At the press junket for Men in Black 3, Tommy Lee Jones was asked about Lincoln, and asked if Daniel Day-Lewis truly loses himself in the performance. Jones plays Thaddeus Stevens
I don’t think Daniel ever loses himself but I don’t think President Lincoln has ever been portrayed as well. He’s read his history, he’s read his books – Daniel has – and his Lincoln is a country boy who also happens to be a brilliant lawyer and a poet. This is not a Lincoln that’s just stepped off the dollar bill or just arisen from the Lincoln Monument. This is not the icon or the hero and he’s not the joke of the old ‘Honest Abe’ nonesense. This is a real man and I don’t think Lincoln has ever been done as well.
He also commented about his character, which is a relatively small part and only took three weeks of filming:
The character I play is Thaddeus Stevens. He was the head of the Ways and Means Committee in the ’50s. He was a Republican, which was the left side of the political spectrum in those days. He was looked upon as a radical because it was his opnion, and he was vocal about it, that no human being should be the chattel of another and that was looked upon as crazy. I loved playing Thaddeus Stevens for that reason. But also because he had a club food and alopecia. Those are exciting things for an actor who likes manners.