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    Daniel Day-Lewis' Lincoln Transformation: "He Got Quite Thin and Gaunt"

    Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln DreamWorks

    You'd think Steven Spielberg had planned the release of Lincoln to coincide with Election Day, but he didn't.

    Even if the movie opens in limited release on Nov. 9—just three days after the presidential election!

    "It never even entered our mind when we first started thinking about doing a movie about [Abraham] Lincoln," producer Kathleen Kennedy tells me. "We've been working on this for over a decade."

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    The idea for the project was hatched during the Millennium Celebration in 1999 when historian Doris Kearns Goodwin told Spielberg about Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, a book she had not yet started to write but would eventually become a basis for the movie.

    "Steven said, 'I've always been really interested in Lincoln and telling a story about Lincoln,'" Kennedy remembered. "So they stayed in touch as she wrote the book…It really did evolve over a long period of time."

    As we've already seen in some stills and the new trailer for Lincoln, star Daniel Day-Lewis appears to have actually transformed himself into our 16th president. As is always the case, he never broke from character during filming, even when the cameras weren't rolling.

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    "Obviously, we when cast Daniel we knew that in many respects, physically, he would look very much like Lincoln," Kennedy said. "But it was a combination of the work that was being done in the makeup and hair trailer and also what Daniel himself took on for the physical appearance. He got quite thin and gaunt. It was quite extraordinary to see him for the first time."

    This is not a biopic about Honest Abe. "It's really the last three or four months of his life and all the things that were really culminating at that point historically," Kennedy said. "What's really interesting about it is you get a sense of just what an incredible leader Lincoln was. In some ways, like today, the country was very divided and he had to walk this bipartisan path to get so much done in a relatively short amount of time."

    We have a feeling a White House screening is already in the works.

    Lincoln opens wide on Nov. 16.

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