Washington Secrets

South rises again: Richmond replaces D.C. in Spielberg's 'Lincoln'

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Much of the background for the upcoming blockbuster movie "Lincoln" was shot in Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia, but it wasn't until Sunday, when director Steven Spielberg let "60 Minutes" air two clips, that the irony became clear that the capital of the Confederacy had supplanted Washington for Honest Abe's home.

"Virginia capital playing the nation's capital, I think with the Jeffersonian architecture, it seems very appropriate," said Rita McClenny, the director of the Virginia Film Office and the interim president of the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Asked if the filming meant that the South in some way didn't lose the Civil War after all, McClenny joked, "no not really, it's all just an illusion."

One of the scenes shared by Spielberg on "60 Minutes" showed Lincoln addressing Congress in the U.S. Capitol. But in the movie, the Virginia House of Delegates chamber was used.

"Virginia's capital plays the U.S. Capitol in the story, so our House of Delegates is playing Congress," said McClenny.

What's more, film officials conferred with officials at the White House of the Confederacy for tips in recreating the movie White House. And Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays Lincoln in the movie version of Doris Kearns Goodwin's 2005 book "Team of Rivals," visited that Civil War era home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Over the past year, Richmond has become the headquarters of Lincoln movie filmings, the latest being "Killing Lincoln," the movie version of Fox's Bill O'Reilly's book. Ridley Scott, the maker of "Alien" and "Top Gun," is filming that movie.

"It seems like once someone like Steven Spielberg takes on a topic the rest of the world follows," said McClenny.

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