Daniel Day-Lewis is the best working actor today. He’s extraordinary in everything he does, and he’s likely to win all the awards for his portrayal of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.
Many have said that he’s absolutely mastered Lincoln’s voice. But how did he do it? What’s his process? He explained it to the Huffington Post.
First, how did he narrow down what the voice sounded like? In fact, what does Lincoln’s voice sound like?
“There are numerous accounts, contemporary accounts, of his speaking voice. They tend to imply that it was fairly high, in a high register, which I believe allowed him to reach greater numbers of people when he was speaking publicly. Because the higher registers tend to reach farther than the lower tones, so that would have been useful to him.”
“I don’t separate vocal work, and I don’t dismember a character into its component parts and then kind of bolt it all together, and off you go. I tend to try and allow things to happen slowly, over a long period of time. As I feel I’m growing into a sense of that life, if I’m lucky, I begin to hear a voice.
“And I don’t mean in a supernatural sense. I begin to hear the sound of a voice, and if I like the sound of that, I live with that for a while in my mind’s ear, whatever one might call it, my inner ear, and then I set about trying to reproduce that.”
He even learned how to use his voice in the same way that Lincoln would use his voice.
“He was a supreme politician. I’ve no doubt in my mind that when you think of all the influences in his life, from his childhood in Kentucky and Indiana and a good part of his younger life in southern Illinois, that the sounds of all those regions would have come together in him somehow.
“And I feel that he probably learned how to play with his voice in public and use it in certain ways in certain places and in certain other ways in other places. Especially in the manner in which he expressed himself. I think, I’ve no doubt that he was conscious enough of his image.”
About the only thing he didn’t learn is how to kill vampires. [Huffington Post]