Oscar speech: “I really don’t know how any of this happened. I do know that I’ve received so much more than my fair share of good fortune in my life and I’m so grateful to the Academy for this beautiful honor. It’s a strange thing because three years ago before we decided to do a straight swap, I had actually been committed to play Margaret Thatcher. [Laughs] And Meryl was Steven’s first choice for Lincoln. And I’d like to see that version. And Steven didn’t have to persuade me to play Lincoln but I had to persuade him that perhaps if I was going to do it that Lincoln shouldn’t be a musical. My fellow nominees, my equals, my betters, I’m so proud to have been included as one amongst you. When we got married 16 years ago, or since we got married 16 years ago, my wife Rebecca has lived with some very strange men. I mean they were strange as individuals and probably even stranger if taken as a group. But luckily she’s the versatile one in the family and she’s been the perfect companion to all of them. I’d like to thank Kathy Kennedy, our producer, and through you, Kathy, and through you our mighty team of co-conspirators. At the apex of that human pyramid there are three men to whom I owe this and a great deal more: Tony Kushner, our beloved skipper Steven Spielberg and the mysteriously beautiful mind, body and spirit of Abraham Lincoln. For my mother, thank you so much.”
Snippets of the best of his backstage interview:
Is there anyone he’d like to portray in the future?
“I can’t think of anyone right now because I need to have to lie down for a couple of years. No, I can’t think of any. I really can’t, no. It’s really hard to imagine doing anything after this.”
Is he out of character now?
“I’m definitely out of character at this moment. If I slip back into it by mistake, you can do an intervention of some kind, Heimlich maneuver or whatever, if I get stuck in character. No, I’m definitely out of character now.”
Does anyone help him with his acceptance speeches?
“I wish, I wish. No, no, they haven’t. They haven’t. But if you can’t find your own words to say in situations like this, I think that would be a little sad, wouldn’t it? Personally, I have to say that is so sweet of you to say that, but I kind of love it when people are completely inarticulate with their speeches, and it says the same thing in a different way.”
If he got any “grief” for, as a non-American, playing an American president?
“Well, I got plenty of grief from myself starting imagining doing it. I mean, it certainly had a paralyzing quality if we got it wrong, which was perfectly possible, quite likely even, that I might not be able to show my face in this country again. So, yeah. But grief from the outside, not yet, no.”