Steven Spielberg spent many years trying to get “Lincoln” made. The actor he wanted, Daniel Day-Lewis, kept turning down the offer to play the 16th president of the United States. After several rewrites, Day-Lewis finally accepted Spielberg’s offer.
According to a Jan. 8 report from The Hollywood Reporter, Spielberg presented Day-Lewis with the award for Best Actor at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. However, the Oscar-winning director also read Day-Lewis’ original rejection letter in front of the audience. The letter is found below.
It was a real pleasure just to 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 describes 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.
It’s a good thing Spielberg kept on going after Day-Lewis for the role. If he hadn't, his name wouldn’t be amongst those nominated for Best Actor at the 2013 Oscars.
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