Web Extra: Lincoln, The ‘Prose Poet’

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In this web-only clip, screenwriter Tony Kushner and Bill discuss what inspires Americans — from politicians to historians to screenwriters — to examine Abraham Lincoln and his legacy again and again. Kushner talks about how he collaborated with actor Daniel Day-Lewis and director Steven Spielberg on the screenplay, and recalls how Day-Lewis asked him to include some of his favorite stories that Lincoln had told.

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  • Ron Haag

    Bill’s interview with Tony Kushner reminded me of an incident(s) that occurred when
    Pres. Lincoln attended the theatre on prior occasions. Lincoln liked the plays of Wm.
    Shakespeare often attending Ford’s or Grover’s theatre whenever such a production
    was being put on at either stage. On at least two occasions John Wilkes Booth was in the cast of these productions. I’m certain one of these plays was “Julius Caesar” in
    which Booth was cast in the role of one of Caesar’s assassins or played a character,
    (Mark Antony?), out to avenge Caesar’s death. Whichever role Booth had it must have
    had lines proclaiming death to Caesar, “sic temper tyrannis”, or some other line pro-
    claiming vengeance. Whenever Booth was performing in a role that included a line
    that expressed anger or vengeance he would look up towards the President’s box, if
    Lincoln was in attendance the night, & use the line as an opportunity to vent his deep-
    seated hatred of the sixteenth president. I can’t recall where I learned of this obscure
    story; it might be in historian Jim Bishop’s book “The Day Lincoln was Shot.” Anyway
    these encounters were frequent enough for a guest accompanying the Lincolns to the
    theatre to remark that Booth was a man that needed to be watched. Lincoln agreed.

    A history buff
    Ron Haag
    ronaldhaag1952@centurylink.net