Day-Lewis heeded 'inner ear' to find Lincoln's voice
LOS ANGELES — 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.”
“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.
“And I don't mean in a supernatural sense. I begin to hear the sound of a voice, and if I like the sound of that, I live with that for a while in my mind's ear, whatever one might call it, my inner ear, and then I set about trying to reproduce that.”
Lincoln himself likely learned to use his voice to his advantage depending on the situation, Day-Lewis said.
“He was a supreme politician. I've no doubt in my mind that when you think of all the influences in his life, from his childhood in Kentucky and Indiana and a good part of his younger life in southern Illinois, that the sounds of all those regions would have come together in him somehow.
“And I feel that he probably learned how to play with his voice in public and use it in certain ways in certain places and in certain other ways in other places. Especially in the manner in which he expressed himself. I think, I've no doubt that he was conscious enough of his image.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Healthy, confident Steelers LB Shazier ready for full speed ahead
- Shaler man charged with homicide, abuse of corpse in McKeesport woman’s death
- 2 injured in Strip District shooting
- Historic WWII-era landing ship tank docking at Heinz Field
- ATI picketer injured at Harrison mill
- Pirates show depth in earning victory over Rockies; Polanco has big night
- New Orleans slow to heal 10 years after Hurricane Katrina
- FDA’s revised serving sizes on nutrition labels might backfire as endorsement
- Greensburg man charged with terroristic threats
- Man gets probation for sex with teen girl in New Kensington
- Despite being suspended, Boyd still making contributions for Pitt