Day-Lewis heeded inner ear to find Lincoln's voice
FILE - This undated publicity photo released by DreamWorks and Twentieth Century Fox shows, Daniel Day-Lewis, center rear, as Abraham Lincoln, in a scene from the film, "Lincoln." Day-Lewis, who plays the 16th president in Steven Spielberg's epic film biography “Lincoln,” settled on a higher, softer voice, saying it's more true to descriptions of how the man actually spoke. “Lincoln” opened in limited release Nov. 9, 2012, and expands nationwide Friday, Nov. 16. (AP Photo/DreamWorks, Twentieth Century Fox, David James, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A towering figure such as Abraham Lincoln, who stood 6 feet 4 and was one of history's master orators, must have had a booming voice to match, right? Not in Daniel Day-Lewis' interpretation.
Day-Lewis, who plays the 16th president in Steven Spielberg's epic film biography "Lincoln," which goes into wide release this weekend, settled on a higher, softer voice, saying it's more true to descriptions of how the man actually spoke.
"There are numerous accounts, contemporary accounts, of his speaking voice. They tend to imply that it was fairly high, in a high register, which I believe allowed him to reach greater numbers of people when he was speaking publicly," Day-Lewis said in an interview. "Because the higher registers tend to reach farther than the lower tones, so that would have been useful to him."
FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012 photo, Daniel Day-Lewis arrives at the "Lincoln" premiere at AFI Fest at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California. “Lincoln,” which opened in limited release Nov. 9, 2012 and expands nationwide Friday, Nov. 16, is based partly on Doris Kearns Goodwin's book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” which chronicles how the president turned fierce opponents into allies during the Civil War. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP Images, File)
"Lincoln" is just the fifth film in the last 15 years for Day-Lewis, a two-time Academy Award winner for best actor ("My Left Foot" and "There Will Be Blood"). Much of his pickiness stems from a need to understand characters intimately enough to feel that he's actually living out their experiences.
The soft, reedy voice of his Lincoln grew out of that preparation.
"I don't separate vocal work, and I don't dismember a character into its component parts and then kind of bolt it all together, and off you go," Day-Lewis said. "I tend to try and allow things to happen slowly, over a long period of time. As I feel I'm growing into a sense of that life, if I'm lucky, I begin to hear a voice.