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Daniel Day-Lewis explains the inspiration for his Lincoln voice

Oct. 26, 2012by: Alex Maidy

The LINCOLN trailer has been a topic of debate amongst movie fans primarily for the choices that Daniel Day-Lewis took with the voice for the 16th President. At a recent Q&A in New York, Day-Lewis was directly asked about the voice and his reasons were quite interesting.

He explained "You begin with the places that would have made a huge difference in his life. Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois, and the counties that he came from. There are some early recordings, but no contemporary recordings -- lucky for me, so no one can say positively that it’s not what he sounded like...And beyond that, I suppose it really was just an act of imagination."

I was definitely taken aback by his voice but each time I see the trailer it doesn't catch me as odd anymore. It is interesting that whenever we imagine our great historical figures from before the ability to record audio we assume they sounded like William Wallace or Leonidas. But, if Viggo Mortensen can lead the armies of Middle Earth without a bass voice, I can deal with LINCOLN sounding like this.

Day-Lewis took an entire year to prepare himself for the role of LINCOLN which keeps with his widely reported work ethic. My personal favorite role of his career is in GANGS OF NEW YORK, which as you can see above (thanks Derek237!) has a nice connection with the upcoming Spielberg film.

LINCOLN opens everywhere on November 9th.

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1:44PM on 10/30/2012

About Gangs of New York

Bill the Butcher is by far the best acted character from any movie - better than Ledger's Joker (imo)
Bill the Butcher is by far the best acted character from any movie - better than Ledger's Joker (imo)
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+5
7:15AM on 10/28/2012
his quite is pretty much "Im Daniel Day-Lewis i know what the fuck im doing."
his quite is pretty much "Im Daniel Day-Lewis i know what the fuck im doing."
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3:04AM on 10/27/2012
As a bit of a Lincoln nut, I gotta say DDL has got it almost precisely what I imagined. A bit squeaky, very folksy but also a bit nerdy, with a fair amount of backwoods Kentucky twang.

I'm a little ambivalent about the movie...I'm not expecting Spielberg to take many big risks...but DDL's performance will be worth admission.
As a bit of a Lincoln nut, I gotta say DDL has got it almost precisely what I imagined. A bit squeaky, very folksy but also a bit nerdy, with a fair amount of backwoods Kentucky twang.

I'm a little ambivalent about the movie...I'm not expecting Spielberg to take many big risks...but DDL's performance will be worth admission.
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1:03AM on 10/27/2012
I remember quote in article about Lincoln taken from one of the oldest living Americans at the time who was around during Lincoln's presidency, who described Lincoln voice as rather squeaky. No comment about the accent though. Whatever DDL's instincts are, I go with them.
I remember quote in article about Lincoln taken from one of the oldest living Americans at the time who was around during Lincoln's presidency, who described Lincoln voice as rather squeaky. No comment about the accent though. Whatever DDL's instincts are, I go with them.
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11:46PM on 10/26/2012

I Can Dig It....

Lincoln, his family being from back in regions of Virginia, then settling in Kentucky and later when he was 9 moving to Indiana and then finally Illinois, would have a thick country accent. First brought on by his parents and then by his living his first years in Kentucky. I like DDL's Lincoln voice so far. I have only heard a little of it in the trailers (the "now, now, now" sounds pretty good). I'd have to think that Lincoln had a longer drawn out "I" sound than DDL is portraying though
Lincoln, his family being from back in regions of Virginia, then settling in Kentucky and later when he was 9 moving to Indiana and then finally Illinois, would have a thick country accent. First brought on by his parents and then by his living his first years in Kentucky. I like DDL's Lincoln voice so far. I have only heard a little of it in the trailers (the "now, now, now" sounds pretty good). I'd have to think that Lincoln had a longer drawn out "I" sound than DDL is portraying though (more like the Confederates that he was battling than the sound from New England). It only goes to figure.

Regardless, I personally can't wait to see this one. The trailer gives me goose bumps.
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6:16PM on 10/26/2012

More on Lincoln's voice

Solid article from Smithsonianmag on Lincoln's voice. Take a gander if you're interested: [link]
Solid article from Smithsonianmag on Lincoln's voice. Take a gander if you're interested: [link]
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5:01PM on 10/26/2012

i can get used to it

The only reason i think i got used to the bass, deep baritone voice was through Disneyland's Great Moments with Lincoln. So why would i think my impression of his voice is "more accurate or suitable"? No recordings of Lincoln's voice actually exist but as far as written period descriptions go, his voice was "a little shriller, a little higher". I mean there's more to the performance than just the pitch of the character's voice, especially one that's never been recorded on an audio device. Just
The only reason i think i got used to the bass, deep baritone voice was through Disneyland's Great Moments with Lincoln. So why would i think my impression of his voice is "more accurate or suitable"? No recordings of Lincoln's voice actually exist but as far as written period descriptions go, his voice was "a little shriller, a little higher". I mean there's more to the performance than just the pitch of the character's voice, especially one that's never been recorded on an audio device. Just because it doesn't hit our sweet spot of our "unique" hearing doesn't make the interpretation itself inaccurate or unsuitable. The performance is in the combination and the culmination of his gestures, his mannerisms, his cadence, the power and logic of his speech, and the context of the understanding and deliberation he put into them. So like i said, i can get used to it (i'm actually already used to it) because this could very well be pretty close to what he actually or possibly sounded like. And if not, i'm not gonna let such a thing turn me off from appreciating possibly everything else in the movie. What kind of film-lover would that make me? Let's see how the performance and the movie plays out. I think if i went in hating the voice than i probably would end up fixated on that personal nagging factor while a potentially great movie unfolds in front of me. oh hell naw!
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4:52PM on 10/26/2012

I have no problems with his voice

I'm seeing this next Thursday. Looking forward to it. :)
I'm seeing this next Thursday. Looking forward to it. :)
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+0
4:30PM on 10/26/2012
This is the movie I'm most excited about this fall. Daniel Day Lewis + Steven Spielberg + historical drama = Oscar. Nough said.
This is the movie I'm most excited about this fall. Daniel Day Lewis + Steven Spielberg + historical drama = Oscar. Nough said.
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4:12PM on 10/26/2012

Oscars?

is it still too early to talk award season yet? I have a feeling this is gonna be one of the toughest years for the Oscars in a long time. I'll just start with best Actor hopefuls

Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Matthew McConaughey (Killer Joe)
Hugh Jackman (Les Mis)
Matt Damon (Promised Land)
Bill Murray (Hyde Park on the Hudson)
Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly)
Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock)
Bradley Cooper (Silver Lining Playbook)
Denzel Washinton (Flight)
Joaquin Pheonix (The
is it still too early to talk award season yet? I have a feeling this is gonna be one of the toughest years for the Oscars in a long time. I'll just start with best Actor hopefuls

Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Matthew McConaughey (Killer Joe)
Hugh Jackman (Les Mis)
Matt Damon (Promised Land)
Bill Murray (Hyde Park on the Hudson)
Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly)
Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock)
Bradley Cooper (Silver Lining Playbook)
Denzel Washinton (Flight)
Joaquin Pheonix (The Master)

And those are just the obvious choices
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3:42PM on 10/26/2012
In Day-Lewis I trust
In Day-Lewis I trust
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-5
3:36PM on 10/26/2012
This is the movie I'm most excited about this fall. Daniel Day Lewis + Steven Spielberg + historical drama = Oscar. Nough said.
This is the movie I'm most excited about this fall. Daniel Day Lewis + Steven Spielberg + historical drama = Oscar. Nough said.
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3:48PM on 10/26/2012
lol @ oscar = nuff said.
lol @ oscar = nuff said.
-15
3:28PM on 10/26/2012

well personally

if he says that there isn't much to base it on and that he took some liberties with it... then I wish he would have made some DIFFERENT choices for it, and taken some different liberties, because I don't like it and apparently it's not as 'authentic' as I've heard some claim. Would've preferred, well, not this voice. Hope the movie's still good but I'm strangely unexcited for this one.
if he says that there isn't much to base it on and that he took some liberties with it... then I wish he would have made some DIFFERENT choices for it, and taken some different liberties, because I don't like it and apparently it's not as 'authentic' as I've heard some claim. Would've preferred, well, not this voice. Hope the movie's still good but I'm strangely unexcited for this one.
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