By Tom Potter
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
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.