Ever since Dan Storck was a boy he has idolized President Abraham Lincoln.
Now as a politician himself, Storck says he aims to bring the 16th president’s best qualities as a statesman to his role as the Mt. Vernon district representative on the Fairfax County school board.
And standing about 6 foot 3, with wispy black hair and a chinstrap beard, his close resemblance to Lincoln earned Storck a second career as an actor portraying the Great Emancipator.
Beginning in the mid 1990s, Storck has been visiting Fairfax schools and local events dressed as Lincoln, stovepipe hat and all.
So who better to ask for his take on Steven Spielberg’s new epic film, “Lincoln,” than Storck?
I called Storck the other day to talk with him about the movie, which he described as “what you’d expect from Spielberg of course, the detail, mood, setting and the artistry...that was all first class.”
Storck said that from the very beginning the film had a darker feel. Much of the story occurs in Washington during the fall. The characters often wear shawls to stay warm.
Lincoln, played by Daniel Day Lewis, looks older than a man in his mid 50s. His hair is graying and his pallid cheeks form craters on his face.
Storck said that Lincoln often appears “slumping down because of the weight of history on his shoulders, the momentousness of the work he was trying to accomplish.”
In the film, Lincoln is attempting to cobble together a coalition to pass legislation that would become his greatest legacy: the 13th amendment, which abolished slavery.
“The essence of a great political leader,” Storck said, “is somebody who can deal with multiple factions and find a way to bring them together for the common good.”
As a Lincoln actor, Storck said that his favorite part of the film was “the way they brought Lincoln alive.”
Storck said that one of the most puzzling aspects of being a Lincoln actor is attempting to accurately recreate his voice.
“Everything you read historically was that he was a tenor, with a higher, reedier voice that was harder to listen to,” Storck said, noting that he enjoyed Lewis’ portrayal.
“I don’t have any professional acting credentials, yet I want to be as real and honest and accurate in my portrayal of Lincoln as I can,” Storck said. “My objective is to buy the movie and watch it another 30 times to tune into some of those small details to make my character come alive.”
Storck said that Lincoln excelled at bringing parties together “under the same tent,” in order to meet on common ground. It’s that kind of astute political conciliation that Storck strives for during school board sessions.
“The bigger message is that its about listening to people, understanding what they truly want or need and helping them realize that while also realizing your own broader, longer term goals,” Storck said.