With the numbers in from the opening weekend of Lincoln, the film appears to have grossed over $21 million, which is a decent pull for a historical epic (even though I did expect a higher gross), especially when you consider that it went up against the opening of the latest Twilight movie, and Skyfall is still going strong. If you go to IMDb and check out the current rating the film sits at, it is an 8.3 which has steadily climbed at least one point each day since it’s release on Friday after hovering between 7.8 and 7.9 in the days following the limited release on November 9th. I would now like to break down the ratings even further, and by clicking on the user amount located below the rating on the film’s page, we can see how the ratings got sorted by age and gender, which can tell us a lot about a film’s success.
I have known actor and filmmaker Ed Mantell for a few years, and he is always good for a story or two. After working on so many Civil War related documentaries and features (and many other genres as well), it is safe to say that his insight has helped me understand the film-making process a lot more clearly than when I started blogging three years ago. Ed was recently involved with Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, as a background talent appearing in numerous scenes (quite prominently in one set in the “war room”, where he noted that he face was actually visible for five seconds), and attended the premiere in Richmond, Virginia this past week. Ed was kind enough to share his review of the film with us:
Aside from a pleasantly plump looking Robert E. Lee (as my friend and fellow Civil War blogger Steven Hancock pointed out earlier), this latest trailer for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, directed at the international market, is the best one we have seen yet, and might even be the last chance to wet our appetites that we get before the film opens up on November 16th. While the “Unite” trailer from last month was outstanding, this one contains more dialogue and an expanded view of Tommy Lee Jones’ character as Thaddeus Stevens and one of the insults he uses to denigrate pro-slavery representative Fernando Wood (Lee Pace), a series of which one reviewer, who had already seen the film, described as “blistering”.
For this next interview, I had the chance to talk to an actor named Michael Kennedy, who appeared in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln as the character of Hiram Price, a Republican congressman who he found out, through research, actually had a personal connection to his great-grandfather. Kennedy has also appeared in films such as Patch Adams, True Colors, and Evan Almighty, and has acted professionally since 1953, while “acting up” since 1943, as he said in his email. I think you will find that this is a very entertaining interview, as he elaborated on a lot of behind-the-scenes information, and what it was like to work with such a famous director. You can read about that, and much more, in our interview below, which was conducted by phone this morning:
As promised, I bring you an interview with a cast-member from Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, a man who I have chatted with once before, when I was in the middle of coverage of the Gods and Generals Extended Director’s Cut release back in July 2011, as he played Captain James B. Ricketts. The actor’s name is David Foster, who, once he landed a role in the highly anticipated film about Abraham Lincoln, promised he would allow me to interview him when the time was right. With major outlets like the Washington Post and others clamoring to talk to anyone involved with the film, David came to me first, and I thank him immensely for that. Aside from the two films mentioned, he is also going to appear in yet another Civil War related film, Killing Lincoln, a docudrama to appear on National Geographic next year, in the role of James Gifford.
In getting back to Lincoln, David had the opportunity to partake in two roles: one as a Radical Republican congressman, and much more importantly, the stand-in for Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln. I have seen pictures of David dressed up as Honest Abe, and although we cannot yet post them, I must say that he looks outstanding in the role. So, without further adieu, I present my interview with David, conducted earlier today by email, shown below:
762 posts into this blog’s history, and this is the first time I’ve ever written about somebody’s hair…
Many people have been a bit perplexed at the hair Tommy Lee Jones is sporting for his role as Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln, citing it as an ugly and obvious wig, and with the comments I have been reading about it, you would think that it is so bad it would detract away from his performance, which of course, we have yet to see in great detail due to him only having a few snippets of screen-time in the trailers. Anyway, yes, the cat is out of the bag: the Jones wig is simply awful. In fact, even on set, according to a source, it was jokingly referred to as “the ShamWow”. Now, before I start to sound like just another person going off on a tirade about an insignificant detail in the long run of things, why don’t we do a little research into the real Thaddeus Stevens, as maybe, just maybe, this heavily researched, $50 million epic directed by one of cinema’s greatest, might actually have a reason for giving Jones such a terrible mop. Well, it just so happens that the real Stevens wore a wig because he suffered Alopecia, a condition that caused him to go bald at a young age (gee, and all this time I thought he just had an aversion to combs). The wig he wore was noted to be “ill-fitting” and is actually the catalyst for what I think is one of the funniest smaller moments in history.
We are now exactly two months away from the premiere of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (excited yet?), and I just wanted to give my thoughts on a few things below:
The Voice of Daniel Day-Lewis
If you browse the film message boards, namely IMDb’s, you will find that there are quite a lot of people disappointed at the voice/accent Day-Lewis is using to portray Abraham Lincoln, citing it as too high-pitched and not deep enough. The reason for these attacks (there seem to be quite a few people who have too much time on their hands) is because people are used to seeing our 16th president presented with a deep, raspy voice, much like what Gregory Peck did for him in The Blue and the Gray, and to a lesser extent, Lance Henriksen in The Day Lincoln was Shot, one of my favorites. However, if you do your historical research, you will learn that Lincoln’s voice was actually the opposite of how Hollywood has shown over the years. It was a “high and shrill” voice that had a kind of country-bumpkin twang to it. People in his time were originally caught off-guard by it, expecting a man of his size to sound differently, but by all reports, his voice quickly grew on the crowd, especially during speeches. I think the only actor to come close to getting it right prior to this was Sam Waterston, who starred in Gore Vidal’s 1988 made-for-TV vision of the same name as this one. It must have been very difficult for Day-Lewis to continuously use this accent, as he is a method actor who remains in character the entire time he is on set, but that is what separates him from the rest. He is one of the best actors of our time for a reason.
We all knew this was going to be good, but up until viewing the newly released trailer for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, I was hesitant to label this an epic. Well, after viewing these two minutes, I think that is exactly what we will be dealing with once this film hits theaters on November 16th. In the direction that Hollywood has been heading in recent years, could this be the last great, big-budget historical epic? One would certainly hope not, but this will definitely have to serve as our Civil War fill, at least for a while. This trailer has given us a little bit of everything, not just glimpses of what are sure to be Academy Award-nominated performances from Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones, as Thaddeus Stevens, (I’m also looking forward to Hal Holbrook’s performance and will bet you everything I own that the score from John Williams will win him his sixth Oscar) but of all the other items that are going to shape this film. A pleasant surprise to me here is the inclusion of battle scenes, and what looks like Richmond burning. Though marketed as a biopic, the scope of the storyline may be a lot more vast than we could have ever imagined, hence the usage of the word “epic”.
Unfortunately, due to other projects and events we have been covering on this blog, Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film titled Lincoln has gone largely ignored. This was not by design, of course, and I am looking forward to it immensely, given some of my favorite actors, Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones, are starring in it. I have been in contact with one of the cast-members, who wanted to pass along this little tidbit, after we discussed some of the scenes that will be included, “People have reported we filmed the assassination but we did not. Just the deathbed scene.” This would be very interesting to note, because the one scene that everyone would be geared up for in a film about Abraham Lincoln would be how his assassination is handled. When I pressed him further and asked if he was sure, he responded, “We wrapped on December 20. [There was no assassination filmed] unless they filmed it in California after they left here. The word on set was that Daniel [Day-Lewis] told them he was leaving after December 20 to go home and not coming back for re-shoots.” He promised to stay in touch with other little factoids as we get closer to a release. That’s all for now.
While I have not been following the production of Lincoln as much as I would like to be, I do have a source on the cast that says the production is in need for Civil War reenactors in their twenties, for filming in November. He tells me that he met two during rehearsal yesterday that really wanted to work, but were older than the specific need. For anyone that has studied the Civil War, this is not surprising, as most of the soldiers were young men and boys, which only added to the tragedy as casualty figures came in. If you are interested in taking part, please visit the Virginia Film Office website for more information, and you can apply by sending an email to email@example.com, but please, only apply if you fit the need required.
This could be a great opportunity for young reenactors to work with one of the greatest directors of all-time, Steven Spielberg, as well as an all-star cast that includes Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role, as well as Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, and Hal Holbrook, among others.
That’s all for now, folks. Just wanted to lend a hand!