HAMPTON — Robert Shepherd of Hampton has a speaking part in
"He just came in, laid down and never said a word," Shepherd recalls.
Day-Lewis wasn't being aloof. He was just staying in character. Shepherd, 68, plays the role of Joseph Barnes, the attending physician at Lincoln's deathbed.
Shepherd is in one scene, at the very end of the film. He has four lines of dialogue, all of which made the final cut. He says Spielberg shot the scene about 25 times to get the right takes with different camera angles and lenses.
"Mister Spielberg couldn't have been a kinder man," Shepherd says. "Before we shot my scene, he had me read my lines for him, and then he said, 'Can you give me a little bit less?' He told me which words to hit a little bit harder. And every take we did, I tried to do it exactly how he wanted.
"You never know, with someone so big and so important, if he's going to come in with a big ego. I can't say that I truly know him, but I can say that he couldn't be more pleasant to work with."
A Missouri native and an Army veteran, Shepherd came to the Peninsula in 1990 when he was transferred to
Shepherd happily says that his Army pension allows him to pursue "the life of a freelance actor with all of its ups and downs."
He has worked steadily in local and regional productions, with the occasional high-profile job mixed in. He played a congressman in the 2007 comedy "Evan Almighty" because the casting staff was impressed with his startled double-takes during auditions. His character did not speak in that film but reacted with surprise as a menagerie of animals scrambled toward Steve Carrell's character.
He auditioned for
Lincoln's deathbed was the final scenes that Spielberg shot in Virginia, so Shepherd had to wait six months before he got his moment on set last December.
When he watched the Virginia premiere of the film last week in
In the end, he found that he had one more long wait to endure.