Day-Lewis Lincoln Rejection Published

Steven Spielberg spills the beans

While we're not sure you'd call this a leak per se or just a nice titbit to coincide with Lincoln's grand haul of BAFTA nominations, but Steven Spielberg has let the world into a lovely piece of a movie story that seems to be swelling by the day.

On Monday he disclosed the contents of the letter penned by his star, Daniel Day-Lewis, when he first approached him to play the role. Here is is in full, a lyric piece of writing that gives another reminder of just how seriously the actor takes his craft.

Dear Steven,

  • 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.*

Spielberg's biopic has been a decade in the making and this letter relates to an early draft of the script which played more heavily on Lincoln's Civil War leadership. The story has been through numerous iterations since then - Day-Lewis turned it down again subsequently - before Munich writer Tony Kushner finally delivered a version that focused on the passing of the 13th Amendment.

That one met with the approval of all concerned, including the actor, and looks set to carry them all to the Oscars. See it for yourself when Lincoln arrives in the UK on January 25.