The Toughest Scene I Wrote: Tony Kushner on Lincoln

Tony Kushner details the deceptively simple scene in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln that he revised the most, reports Vulture’s Jennifer Vineyard.

Over the last few weeks, Vulture has spoken to the screenwriters of 2012′s most notable movies about the scenes they found most difficult to crack. What pivotal sequences underwent the biggest transformations on their way from script to screen? Today, Tony Kushner details the deceptively simple scene in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln that he revised the most. He told his story to Jennifer Vineyard:

I think the hardest scene to write, for some reason, was the buggy ride between Mary (Sally Field) and Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) near the end of the movie. You don’t know a lot about what they said on the actual buggy ride, and there were so many things they could have talked about — it was actually a very long ride! I’m sure I’ll always think, Maybe I should have had them say this; maybe I should have had them say that.

It became a question of what sort of flavor we wanted at the very end, and this is the one we decided on. It was important that it not sound like they knew the movie was ending or that Lincoln was going to be assassinated, because for them it was a new beginning. It was the end of the war and the beginning of a life after the war, and the one thing she always insisted that he said to her then was, “We’ve both been very miserable for so long. Let’s try to be happier.” It’s just so impossible to hear that now without your heart breaking, because you know they only had a few hours left together!

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