Spielberg Hires The Most Badass Lincoln Imaginable

If you have to lose Liam Neeson from your Abraham Lincoln biopic you could do a lot worse than pick up Daniel Day Lewis.

For years Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln was going to star Liam Neeson. It was a fine choice, and while Neeson has a habit of really, really slumming it, he’s a great actor when he puts his mind to it. But the film kept getting backburnered and for a while we thought we’d never see it. And then Neeson was off the project and everybody assumed it was dead.

But it is not! Lincoln lives! And with a new Lincoln who, I daresay, will be incredible in the role: Daniel Day Lewis.

Here’s the press release from Dreamworks:

Two-time Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis will star as the 16th President of the United States in DreamWorks Studios’ Lincoln to be directed by Steven Spielberg.  The announcement was made today by Spielberg and Stacey Snider, Co-Chairman and CEO of DreamWorks Studios.
“Daniel Day-Lewis would have always been counted as one of the greatest of actors, were he from the silent era, the golden age of film or even some time in cinema’s distant future. I am grateful and inspired that our paths will finally cross with Lincoln,” said Steven Spielberg.  “Throughout his career, he has been exceptionally selective in his choice of material,” added Stacey Snider, “which makes us feel even more fortunate that he has chosen to join with us for Lincoln.”
Based on the best-selling book, Team of Rivals, by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, the screenplay has been written by the Pulitzer Prize winner, Tony Award winner, and Academy Award nominated writer Tony Kushner.  It will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg.
It is anticipated that the film will focus on the political collision of Lincoln and the powerful men of his cabinet on the road to abolition and the end of the Civil War.

I just visited the Lincoln exhibit at the Smithsonian last month and I think DDL is the kind of guy who will go all the way to inhabit the character of the Great Emancipator. My bet is that he loses a lot of weight to capture the wiry frame of Lincoln, especially in these difficult Civil War years. I like the idea of DDL bringing something more than just stentorian authority to the role as well - he’s going to be in touch with Lincoln’s darkness. The president was a depressive, after all, and that’s definitely going to inform the performance.

This is about the best news we could hope for on the project. Lincoln shoots in the fall of 2011 for a 2012 release.