Though Daniel Day-Lewis is up for all kinds of awards (and likely an Oscar) for his meticulous portrayal of America's 16th president, Stephen Spielberg spent a decade getting the method actor to accept the role. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Spielberg scrapped two versions of the script rejected by Day-Lewis, who finally settled on screenwriter Tony Kushner's version.
Both Day-Lewis and Spielberg attended Monday night's New York Film Critics Circle Awards dinner, where the famed director read the 55-year-old actor's thoughtful rejection letter to an earlier "Lincoln" draft:
It was a real pleasure just so sit and talk with you. I listened very carefully to what you had to say about this compelling history, and I’ve since read the script and found it in all the detail in which it describe these monumental events and in the compassionate portraits of all the principal characters, both powerful and moving.
I can’t account for how at any given moment I feel the need to explore life as opposed to another, but I do know that I can only do this work if I feel almost as if there is no choice; that a subject coincides inexplicably with a very personal need and a very specific moment in time.
In this case, as fascinated as I was by Abe, it was the fascination of a grateful spectator who longed to see a story told, rather than that of a participant. That’s how I feel now in spite of myself, and though I can’t be sure that this won’t change, I couldn’t dream of encouraging you to keep it open on a mere possibility.
I do hope this makes sense Steven, I’m glad you’re making the film, I wish you the strength for it, and I send both my very best wishes and my sincere gratitude to you for having considered me.