"On any given day, I learned quite a number of pieces of Lincoln's writing, so that I could live with those every day and speak them every day," Day-Lewis said. "The voice is a very deep, personal reflection of character in one way or another."
Physically, Day-Lewis, 55, was well equipped for the part — he is naturally long and angular, like Lincoln, who was 6 feet, 4 inches.
"I was already bearded and pretty slim by the time I got to the makeup room," Day-Lewis said. "Even though the work they did was quite beautiful and took a considerable amount of time ... nonetheless, the canvas before they worked on it, it wasn't like there was a huge transformation."
For 53 days in 2011 on the movie's Richmond, Va., set, Spielberg addressed his actors by their characters' names, including Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, David Strathairn as Secretary of State William Seward, Tommy Lee Jones as abolitionist Congressman Thaddeus Stevens and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Lincoln's son, Robert. The historical spirit of the set fit well with Day-Lewis' natural way of working, in which he often stays in character throughout a shoot.