WASHINGTON, MO. (KTVI) – As the new Steven Spielberg movie, Lincoln hits screens in the area, a pair of Lincoln County men will be watching extra closely. They have their own pieces of history appearing in the film.
Charles Staats is a Civil War buff from way back. He also is passionate about restoring old fire engines and ambulances.
Charles it the historian, his son C.J. is a stuntman who specializes in horses and has appeared in nearly every Civil War film of note for the last two decades.
So when Steven Spielberg began work on “Lincoln,” the Staats’ family reputation was known to the producers, who needed a “period perfect” ambulance.
“He said I know C.J. has one, he and his father have it. So C.J. called me up and said, “We’ve gotta get it ready, Dad, Stephen Spielberg wants it,” Charles said.
Staats went to work on restoring an old buggy he’d found up the road in Washington, MO.
“The wagon itself is known as a spring board chasse wagon. It is the exact same thing that was used in the civil war as a spring board,” he said.
Soon C.J. was on the road to Richmond, Virginia with the ambulance and a couple of other military wagons from the period. He had two jobs on the set: overseeing the family’s equipment, and handling horses.
He appeared in one scene, and also spent quite a bit of time working with the film’s star, Daniel Day Lewis, on his horsemanship.
“Daniel Day Lewis really got into character,” C.J. said of the Oscar winning actor. “ We had to refer to him as Mr. President or Mr. Lincoln. He really got into character every day.”
When the movie trailer was released, they saw the ambulance in one of the clips. The appearance is brief, just over a second, but it’s enough to have Charles chomping at the bit to see the movie on opening day.
“If the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be there,” he said with a chuckle.