With his shock of silver hair and tall, thin frame, there is something Lincoln-esque about the one of the greatest actors of his generation.
In person, Daniel Day-Lewis is a casual type of guy in jeans and a blue jeans shirt on a cool fall day at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.
The unassuming Brit can also be found on his bike racing around Ireland where he lives with his wife, Rebecca Miller and two sons.
Day-Lewis has a lanky frame, which surprisingly fills up the space. His searing-blue green eyes have earned him a sex symbol status.
His talent has earned him one of the most coveted roles of the year.
Day-Lewis plays Abraham Lincoln in the Steven Spielberg epic, which expands wider this weekend.
At age 55, playing Lincoln was somewhat of a style issue for Day-Lewis.
"Luckily, I came with a nose," he says with a laugh. "They didn't have to waste any time giving me one."
"I also had the hair for the role," he adds with a chuckle.
"The only trouble was I looked a little bit too youthful for it, so the makeup department gave me a little bit of assistance. They gave me less and less help as the schedule wore on."
PLAYING ABRAHAM LINCOLN
"My greatest fear is that I felt very shy around Abraham Lincoln," says Day-Lewis.
"Lincoln has been emblazoned in our minds," he says. "He has been recreated in ways that have made him de-humanized."
"Lincoln is on money, on Mount Rushmore, on statuary," Day-Lewis lists. "There are cartoons about him. Jokes about him. Parodies of him.
"It occurred to me that I felt this shyness around Lincoln," he says.
He says taking on a role like this is daunting.
"It's as if you have to walk straight up to a stranger and say, 'Do you want to spend some time with me? Do you want to hang out with me …for a couple of years?" Day-Lewis says.
There was the rub: "I was asking one of the great historical figures of all time to hang out with me," says the actor who has won Oscars for 1989's "My Left Foot" and 2007's "There Will Be Blood."
Day-Lewis turned down the role – again and again.
"It was more like five years of avoidance when it came to me playing Lincoln," he admits. "I had too much respect for Steven Spielberg at first to even try to do it."
AGING ON THE BIG SCREEN
"I grew older, which helped," Day-Lewis says. "I also felt very differently with age in terms of taking Lincoln on. It was a different time in my life when I said yes, and timing has always been vital to me.
"For me to feel compelled to take on a role requires me to discover it in a very particular moment," Day-Lewis says. "That's why when Steven came back, I was able to be receptive in a way I hadn't been able to be before."
Day-Lewis wanted to find Lincoln's sense of humor.
"One line I particularly loved in the letters was when Lincoln wrote, 'If General McClellan isn't going to use the army at the Potomac then does he mind if I borrow them?'" he says.
"Lincoln's sense of humor was everywhere," he marvels.
So is Day-Lewis' sense of humor when you ask him about an Oscar nomination. He just smiles and shakes his head.
In other words, it's not for him to say.
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS: A PRIVATE MAN
Born in Ireland, Day-Lewis lives in a quiet town now with his wife, writer-director Rebecca Miller (daughter of writer Arthur Miller) and their two sons, Ronan, 14, and Cashel. He also has a 17-year-old son named Gabriel with actress Isabella Adjani.
He says filming away from his family is tough.
"I can't take the boys out of school now," Day-Lewis says. "They have lives now. We were in Richmond, but they were home.
Just for very selfish reasons, I don't like being away from my family. I think I can be of some use to them when I'm around.
"I'm really lonely without them," he laments. "It's a lonesome thing working away from one's family and coming home to no one.
In this case, it actually worked for me to feel that isolated," he says. "I can't pretend that I didn't make use of that to play Lincoln who was very alone at times."
He does love his work.
"All I can say is when I am working, I'm so grateful for the privilege that after all these years I'm still allowed to work.
"I love the work," he says. "I do feel that the time I spend away from the work is what allows me to do the work.