Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert in Steven Spielberg’s film Lincoln, didn’t really get to meet the actor who plays the 16th president -- Daniel Day-Lewis -- until after they shot the entire film.
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Known for his method acting, Day-Lewis already had gone into character when Gordon-Levitt came to the set.
“It’s fantastic getting to work with someone who is giving so much to it, is so committed and so focused,” Gordon-Levitt, 31, tells The Hollywood Reporter of working with Day-Lewis. "It makes it very easy for me to draw that off of him. The moment I’m in his presence I get swept up in the world and into character and you don’t have to fake anything.”
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Also starring Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln follows the 16th president as he tries to get the 13th Amendment passed, which abolished slavery.
“Back then it was a very controversial issue, and a lot of people were fighting about it,” says Gordon-Levitt. "And he had to do a lot of wheeling and dealing just to take a step forward."
Lincoln’s personal life also is explored through his complicated relationship with his wife Mary Todd Lincoln (Field) and his eldest son Robert (Gordon-Levitt), who wanted to join the Union Army despite his father’s protests.
Day-Lewis is known for his thorough research before taking on any role and for staying in character for the duration of a shoot. Lincoln was no different: the actor spent a year preparing for the role, read more than 100 books on the 16th president and worked tirelessly with makeup artists to re-create his look.
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Gordon-Levitt, who has starred in a slew of movies in 2012, including The Dark Knight Rises, Premium Rush and Looper, says that though he didn’t get to meet Day-Lewis before he went into character, he did receive several text messages from the actor during the course of the shoot.
“I was also lucky enough to be there on the last day of shooting, so I got to see him shed the character,” he says.
“When we were celebrating that night, I finally met Daniel and heard his own voice in person for the first time,” he adds. “He was just wearing jeans and a T-shirt and reminded me of a lot of my friends.”
Watch THR’s full interview with Gordon-Levitt above.
Lincoln, currently in limited release, opens wide on Nov. 16
Email: Rebecca.Ford@thr.com; Twitter: @Beccamford