Team of Rivals

Despite the fact that his most recent film War Horse has yet to even be released, talk about Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Abraham Lincoln biopic Lincoln has already started to increase. And, in my mind, that makes sense. Lincoln stars Daniel Day-Lewis as one of the most iconic historical figures that has ever existed. War Horse stars…a horse. In Monday’s edition of the Orlando Sentinel, they managed to get an interview with the legendary director, who spoke briefly on what his Lincoln pic would be about. According to Spielberg, “we’re basing it on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, ‘Team of Rivals,’ but we’re only focusing in on the last four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life.” That information helps add some context to another bit of Lincoln news that popped up today: Deadline Crawfordville’s report that Jackie Earle Haley has joined the cast in the role of Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens. We’re all used to seeing Haley play roles where he does things like brutally murder people or molest little children, so it’s easy to imagine that he’s been tapped to play Stephens because they’re portraying him as a contemptible racist in the film; but that might not end up being the case. Stephens is most famous for his Cornerstone Speech, in which he said that, “our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior […]

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As a general rule, it’s always a good thing when Lee Pace is cast in anything at all ever. He’s a stellar actor that’s proven his range and his leading man ability in everything from the TV show Pushing Daisies (gone too soon…) to The Fall. Now, according to Deadline Gettysburg, Pace will be playing a supporting role as former New York mayor and early Confederate supporter Fernando Wood in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. This cast is unreal to begin with and the inclusion of Pace is more of the brilliant same. Fortunately, it also gives us a clue as to what the film will look like, because you don’t get a cast like this together without delivering an ensemble-focused story. Daniel Day-Lewis will have plenty of scenery to gnaw on as Lincoln, but there’s no doubt that the other characters will play important (even if sometimes small), pivotal roles. That’s speculation of course, but the point is that even the smaller roles in Spielberg’s historical look at our favorite President are being filled by massive talent. A reminder that there are no small parts in the team of rivals.

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In person, Walton Goggins is an incredibly nice guy. On television and in movies, he can be incredibly unnerving. It’s the eyes. Fortunately, according to Deadline Warren, Goggins has just been cast as Ohio Congressman Wells Andrews Hutchins for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. Hutchins, a man with a frighteningly short Wikipedia entry and all three of his names pluralized, was a Democrat who went against his party in order to vote for the Thirteenth Amendment which abolished (on paper) slavery in the United States. He was also the provost marshal for Ohio during the Civil War (a fact which might just come into play in the movie). Goggins joins Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Strathairn, Tommy Lee Jones, John Hawkes, Hal Holbrook, Bruce McGill, and Tim Blake Nelson in what is clearly Spielberg’s attempt to buy the pot at the Oscars. Undoubtedly, Goggins can hold his own. He’s emerging as one of the most talented character actors of this generation, and it’s great to see him get this kind of work. He’ll next be seen fighting aliens as a cowboy in Cowboys & Aliens and fighting a cowardly home owner in Straw Dogs.

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