It should come as no surprise that Daniel Day-Lewis looks exactly like Abraham Lincoln in the first official publicity still from Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (based on the book Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Godwin). The movie opens November 9th and that psychopath has probably been eating tins of baked beans with an axe handle in a log cabin he built himself for a year now. I heard he tried to give one of his sons tuberculosis, just to see what affect that had on his character.
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.” [EW]
“At one point, we did have to have a meeting after he asked a PA for ‘draught of boiled chicory and a salve of warm birch leaves.’ I was like, bro, that’s my nephew, he’s 19, he went out of his way to get you that macchiato, and he thought he was doing the right thing. And you give him a big lecture about the failed strategies of the temperance movement? He doesn’t know what you’re talking about, he didn’t even graduate high school. Now he’s in the grip truck and he won’t come out. Can we just go ahead and tone it down it bit for the rest of the shoot, please? I respect your craft, but… just chill, man, you know?”