Steven Spielberg's 'Lincoln': Could this be the most awards-laden cast ever?

Spielberg: NBC; Day-Lewis: Bob Charlotte/PR Photos; Oscar Statuette: ©A.M.P.A.S.®

With the news yesterday that Steven Spielberg’s long-in-the-works biopic Lincoln finally has its start date (Fall 2011) and lead star (Daniel Day-Lewis), we couldn’t help but notice the serious accolades adorning every corner of the film already: The director has won three Oscars (and an Irving G. Thalberg Award), and has been nominated seven more times; the star has won two Oscars, and two more nods; the book the film is based on, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin; and the screenplay was penned by Pulitzer Prize, Tony, and Emmy-award winner Tony Kushner, who won an Oscar nod for his screenplay for Spielberg’s 2005 thriller, Munich.

That’s a lot of hardware already, enough to make this movie pretty much an automatic Oscar contender for 2012. But first, they’ve got to cast that eponymous team of rivals for Lincoln’s cabinet, his wife, and (likely) his assassin John Wilkes Booth. And in the spirit of Kearns Goodwin’s book, it just made sense to us that the rest of the cast also be a team of rivals… for Oscar nominations. So, forthwith, our guesses for what could be one of the most Oscar-laden casts ever: 

First up, Mary Todd Lincoln. Nine years her husband’s junior, she was famously wracked with depression while living in the White House — the death of your 12-year-old son and siblings in the Civil War (fighting for the Confederacy, no less) can do that to a person. Candidates: Hilary Swank (two Oscars); Kate Winslet (one Oscar, five nominations other than her winning one).

William Henry Seward, Lincoln’s Secretary of State and eight years his senior, was long considered the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 1860, until Lincoln won the support of major G.O.P. party big-wig and newspaper magnate Horace Greeley (cameo by two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks). He survived an assassination attempt the same night of Lincoln’s murder, even though he’d been stabbed in the neck and face. Candidates: Robert De Niro (two Oscars, four other nominations); Tommy Lee Jones (one Oscar, two other nominations);

Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln’s first Secretary of the Treasury, was another Republican candidate for president against Lincoln. He famously put himself on the very first federal $1 bill. Candidates: Kevin Spacey (two Oscars); Sean Penn (two Oscars, three other nominations)

Edward Bates, Lincoln’s Attorney General who was 15 years his senior, was Lincoln’s third major rival for the Republican nomination in 1860. Candidates: Jack Nicholson (three Oscars, nine nominations); Dustin Hoffman (two Oscars; five other nominations)

Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, the leader of the Union Army and 13 years Lincoln’s junior, won the Civil War and was a devoted supporter of the president. Candidates: Philip Seymour Hoffman (one Oscar, two other nominations); Russell Crowe (one Oscar, two other nominations)

John Wilkes Booth, the 26-year-old actor and Confederate sympathizer shot Lincoln in the back of the head at point-blank range mere days after the official end of the Civil War. He was caught and killed by Union soldiers 12 days later. Candidates: Ryan Gosling (one nomination); Casey Affleck (one nomination); Adrien Brody (one Oscar)

So what do you make of this speculative cast, PopWatchers? Do you think hiring only Oscar-celebrated actors proved to be the best policy? Or are there actors with fewer (or no) official accolades who are better fits for these roles?

More on Lincoln:
Daniel Day-Lewis to play President Lincoln in Steven Spielberg biopic
Liam Neeson no longer Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’
Steven Spielberg plans to push ahead with his Lincoln film
Steven Spielberg denies rumors that his Lincoln project has been shelved

Comments (166 total) Add your comment
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  • annie

    then, the previews would be extra-long with all the epithets.

    • Shuler

      Robin Williams for Ulysses S. Grant!!

      • Julie marin

        Absolutely perfect!

      • brenna

        Ummm… no.

      • Jesse

        to old

      • Chichi

        Finally, all the black people in Hollywood will get work … they’ll need slaves for this, right?

      • john beefelt

        Robin Williams is perfect the reincarnation of Grant, Johnny Deep is Booth

  • Mike

    Casting a roster of award-winning actors is not really Spielberg’s style though. He casts for the roll, not the awards.

    • Sourdough

      Casts for the roll? Hope this movie makes a lotta bread! And by that, I mean dough! It’ll make at Yeast 80 million! It’s got star power AND Flour power!

      • Molly

        HAHA! Hats off to you, sir.

      • Kris

        LOL EPIC!

      • Kaiser

        I love you, sourdough.

      • Mcfly

        Steven Spielberg presents, CINNABON:THE MOVIE

    • Larry

      Rolls? This movie is about Abraham Lincoln, not William Howard Taft.

      • Chris P.

        I’m sure half the people who read your post won’t understand how funny it was.

      • Graham

        Yeah, but those of us who know about Taft and his bathtub are … well, rolling. I’m still snickering. (Whoops: Now I’m waiting for a wisecrack about rolls, Snickers, and Taft.)

  • two cents

    Please do not let Hillary Swank anywhere near this film. She can not do period drama. period.

    • Buffy Freak

      Agree..I like Hillary Swank but not as Mary Todd Lincoln.

    • LOL

      Sarah Palin as Mary Todd Lincoln. She’s got the crazy down pat.

      • Maksim

        lol…sarah palin isnt an actress lol

      • MCS


      • Mister

        Of course Sarah Palin is an actress, her entire personality is a cover for her career as a jewel thief.

      • john beefelt

        You political people always find a way to turn the post into yahoo’s message board

    • sarah d

      Mary Todd Lincoln was short and squat (not a diss, just being truthful), they should hire an actress accordingly.

      • sarah d

        If they wanted to pretty her up a bit they could ask Ginnifer Goodwin to put some weight back on and play her. I would be okay with that. Cause clearly it’s my approval that matters : p

      • Leslie

        That’s exactly what I was thinking…they need a skinny actress that can look chubby. Kate could probably pull it off…Renee Zellweger? Or someone like Marcia Gar Harden? Maybe too old…

      • Leslie

        *Marcia Gay Harden* Typo.

      • Kat

        How about Sally Field as Mary Lincoln?

      • derek

        Yeah, if you’ve ever seen a picture of Mary Todd Lincoln, the idea of Kate Winslet playing her is absurd. Too bad Anne Ramsey is dead. Maybe Kathy Bates, but an unknown would be even better. If they cast a hottie in the role, I wouldn’t be able to take the movie seriously.

      • Brian Hartman

        I like the idea of Cathy Bates playing Mary Lincoln. I think that would work.

        I agree with you that casting a starlet in the role would make the movie laughable.

      • Devin

        And the Nostrodamus Casting Award goes to…. Kat!! Come on down, Kat, and pick your Nos!

    • Stevie V

      no HIllary Swank…..please no.

      I would be ok with Kate Winslett maybe Laura Linney or even Charlize Theron…but NO HILLARY

      • Brian Hartman

        Charlize Theron would need a *lot* of CGI to be credible in the role.

    • kat

      hilary swank would ruin it

  • Del Taco

    Lincoln ???? Is that the old dude on the penny ????
    Is this gonna be in 3D?
    Will Justin Beiber music be included??
    Are there gonna be transforming robots and teenage vampires??
    Is Betty White doing a cameo?
    If not, I’ll pass on this movie.

    • Buffy Freak

      Nicely done Del Taco! lol!

    • Joshua Morrow

      so Hilarius I put it on my facebook page. you should send that to readers digest. They pay you for that stuff.

      Put it like this..

      Heard on a comment board about the upcoming Lincoln biopic directed by Steven Spielberg.

      Lincoln ???? Is that the old dude on the penny ????
      Is this gonna be in 3D?
      Will Justin Beiber music be included??
      Are there gonna be transforming robots and teenage vampires??
      Is Betty White doing a cameo?
      If not, I’ll pass on this movie.

      you get the idea.

    • john beefelt

      No Betty isn’t doing a cameo but she might be able to lend historical perspective given she was around during the Civil War

  • eyeheartnyc

    Didn’t Gwyneth Paltrow practically audition for the part of Mary Todd Lincoln on last week’s episode of Glee?

    • Anna

      That teapot’s spreading lies about me!

      • tracy bluth

        That can’t be my baby because I don’t love it!

    • Courtney

      this is the first person who came to my mind haha.

    • Amy

      LOL. She was great.

  • Zo

    Oooh… Tony Kushner! LOVE YOU! So excited for this!

  • TheRealEverton

    Could be full of “huh? Are you sure they haven’t won an Oscar” types; like Ed Harris, Gary Oldman and Miley Cyrus. Ok maybe not Miley.

    • J20

      Whatever Gary Oldman does is amazing. He’d be a fabulous choice! I think since Daniel Day Lewis isn’t American, we should at least have an American woman playing the wife of one of the most famous Americans!

      • Ricky

        umm… What does their nationality have to do with it… They’re actors their job is to play characters of any race nationality or species…

    • tracy bluth

      I want Gary Oldman to have an Oscar NOW. He could literally just say “Hi” and be Oscar worthy.

      • Prunella Von Schleidlhaagen

        Truer words were never spoken, Tracy. Kudos.

      • TheRealEverton

        Exactly, the man’s pure class and will probably end up with some annoying “lifetime achievement” award when they realise that somehow he wasmnevee in the “right” at the right time to win the sackful of Oscars he’s capable of.

      • Mib815

        Idk I love oldman maybe he could pull off an accent like Robert e lee…

      • reel_deal

        Unfortunately, Oldman may never win an Oscar because he is very critical of the nomination process (lobbying for films/actors, politics coming before art etc) and they don’t take kind to it.

      • Mr. Holloway

        Never mind Oldman actually WINNING one…can we start with him actually picking up a nomination at some point?!

  • Rica

    Evidently Lindsay Lohan needs the work. She’d bring in the all-important history-is-boring-and-stupid demographic. She could be Salmon P. Chase!

    • Waage

      Lindsay Lohan would be awesome as Slut P. R. Rostitute W. Adrug Pr. Oblem… that one she could nail… that real ones? noope!

    • john beefelt

      I’m sure she could be a harlot or she could be one of the plotters to kill Lincoln

  • Padraig

    Hiring a bunch of Oscar winners doesn’t always guarantee success. Take a look at the 1978 disaster flick “The Swarm” which featured past Oscar winners Olivia de Havilland, Ben Johnson, Lee Grant, Jose Ferrar, and Patty Duke along with future Oscar winners (and previous nominees) Henry Fonda and Michael Caine. It was a complete dud both critically and commercially.

    • William

      Yeah but seriously the premise of “The Swarm” is a bee invasion. This is about Abraham Lincoln…already the subject matter is Oscar worthy.

      • Tully

        Are you kidding me?! Therefore, if he makes a movie about Mother Theresa, it’ll be Oscar worthy? Hopefully the movie won’t be boring. Remember Amistad?

    • Iliana

      Agreed, Padraig. And let’s not forget last year’s NINE, with its Oscar-winning/Oscar nominated cast and director and its pedigree as a film based on a Tony-winning musical based on a highly regarded film by master filmmaker and Oscar-winner Federico Felline. In the end, the film flopped, got terrible reviews and didn’t sweep the Oscars like many predicted.

      • bootsycolumbia

        I’ve got another one for you, Iliana and Padraig. All the King’s Men. The original version from the ’40s starred Broderick Crawford (he won the Oscar for it), and is a fantastic movie. The remake from a few years ago starred Sean Penn, Kate Winslet and a lot of other big names and was just horrible. Proof that star power doesn’t guarantee a great movie experience.

  • Tom

    I’m sure that when the final product is finished, Spike Lee will start raisin’ a stink about the portrayal of slaves. Let’s be historcial about its portrayal and not make it look hunky-dory ala the color purple’s portrayals.

    • g

      The Color Purple took place AFTER slavery ended. What exactly was hunky dory about The Color Purple?

    • Seth

      “The Color Purple” was one of the most depressing films I’ve ever seen! Nothing was ‘hunky-dory’ about it!

      • Donna

        No kidding. It’s why I actually hate that movie.

    • TheRealEverton

      Is there another version of The Colour Purple that I don’t know about? Spielberg’s was NOT Gone With The Wind, and I don’t remember much happiness in it at all.

      Also, as above, there’s no slavery in this

  • JD

    With a Brit playing the President of the United States, can we at least have a supporting cast of Americans??

    • M

      God forbid someone else from another country gets a role. What is worng with you?? The movie should not be cast on what awards you’ve won or what country you’re from, but on who is right for the role

    • sarah d

      Scarlet O’Hara was played by a Brit. The leads in Cold Mountain were UK-ers. As long as the acting is good I feel like, who cares? Besides we have Brits play Russian and French historical figures all the time…

      • bootsycolumbia

        Actually, Nicole Kidman is from Australia, not the UK.

  • Buffy Freak

    How about Emily Watson for Mary Todd Lincoln?

    • sharpie

      She was the first person that came to mind for me too! She looks quite a bit like Mary Todd, plus she’s a great actress.

    • Celimene

      She’s totally underused and wonderful. Though lately, Samantha Morton seems to get all the “melancholy yet tough” Brit roles instead of her.

    • bootsycolumbia

      Hell, yeah! She’d be great!

  • john

    russell crowe won 2 oscars–gladiator and a beautiful mind

    • shawshank

      no, he didn’t win for beautiful mind, denzel washington beat him that year for training day.

      • Laura K.

        Didn’t he win supporting for The Insider, though?

      • Buffy Freak

        No he didn’t win for The Insider…he was nominated for Best Actor for it but lost to Kevin Spacey.

  • Al

    I would like to see the film use the actual Seward house which is located in Auburn,New York which is west of Syracuse. That would be cool.

  • Tori

    Tom Hanks should be Lincoln. They are related after all. (and yes, before you all jump on me, I know the part has already been cast.)

    • tracy bluth

      Tom Hanks should totally be in this!!!!

    • dan

      Actually, I think Tom Hanks’ son Colin would be well-cast as Lincoln’s son Robert. Look ‘im up.

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