×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Long-gestating ‘Lincoln’ driven by performances

PGA Awards: David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Motion Pictures

Steven Spielberg has been nursing his idea for a movie about Abraham Lincoln for so long that it predated American historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book on Lincoln and his presidential Cabinet, “Team of Rivals.”

The book — acclaimed for its perceptive and fresh stance on Union strategies for ending the Civil War, with Lincoln managing and finessing a bevy of prickly and ambitious White House colleagues and allies — provided Spielberg with a specific narrative spine and focus, which also meant continuing changes to script versions written by John Logan and Paul Webb.

Tony Kushner, who had previously worked with Spielberg on “Munich,” entered the project and, with Goodwin’s book as a key though not exclusive basis for the film, wrote the final script version.

Producer Kathleen Kennedy has said “Lincoln” — set for December release — is a performance-driven film, which is why the cast is striking even by Spielberg’s standards. Daniel Day-Lewis plays Lincoln in the final four months of his life and presidency, engaged in passing the 13th Amendment to the Constitution to solidify the Emancipation Proclamation.

Supporting Lewis are Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln; Tommy Lee Jones as congressional anti-slavery firebrand Thaddeus Stevens; Bruce McGill as Secretary of War Edwin Stanton; David Strathairn as Secretary of State William Seward; Jared Harris as the Union’s most successful commanding general, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant; John Hawkes as Col. Robert Latham; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robert Todd Lincoln, Lincoln’s eldest son.

The film’s dramatic focus, Spielberg says, is on the work in the Lincoln White House, the efforts by Lincoln to steer events, and the obstacles in his way.

A fascinating aspect of Spielberg’s “Lincoln” is how it may serve as a movie bookend of sorts to a great biopic by one of Spielberg’s key influences, John Ford, and his sublime 1939 “Young Mr. Lincoln,” starring a quietly stunning Henry Fonda. Ford’s depiction of Lincoln is one of a potentially great mind in formation, still a country lawyer and far from the visionary president. Spielberg’s Lincoln, having served a war-filled first term and early on into his second, is managing the war on the battlefront (reportedly unseen in the movie) and the fierce one in Washington, centered on finally abolishing slavery once and for all.

PGA AWARDS
Spielberg: Empire of the stunner | Long-gestating ‘Lincoln’ driven by performances | Guild draws line on producer credit

More Scene

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

  • Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce

    Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce GLAAD Media Award Nominations

    Mj Rodriguez and Nico Santos are set to announce the nominees for the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards. The “Pose” star and “Crazy Rich Asians” funny man will make the announcement during a live-stream hosted by AT&T and from the AT&T Hello Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 25. “The images and stories recognized [...]

  • Emile Hirsch, Matt SmileyEmile Hirsch hosts

    Emile Hirsch Hosts Smiley Face Art Opening at Mondrian Hotel

    Despite the rain on Wednesday night in West Hollywood, there were plenty of smiles inside the Mondrian hotel thanks to artist Matt Smiley‘s Refresh exhibition. Not only is Smiley his real last name, but several of his paintings and other pieces in the exhibit feature smiley faces. “I’ve seen more smiley symbolism lately, and I’ve [...]

  • Randall Park, left, and Constance Wu

    Constance Wu Wants Her 'Fresh Off the Boat' Co-Star Randall Park to Host the Oscars

    While the Academy may have decided to go hostless for this year’s Oscars, that doesn’t mean the rest of Hollywood has stopped thinking about who would be a good choice for the emceeing gig. Former host Whoopi Goldberg recently suggested Ken Jeong. Jeong said, when he was a guest on “The View,” Goldberg told him [...]

  • 'Schitt's Creek' Stars Reveal Dream Guest

    'Schitt's Creek' Cast Reveals Dream Guest Stars: Oprah, Beyonce and ...

    “Schitt’s Creek” has big dreams. Dan Levy, who stars as David on the series, says his wish list of guest stars includes Oprah, Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Gwyneth Paltrow. “All for different reasons, none of whom we’ll get,” he cracked at the Critics’ Choice Awards. For those who haven’t caught on to the “Schitt’s Creek” [...]

  • Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bundchen

    Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen to Be Honored at UCLA Science Gala

    Science can be very glamorous. It certainly will be during Oscar week on Feb. 21 when the UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability (IoES) honors Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen for environmental activism at its annual Hollywood for Science Gala. “When I moved to LA, the air was unbreathable. Rivers were catching fire in [...]

  • Don Cheadle and Andrew Rannells Black

    Don Cheadle, Andrew Rannells Talk Snorting 'Coke' on 'Black Monday'

    “Black Monday” show creators David Caspe and Jordan Cahen divulged an intriguing detail to come later in the first season of the new Showtime comedy at its world premiere, held at the Theatre at Ace Hotel on Monday night in Los Angeles. “The fourth or fifth episode opens with a sexual harassment seminar, which very well [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content