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SAG Awards 2013: Daniel Day-Lewis wins lead actor prize

January 27, 2013|By John Horn
  • Sally Field and Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln."
Sally Field and Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln." (Dreamworks/Disney )

Daniel Day-Lewis won the male actor in a leading role prize at the 19th Screen Actors Guild Awards for his starring role as the 16th president in Steven Spielberg's historical epic "Lincoln."  

In winning the SAG honor, Day-Lewis beat out John Hawkes from “The Sessions,” Hugh Jackman in “Les Misérables,” Bradley Cooper for “ Silver Linings Playbook” and Denzel Washington for “Flight.”

Day-Lewis, known for his perfectionist preparation, is no stranger to the winner’s circle.

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In addition to his lead actor Oscar nomination for “Lincoln,” where he is considered the heavy favorite, he has been shortlisted for the leading acting Academy Award four previous times, winning the Oscar statuette for 2007’s “There Will Be Blood” and 1989’s “My Left Foot.”

He previously won two SAG awards for male actor in a leading role, for 2002's "Gangs of New York" and "There Will Be Blood." Earlier in the evening, Tommy Lee Jones won the male actor in a supporting role prize for his work in "Lincoln" as Rep. Thaddeus Stevens.

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Day-Lewis' starring role in “Lincoln” already has landed the British-born performer a raft of honors, including a best actor nomination in the BAFTA awards and recognition from film critics organizations in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New York and Washington. He won the acting prize from the National Society of Film Critics and took the Golden Globe for top dramatic actor.

At one point, Liam Neeson had been attached to play the 16th president, and Day-Lewis some 10 years ago declined to star in the film. He changed his mind after Leonardo DiCaprio begged the actor to reconsider starring in Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner’s movie.

Once in the production, the 55-year-old Day-Lewis spent a year preparing, delving into Lincoln's speeches and writing. 

There are no recordings of Lincoln's speaking, so to find his character's intonation, Day-Lewis relied on written reports from the era that said Lincoln spoke in a high pitch. The actor read Lincoln's writing aloud, whereupon he found the film’s distinctive twang.

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