As expected in this first look at Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis draws an eerily similar resemblance to what Abraham Lincoln looked like or what we imagine Abe to have looked like. It’s well known Daniel likes to immerse himself in his character. Much like I do during my plushie meetups. Quack quack quack.
Spielberg tells EW that Day-Lewis captures not just the likeness of the 16th U.S. president in the below image, but also the intangible, pensive quality that made him a great leader. “Lincoln had a very, very complicated – and at the same time, extremely clear — inner life,” the director says. “He thought things out. He talked things out. He argued both sides of every issue. And he was very careful in making any decision. As a matter of fact, his opponents and his enemies criticized him often for being impossibly slow to a decision.”
Then again, maybe the rumors aren’t true.
There are numerous reports about Day-Lewis attempting to fully immerse himself in the mindset of someone who lived during the mid-1860s by avoiding the trappings of 21st — not to mention 20th — century life during the shoot, but Spielberg says his star never delved so deeply into character that he refused to acknowledge the modern world. “Daniel was always conscious of his contemporary surroundings,” Spielberg says. “Daniel never went into a fugue state. He did not channel Lincoln. All that stuff is just more about gossip than it is about technique.”
People on set did refer to the actor as “Mr. President,” including Spielberg, but the director says that was just part of the effort to maintain atmosphere. “I was calling [all] the actors by their character names,” he says. “That was something I felt was important to establish a little authenticity, maybe even more for me than for them.”
I still want to believe he was in character the whole time. That he asked a few volunteers to keep actual slaves on a plantation for a few years so he’d know how it felt to free them.