Neeson in talks to play Lincoln for Spielberg's historical epic

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Liam Neeson is set to follow Anthony Hopkins and Kenneth Branagh as America's choice to play one of its presidents. Neeson, who was born in Northern Ireland, is in talks with the director Steven Spielberg to star as Abraham Lincoln in a new American Civil War epic, according to the trade magazine, Variety.

Liam Neeson is set to follow Anthony Hopkins and Kenneth Branagh as America's choice to play one of its presidents. Neeson, who was born in Northern Ireland, is in talks with the director Steven Spielberg to star as Abraham Lincoln in a new American Civil War epic, according to the trade magazine, Variety.

Spielberg is said to have wanted to make a film about Lincoln since 2001 when his company, DreamWorks, bought the rights to a biography being written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin. That book is now expected to be published this autumn, by which time Spielberg will have completed his remake of the H G Wells classic, War of the Worlds, starring Tom Cruise.

The news coincides with a recent debate in America that left many a Republican feeling decidedly uncomfortable. A question mark has been raised over the sexuality of Lincoln, the founder of the party now seeking a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in America.

The sexuality of Lincoln has long been the subject of scholarly debate, with veiled references to his relationships with men made as early as the 1920s.

But it is a book, published this month, that claims to prove it. C A Tripp, the author of The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, provides evidence that the former president allegedly had relationships with Joshua Speed and David Derickson, the captain of his bodyguards.

While scholars in the past claim to have produced definitive proof that Lincoln was not gay, Tripp has uncovered letters between the president and Speed that supposedly betray an intimate relationship.

Yesterday, there was little indication as to how the president would be portrayed in terms of his sexuality in the pending Spielberg production. It was unknown if the movie would follow in the footsteps of the historical epic Alexander, in which Colin Farrell was derided by critics for portrayingthe lead as bisexual.

A spokesman for Spielberg refused to confirm casting for Abraham Lincoln, but sources claimed production could start as early as January.

Neeson, who has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance as the American sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, previously worked with Spielberg on Schindler's List.

Although it may appear odd that America should turn to British actors to play its presidents, directors have a lot of respect for classical British training, which is thought to bring gravitas to a project. Branagh was chosen to play Franklin D Roosevelt in Warm Springs and Hopkins portrayed Richard Nixon for Oliver Stone.

Comments