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Gallery: Suffolk’s own Lincoln-like

22:25 30 January 2013

Edmond Wells, from Beccles, has ben in high demand since the release of Steven Spielberg's new film

Edmond Wells, from Beccles, has ben in high demand since the release of Steven Spielberg's new film

CRITICS may be in awe of Hollywood’s portrayal of Lincoln - but it turns out Suffolk has its very own “Honest Abe”.

In unmistakable top hat, bow tie and beard, professional look-alike Edmond Wells is a dead ringer for the 16th President of the United States.

The 58-year-old, from Beccles, who also doubles as Basil Fawlty, Bond villain Jaws and half-giant Hagrid from Harry Potter, landed a premier new role in time for the release of Steven Spielberg’s new epic.

But, unlike leading man Daniel Day-Lewis, Mr Wells had little time to get into character before whizzing down to London for a photo shoot promoting tourism in Lincoln’s home state of Illinois.

Onlookers rushed to pose for a photo with him as he caught the tube, rode a “Boris Bike” and stood outside Westminster.

Mr Wells, who has three inches on the 6ft 4ins former president, said: “I had an email from an entertainment agent asking if I’d be able to do it. I was at a standing start and had to be Abe within four days.

“I knew I wouldn’t have to do the Gettysburg Address but I wanted to do it properly.”

To achieve the look, Mr Wells scoured all the costumiers and theatres he knew of, and managed to find everything but one vital component - the famous chin curtain beard.

But a last minute dash to London and a few do-it-yourself adjustments with some black mascara and curling tongs meant Mr Wells was good to go.

His unusual profession began as a joke between colleagues and has led to numerous globe-trotting engagements. He said: “When I was a project manager on interior design builds I used to get my leg pulled and was nicknamed Basil Fawlty.

“One night I had a bout of indigestion and couldn’t sleep, so I turned on the television and saw a guy from a look-alike agency asking people to give him a call. I thought it sounded a hoot.”

Mr Wells soon landed a job as the famous John Cleese character and spent four years as a part-time look-alike before turning professional.

He admits to having been “very impressed” by Daniel Day-Lewis in the role of Lincoln - regardless of the Oscar contender having a lot more time to prepare.

Mr Wells was in London to help promote tourism in Illinois. Jen Hoelzle, of the Illinois Office of Tourism, said: “The Lincoln movie is sparking new curiosity in the Land of Lincoln - the place he called home. “We expect to see a renewed interest from travellers in exploring the State Capital of Springfield and Lincoln sites throughout Illinois.”

To discover more about where President Lincoln lived, visit DiscoverIllinois.org.

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