Worth Reading: Daniel Day-Lewis on Playing Lincoln

DDO as Lincoln

Image from DreamWorks Pictures

About a month ago, in the hubbub surrounding the release of “Lincoln”, Charles McGrath of the New York Times wrote about an actor, Daniel Day-Lewis, and his embodiment of our 16th president.  He said:

Mr. Day-Lewis, who has a deep voice and a British accent, not in the least Lincoln-like, prefers not to talk much about his method of acting. He doesn’t entirely understand it himself, he says, and doesn’t want to. “There’s a tendency now to deconstruct and analyze everything,” he said during a recent interview in New York, “and I think that’s a self-defeating part of the enterprise.”

It is refreshing to witness an artist simply do his thing and let it speak for itself. It is to his credit that Daniel Day-Lewis manages such restraint in an article that attempts to get to the core of his “method.” Silence by the actor before the sweep of his transcendent work – before beauty? – may be the only really appropriate response.

As for the viewer? You watch the movie and you don’t think to yourself, “I am watching brilliant acting.” You watch it and think to yourself, “Abraham Lincoln is up there, saying things. Maybe I should listen.” Such success takes effort, of which Daniel Day-Lewis says this:

It sounds pretentious, I know. I recognize all the practical work that needs to be done, the dirty work, which I love: the work in the soil, the rooting around in the hope that you might find a gem. But I need to believe that there is a cohesive mystery that ties all these things together, and I try not to separate them.

If you are interested, the full piece can be found here.

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