Josh Lucas, Benjamin Walker, James D’Arcy and Oliver Jackson-Cohen are also in the casting mix
When you think of actors who could play President Abraham Lincoln, one name immediately comes to mind: Liam Neeson.
For years, Neeson was lined up to play Honest Abe for director Steven Spielberg, but the filmmaker recently decided to cast Daniel Day-Lewis as the Great Emancipator. Not only does Day-Lewis have two Oscars, but he's also five years younger than Neeson.
Likewise, 20th Century Fox has a "younger Neeson" in mind for its $69 million adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's acclaimed novel "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter."
The studio is reportedly screen-testing a handful of actors for the role of young Abe Lincoln, and while he's not nearly as well-known as his competition, Benjamin Walker is on the list, according to Deadline.
Walker is best known for playing a young Alfred Kinsey in Bill Condon's biopic "Kinsey," which starred Neeson as the sex-obsessed doctor. Walker also has presidential experience, having played Andrew Jackson on stage in "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson." The studio is clearly high on Walker, who was set to play Dr. Hank McCoy, aka Beast, in Matthew Vaughn's "X-Men: First Class" before he dropped out to play Jackson on Broadway.
Others who are said to be in the mix to play Lincoln include Adrien Brody, Timothy Olyphant and Josh Lucas, as well as lesser known actors such as James D'Arcy and Oliver Jackson-Cohen.
Height is clearly a factor for Fox, as D'Arcy and Jackson-Cohen stand at 6'3", Brody at 6'1", Olyphant at 6-feet, while Lucas is just a shade under 6-feet.
Brody recently buffed up to play an unlikely action hero in the studio's "Predators," where his casting proved to be an inspired choice that paid off by surrounding the Oscar winner with a group of rough-and-tumble supporting actors.
Olyphant is also a favorite of Fox's, having starred in "Hitman" and "Live Free or Die Hard." I'm not sure he'd be right for Lincoln, but I could certainly see him as Henry Sturgess, the man who trains young Abe to hunt vampires.
Lucas has the right look to play Lincoln but his career has cooled over the past few years. Recent films such as "Tell Tale" and "Peacock" went straight-to-DVD, though Lucas does co-star in Lionsgate's aptly-named upcoming legal thriller "The Lincoln Lawyer."
D'Arcy is an intriguing choice for the coveted role and it helps that he has no trouble taking on iconic characters, having played Nicholas Nickleby and Sherlock Holmes in TV movies from 2001 and 2002, respectively. He also recently wrapped the role of King Edward VIII in Madonna's "W.E."
Jackson-Cohen is another young actor on the rise. He starred opposite Dwayne Johnson in CBS Films' "Faster" and also appeared in New Line's romantic comedy "Going the Distance" last year. He recently wrapped roles in two very different projects, the adult comedy "What's Your Number?" and the period thriller "The Raven."
Timur Bekmambetov is set to direct "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" from a script by Grahame-Smith. Bekmambetov is also producing with Tim Burton and Jim Lemley. Bekmambetov and Burton liked the book so much that they used their own money to option the property, with Fox winning a fierce bidding war for the project due to its pre-existing relationships with both filmmakers.
Eric Bana came close to being cast as Lincoln but it didn't work out for reasons that remain unclear.
Fox will release the film on June 22, 2012.
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