the 16th President of the United States, replacing Liam Neeson, who’d long been attached to the role but dropped out last summer after years of waiting.
While Robert Redford has already shot his The Conspirator (about a woman charged and hanged for participating in the Lincoln assassination plot), and Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov are working on adapting the novel Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, Spielberg’s film–which has been in pre-production since the early ’00s and boasts a script by Tony Kushner (Angels in America, Munich)–is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s best-selling historical work, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.
Sure Neeson would have been great, but Day-Lewis should be fantastic–to say his casting is perfect is like saying chocolate makes everything taste better. Hyperbole (and shoe cobbling) aside, Day-Lewis is simply one of the best actors working on the planet today, though this will be his first project with The Beard.
We tend to remember Day-Lewis for showy, bombastic roles like Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York or his Oscar-winning Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood. (Over on Twitter, TV Without Pity has already laid claim to “I drink your Confederacy! I drink it up!”) Lincoln did not have that kind of larger-than-life out-sized personality (height-wise, sure)–he was a quiet, pensive man, prone to melancholy and depression, but also possessing a wry wit and the ability and willingness to make forceful (unpopular) decisions. Of course Day-Lewis has also always been great in more inward, introspective roles, as in The Age of Innocence and The Crucible.
The question is when Spielberg will film Lincoln. He’s in the middle of shooting War Horse (set during WWI) and recently announced his next film after that would be the sci-fi actioner Robopocalypse, which is set to start filming in early 2012. So it appears the director will shoot Lincoln between the two projects, sometime this coming year.
See Day-Lewis in Nine from redbox.
Buy other Lincoln films from redbox:
- American Experience: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
- Gore Vidal’s Lincoln
- The Blue and the Gray
- Ken Burns’ The Civil War