Sunday, September 16, 2012

Benjamin Walker stakes his claim to 'Abraham Lincoln' role - Boston Herald

Benjamin Walker leaps from Broadway and stand-up comedy into his first Hollywood lead, playing the Civil War-era president in the 3-D fantasy thriller “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.”

Sure, Walker, 29, looks nothing like Lincoln, but then “ALVH” isn’t really history.

“That’s a great thing about vampires,” said Tim Burton, the film’s producer. “You can tell vampire stories a million different ways.”

Walker did his homework to play Honest Abe. “There’s a lot you can do on Abraham Lincoln, but some of it isn’t very helpful,” he said Sunday at Manhattan’s Ritz-Carlton Central Park Hotel.

“So you have to find literature like ‘Lincoln’s Melancholia,’ which is about how he dealt with misery, death, his poetry and his childhood, and was very helpful.

“The more research you do,” he added, “the easier it is to do your job. If you don’t do that amount of research you really have no business speaking his words.”

As for the ax that Lincoln wields with brutal, homicidal efficiency, “Oh yeah, we had great people that taught me: the best stunt guys in the business.

“They kicked my (butt) and were also tough enough to stand there while I hit them in the face with a rubber ax,” Walker revealed.

“The hardest part was because of 3-D you can’t fudge the distance, you have to get as close as possible. So there were a number of accidents. I didn’t get hurt that much but a number of stunt guys really took their licks. I would ruin takes because I’d hit somebody and go, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry!’ ”

The versatile Juilliard grad now finds he has options for the stage, TV (he stars in HBO’s upcoming “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight”) and movies.

“My goals are just to work and,” he added, getting a laugh, “keep my health insurance.”

He’s been married nearly a year to Meryl Streep’s daughter Mamie Gummer (“The Good Wife”). They met in the 2008 Broadway revival of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses.”

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