You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Spielberg: ‘Lincoln’ was a lesson in acting

Eye on the Oscars 2013: The Director - Steven Spielberg

In the same way that “Lincoln” daguerreotyped the capstone of the 16th president’s eventful life, the making of “Lincoln” culminated a decades-long interest in the subject by Steven Spielberg.

“It was an urge to find a story about Abraham Lincoln based on a lifelong fascination with him as a figure in history, a figure that is almost so famous that he’s become virtually invisible to most people,” Spielberg says.

“I had always been really compelled by not just his deeds but just his process,” adds the director, a passion that preceded his meeting “Lincoln” biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin in 1989. Ever the student despite his numerous accomplishments, Spielberg broke new personal ground in the making of “Lincoln.”

“Every movie, I learn something about filmmaking I never learned before,” Spielberg says. “This is a movie where I didn’t use really any technology except sound, lights and camera. I wasn’t staring at a monitor every day — I was watching the actors.

“In that sense, I felt I was closer to working on a performance-driven story than I would have been if I had spent my entire time, as I’ve done in the past, in a blackened tent facing three monitors. I had a real-time experience during ‘Lincoln’ — I was there with the cast shooting the picture. Technology has banished me sometimes as far as 100 yards away. That intimacy of being right next to the actors really changed my mind about how I want to make my next pictures.”

And as for what Spielberg discovered about Lincoln himself, after all those years of research?

“I learned that Lincoln knew that he was put on this earth to accomplish one great task, and he knew this even when he was a lawyer on the legal circuit,” Spielberg says. “He always knew.”

| HOME | Benh Zeitlin >>

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Costa Gavras

    Costa-Gavras and Cast on Nationality, Identity, and Cinema

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Though he’s been based in Paris since 1955 and came up through the French film industry, director Costa-Gavras has never forgotten his roots. “Those who are born Greek,” said the Peloponnese-born filmmaker at a Saturday press conference,  “stay Greek all their lives.” The once-and-always Greek was not just in San Sebastian to [...]

  • Lorene Scafaria, Jennifer Lopez. Lorene Scafaria,

    'Hustlers' Director Lorene Scafaria: 'We Wanted to Treat It Like a Sports Movie'

    The star-studded cast of “Hustlers” didn’t just become strippers in the empowering female-helmed blockbuster — they also became athletes. When speaking to “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast, at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month, “Hustlers” director Lorene Scafaria explained the extreme athleticism required of the movie’s leading actresses, who all had [...]

  • Jonathan Van NessLos Angeles Beautycon, Portrait

    Jonathan Van Ness Reveals HIV Diagnosis, Former Drug Addiction

    “Queer Eye’s” Jonathan Van Ness is getting vulnerable in his new memoir “Over the Top.” In a preview of his book with the New York Times, Van Ness opened up about his early struggles with sex and drug addiction as well as his experience with sexual assault, revealing that he was abused by an older [...]

  • 4127_D022_00003_RC(l-r.) Elizabeth McGovern stars as Lady

    Box Office: 'Downton Abbey' Dominating 'Ad Astra,' 'Rambo' With $31 Million Opening

    “Downton Abbey” is heading for a positively brilliant opening weekend after scoring $13.8 million in domestic ticket sales on Friday. If estimates hold, the feature film version of the popular British television show should take home approximately $31 million come Sunday, marking the biggest opening ever for distributor Focus Features and beating previous record holder [...]

  • Gully Boy to represent India in

    'Gully Boy' to Represent India In Oscars Race

    The Film Federation of India has chosen Zoya Akhtar’s “Gully Boy” as its entry in the Academy Awards’ international feature film category. The picture, a coming of age tale about an aspiring rapper in Mumbai’s Dharavi slum premiered at the Berlin film festival in February before opening to a wave of acclaim at home in [...]

  • Lucy-Lost

    Cartoon Forum: 30th Anniversary, Little Giants and New Generations

    TOULOUSE, France –  Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Cartoon Forum wrapped Sept. 19 having showcased the ever-growing strength of European animation. 85 projects were pitched from 24 countries at the co-production forum platform that played host to north of 1,000 investors, distributors and producers – a record number. Falling on French-speaking Belgium – Wallonie-Bruxelles – whose [...]

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content