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Casting Challenges: Can A Guy With Pierced Ears Play Lincoln?

posted by Nell Minow

The LA Times has a great article by Rebecca Keegan about the challenges of casting actors in period movies because of changing body types and choices.

With his concave cheekbones, lanky build and grooved brow, Daniel Day-Lewis replicates Abraham Lincoln more accurately than the head of a penny.

His performance in “Lincoln” has earned rousing endorsements from Civil War historians, but close watchers of the film have spotted one glaring anachronism in this otherwise honest Abe — earring holes.

Day-Lewis, a meticulous actor known for disappearing into his roles, had the tattoos on his hands and forearms covered by wardrobe and makeup. He removed gold hoops from his ears. But despite makeup, the piercings were still visible.


Director Ang Lee found it a challenge to cast “Taking Woodstock” because today’s actors are much more toned than the people who attended the Woodstock concert in 1968.  It was also hard for him to find actors who had not removed their body hair.  Keegan describes the same problem with last year’s “Not Fade Away,” also set in the late 60’s.  And “Lincoln’s” problems extended beyond its title character.  There were plenty of Civil War re-enactors in the Richmond area who were happy to be in the movie, but most of them were well-fed or overweight, and, as someone who was working on the movie told me, “There were no fat people in the Civil War.”  Keegan notes, “Teeth whitening, plastic surgery, body piercings, weight training, healthful eating and yoga have made it a challenge to find the perfect period performer.”

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rach

    I was just talking about this to family and friends yesterday. When seeing Lincoln, I noticed the pierced ears right off. I wondered why they didn’t CG them out if the makeup didn’t work in covering it up? I recall Disney having issues with casting for the Pirates movie; they specifically were looking for women who did not have breast implants, other types of plastic surgery, being toned, having tattoos, and body weight. Maybe this will be an opportunity for other actors who have been trying to break out for years that have not gone through these physical changes to have work?

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