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NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

FRESH AIR

Tony Kushner spent years writing the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s film Lincoln, but that wasn’t the only heavy lifting he had to do. It also took some effort to overcome Daniel Day-Lewis’ reluctance to play the title role. “I wanted to write to him and say, ‘Daniel, apart from the fact that you’re like one of the greatest actors ever, look in the mirror. God is trying to tell you something — you look like Abraham Lincoln!” Kushner tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies. Lincoln is based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography of the 16th president, Team of Rivals — which helped convince the actor to accept the part. Kushner says that reading the book made Day-Lewis “feel that he was playing a character, as opposed to Superman.” Kushner is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America. He also co-wrote the 2005 film Munich. Kushner, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for his play Angels in America, read more than 20 books about Lincoln as he prepared to write the screenplay. “The man was just kind of a miracle worker in terms of finessing almost impossible circumstances and getting a result that he felt that he needed,” Kushner says. “It was a combination of cunning [and] ruthlessness — he was sometimes very hard on his friends and asked them to make terrible sacrifices of their own ambitions.” MORE

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