Steven Spielberg And Daniel Day-Lewis Delve Into The History And The Mind Of Lincoln

By Eric Eisenberg 2012-11-08 13:04:29discussion comments
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This film really does have a really impressive supporting cast, but during that casting process was there ever any concern about bringing all these big names together and having it distract from A) the story, and B) the titular character?

Steven Spielberg: I think that the people who are in the story, the actors who are in the story, some of them with long filmographies and very well known to the American public, disappear into their characters within seconds of coming on the screen. By the time this film is five, six minutes in theyíre all anonymous and theyíre all their characters. And thatís the great thing about hiring talented actors. Their job is to convince you of who they are, and thatís what Iím so proud of with this cast.

Daniel Day-Lewis: Just thinking -- sorry, Iím just thinking back on the [previous] question. Iím sorry to interrupt you, butÖI mean Iím just sort of reflecting a little bit on my entire life, and Iím thinking that Iíve spent a certain amount of time in 17th Century America, quite a bit of time in 18th Century America, and so much time in 19th Century America that I donít know if Iíll ever get out to join the modern world [laughs]. So somethingís been going on during these years, so they may not count on your list, but my experience is been that historical movies actually are well-presented.

Steven Spielberg: Yeah, thatís true. Thatís true. I never realized that.

Mr. Spielberg, in deconstructing Lincolnís image and icon you had to show him doing certain sort of questionable things in order to get slavery abolished. Do you feel that there is a message in that, and if so how would we apply that outside of a historical context?

Steven Spielberg: No, just desperate times require desperate measures. What Lincoln and the Lobbyist for the Amendment and the Manager of the Amendment and himself, what they did to get this passed was not illegal. It was murky, but what they did was noble and grand. How they went about it was somewhat murky, but nothing they did was really illegal. And by the way, what they did to gain favor, to persuade people to vote - not to vote their conscious Ė is not uncommon in this day and age either. To make a movie about a squeaky clean person whoís moral principles hold him so far beyond mortal man and woman would not be interesting to me. I like the fact that there is a bit of murkiness in the politics of the 19th Century to do something that was necessary and long-lasting.

Mr. Spielberg, Iím wondering Ė and Iím not sure if this goes into for lack of a better word, ďspoiler territory,Ē because of the presentation Ė but as we approach the end of the film I realize I didnít want to see the assassination and I didnít want to give the assassins the time of day, but Iím wondering about you making the decision not to depict John Wilkes Booth or the three part assassination attempt at all.

Steven Spielberg: The decision I think was an easy one to make, because I think had we taken it right up to the assassination. I think the film would've for the first time become exploitation, and I didnít want to go anywhere near that. Thatís a very scary word, especially when youíre dealing with the history, and I think that nothing could be gained by showing that, and it was more profound for me to see what actually happened.
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