AFI Movie Club: LINCOLN – American Film Institute
Lincoln Film Still - Daniel Day-Lewis



To bring the historic story of President Abraham Lincoln to life, AFI Trustee and Life Achievement Award recipient Steven Spielberg teamed up with producer and AFI Chair Kathleen Kennedy, AFI Alum cinematographer Janusz Kaminski and AFI Life Achievement recipient John Williams.

The Los Angeles premiere of LINCOLN was held at the 2012 AFI FEST presented by Audi. Since 1987, AFI has celebrated the art of the moving picture with AFI FEST, bringing films both classic and contemporary, global and domestic, to audiences. The online edition of AFI FEST 2020 runs October 15-22, 2020. Go to for more information.

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LINCOLN – Reelgood


Movie Trivia about TODAY’S FILM

DID YOU KNOW? Director Steven Spielberg first approached Daniel Day-Lewis to play Lincoln in 2003, but Day-Lewis turned down the role. Liam Neeson was cast, but after the focus of the film was narrowed to covering the final four months of Lincoln’s life, Neeson opted to leave the project. Spielberg and writer Tony Kushner flew to Ireland to persuade Day-Lewis to reconsider, and, after reading the new script, Day-Lewis signed on.

DID YOU KNOW? When Daniel Day-Lewis agreed to take on the role of Abraham Lincoln, he did so with the caveat that he would have a year to prepare. In the preparation for the role, Day-Lewis read more than 100 books about Lincoln, spent many hours viewing photos of Lincoln and read Lincoln’s own words aloud until he felt he was able to capture the voice of the President.

DID YOU KNOW? When Daniel Day-Lewis found the voice for President Lincoln, he sent a tape to director Steven Spielberg at his offices on the Universal Studios Lot. The package was labeled “for your eyes only” and marked with a skull and crossbones. According to Spielberg, when he pressed play, “Abraham Lincoln” was speaking to him.

DID YOU KNOW? Director Steven Spielberg wore a suit and tie every day on set. According to the director, he did not want to look like a schlubby, baseball-cap-wearing, 21st century guy since they were recreating an important piece of history.

DID YOU KNOW? For the entire production, director Steven Spielberg addressed each actor by their character’s name – which included referring to Daniel Day-Lewis as “Mr. President.”

DID YOU KNOW? Director Steven Spielberg asked Sally Field to play Mary Todd Lincoln in 2005 – but when Daniel Day-Lewis took over the role of Lincoln, Spielberg was not certain the casting would still work. While President Lincoln was 10 years older than his wife, Field was 10 years older than Lewis. Field first tested for the role, then met with Day-Lewis in costume to record improvisations as their characters. By the time Sally Field got home from that test, she received a call from Spielberg and Day-Lewis asking her to be Mary Todd Lincoln. Field went on to be nominated for an Academy Award® for her performance.

DID YOU KNOW? LINCOLN was nominated for 12 Academy Awards® and won two Oscars®, including Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis and Best Production Design for Rick Carter and Jim Erickson. Day-Lewis become the first actor to win an Oscar® for a movie directed by Steven Spielberg and the first to win three Oscars® for Best Actor.

DID YOU KNOW? Every middle school and high school in America was given a free DVD of LINCOLN, along with an educator’s guide to help teachers as part of a social action campaign by Participant Media called “Stand Tall: Live Like Lincoln.”

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-Why were only the last four months of President Lincoln’s life depicted in LINCOLN? How was this time period more important than telling the story of his entire lifetime?
-What is the purpose of the scene consisting of Lincoln speaking with Black and white soldiers?
-How does the depiction of politics in LINCOLN compare with the political climate of today?
-What does Abraham Lincoln represent to the history of the United States? Does the man live up to his place as an American icon?
-How does the on-screen portrayal of historical figures, like Daniel Day-Lewis’ Lincoln, influence our understanding of history?
-Do director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner convey the historical importance of the time period and President Lincoln in the film? Do the changes to the story in the screenplay enhance or hinder the final film?
-How would you rate LINCOLN?

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