Tommy Lee Jones will portray Thaddeus Stevens in
the movie, Lincoln, to be released at the end of 2012
Tommy Lee Jones To Portray Thaddeus Stevens
In Steven Spielberg's Lincoln
Maybe the third time will be the charm for Thaddeus Stevens and the movies.
In May, Steven Spielberg announced that Tommy Lee Jones will be playing
Thaddeus Stevens in his movie, Lincoln, which is being filmed in Richmond this fall
and is scheduled to be released at the end of 2012.
This will be the third time that Stevens will be in the flicks. The first two times
he didn’t do too well. The first was in the great epic -- yet incredibly racist -- film,
Birth of a Nation. Under the pseudonym Austin Stoneman, Stevens was the villain
and the heroes were the Ku Klux Klan.
His second time out was in 1942 in the movie Tennessee Johnson, which
lionized Andrew Johnson, one of the country’s worst presidents. While Stevens
came out better in that movie, he was still cast as a fanatic against the supposedly
cool headed Johnson. The movie even rationalized Johnson showing up drunk for
Spielberg, who is well known for his socially progressive movies, such as
Schindler’s List and Amistad, should do better by Thad.
Interestingly, in September, Spielberg announced that Jackie Earle Haley has
been cast as Alexander Stephens. This Stephens was a pre-Civil War buddy of
Lincoln’s who went on to be the vice president of the Confederacy. He was the
polar opposite of Thad and is famous for his “Cornerstone” speech in which he said
the foundation of the Confederacy “rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not
equal to the white man; that slavery--subordination to the superior race -- is the
natural and normal condition.”
Unfortunately, Stephens has enjoyed greater fame than Thad. Of all people,
President Harry Truman -- who should have known better --once said the difference
between Stephens and Stevens was, “Alexander H. Stephens was a great American;
Thaddeus Stevens was a son-of-bitch.” Ironically, Truman helped launch the
modern civil rights era by integrating the military in 1948.
Let’s hope in this new movie, Alexander Stephens is the son-of-a-bitch.