daniel day-lewis
Daniel Day-Lewis getting ready to play Lincoln
Much more than a movie star, Daniel Day-Lewis defines the word "actor." The man is a true chameleon, capable of virtually disappearing into his roles -- I don't know about you, but I couldn't even look at him the same way for a while after Gangs of New York. If there's anyone who can play Abraham Lincoln, it's Daniel Day-Lewis.

Which is why it's fairly ridiculous that there's been some controversy over the Academy Award-winner being cast in the title role of Steven Spielberg's upcoming biopic, Lincoln. Apparently some movie buffs are miffed because Daniel Day-Lewis isn't American. Gasp! He's a Brit! Okay, first of all, DDL could play a cardboard box convincingly. Secondly, isn't that kind of the whole point of acting? Taking on a persona that's completely different from your own?

Maybe it's because, historically, we revere Abraham Lincoln (perhaps even more so now. Hey, remember when American presidents did good stuff, like abolish slavery?). I suppose that could be why there's this territorial thing surrounding his memory.

But Spielberg isn't putting together a tribute reel, he's making a film. Directors are allowed as much artistic license as they want. (Besides, it's not like Spielberg's instincts are ever off the mark.) If Spielberg wanted to portray Lincoln as a closeted cannibal or a frustrated tap-dancer, that would be well within his rights as a filmmaker. (Of course he won't -- just making a point.)

And the test of a good actor is their ability to stretch and inhabit a wide range of characters. Think of Sean Penn in Milk. Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote. Meryl Streep in Doubt. Charlize Theron in Monster. Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry. See what I'm getting at?

I have no doubt that Daniel Day-Lewis will make a magnificent Abraham Lincoln. (I have no doubt that Daniel Day-Lewis would make a magnificent Mary Todd Lincoln! A cardboard box, that man could play. Seriously.)

Do you think an American actor should have been cast as Abraham Lincoln instead of Daniel Day-Lewis?


Image via Splash