Daniel Day Lewis sure has the looks of Abraham Lincoln… but does he have the voice?
The Irish-born actor transforms himself for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, set to hit theaters in November.
The visually striking profile seen in the teaser poster released last month proved that Lewis, who is a genius at disappearing into his roles, captured the appearance of the 16th President. But that’s not terribly complicated, as there are many photos and portraits of the slain Commander-in-Chief.
What doesn’t exist are recordings of his voice, as he died before the technology that could have captured it was invented. (Thomas Edison’s phonograph would not come around until 1877, 12 years after Lincoln’s assassination. Rutherford B. Hayes is believed to be the first President to have his voice recorded.)
The first trailer released in September gave us only a brief snippet of Lewis speaking. However, the trailer that debuted Wednesday night with the Presidential debate is filled with moments of Lewis delivering dialogue.
Most Americans likely expect Lincoln, with his tall stature and commanding presence, would have a deep, powerful tone. More Gregory Peck than Henry Ford.
However, according to Lincoln expert Harold Holzer, the late President’s voice was more falsetto than baritone.
“Lincoln’s voice, as far as period descriptions go, was a little shriller, a little higher,” the scholar and author of 40 books about Lincoln says, according to Smithsonian magazine.
Holzer also noted he spoke with a distinct twang, a mix of Indiana and Kentucky accents.
Lewis seems to have elected to remain true to this belief. His tone is high and throaty, sounding at times weak. I wouldn’t call it shrill, but still likely closer to the real thing than Benjamin Walker in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. There doesn’t seem to be a distinct accent, though. A little plain, honestly. But these are only short sentences and not full-out monologues, so perhaps it’s just not coming through.
Watch the trailer below and tell us what you think.