The long-gestating Steven Spielberg movie about Abraham Lincoln, based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's acclaimed Team of Rivals, has lost one Lincoln (Liam Neeson) and hired another (Daniel Day-Lewis).
There are rumors that Spielberg plans to begin shooting in the fall of 2011. Toward this end, a production team including "the man who would be Lincoln" recently met with a representative of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency doing research. Evidently they toured Lincoln sites and viewed some Lincoln artifacts.
Neeson was reported to have done such research during his several years of association with the project, so development scouting does not mean that the film will definitely be shot. However, there are some indications that this effort may finally come to fruition. Spielberg's calendar is open for shooting this fall -- before beginning his anticipated sci-fi Robopocalypse in early 2012; Tony Kushner, the Pulitzer Prize-winning screenwriter, has been publicly touting his screenplay in recent months; Day-Lewis is the sort of actor whose prestige projects are always taken seriously (this will only be his fifth film in the past decade). More important than all of these, though, is the slate of other Lincoln films in production, especially Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which means that several studios believe there is a market for Lincoln right now.
I hope the film will one day be shot, as a new Lincoln-related movie is long overdue. However, I am sad that Neeson withdrew from the project. Unlike others who believe the project has awards written all over it, I think that Neeson (even at age 59) would be a better fit for Lincoln than Day-Lewis. Some point to Day-Lewis' obvious -- even extraordinary -- talents, and his performance may be compelling, but after seeing Neeson in Kinsey, I became convinced that he could offer a definitive Lincoln.