Lincoln focuses on the last four months of the president’s ’s life and the political strategizing he undertook at the close of the Civil War to ensure that slavery would be forever outlawed. “Our movie is really about a working leader who must make tough decisions and get things done in the face of overwhelming opposition,” Spielberg says.Also Jared Harris as Ulysses S. Grant, among other notables.
He said the film begins with “Lincoln’s realization that the Emancipation Proclamation, the thing he is most known for, was simply a war powers act that would easily be struck down by any number of lawyers after the cessation of hostilities after the Civil War,” Spielberg says. “He needed to abolish slavery by constitutional measure — and that’s where we start.”
Among the other central characters are David Strathairn, as Lincoln’s loyal Secretary of State, William Seward; Lincoln’s sons, Tad (Dark Shadows' Gulliver McGrath) and Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt); his wife Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Field); and “one of his most engaging and challenging adversaries, Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones), a radical member of Lincoln’s own party,” Spielberg says.
Related: From one of those "funniest answers ever given by students on exams" pages, a potential spoiler for the film's ending.