Day Lewis turned down Lincoln role twice

Updated: 23 January 2013 15:01

Daniel Day Lewis sent Steven Spielberg two rejection letters after turning down the lead role in Lincoln twice, according to the director

Daniel Day Lewis sent Steven Spielberg two rejection letters after turning down the lead role in Lincoln twice, according to the director.

It took a major script rethink before Spielberg could convince Day Lewis to accept the part.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, the director says that Day Lewis read the original script and turned it down twice. Spielberg added that he took pleasure in reading out the Wicklow-based actor's rejection letter at the recent New York Film Critics Circle Awards ceremony.

The letter read: "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."

Undaunted, Spielberg had the script, written by award-winning playwright Tony Kushner and based on historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's book Team of Rivals, completely rewritten.

However, Day Lewis still said no and sent Spielberg a shorter rejection letter which said, "If you're in town and feel like anything from a coffee to dry martinis, give me a call."

It was only when Kushner's original 500-page script for the two-and-a-half hour epic was narrowed down to its final form that Day Lewis agreed to take on the part of the American Civil War President.

Watch RTÉ Ten's red-carpet interviews with Day Lewis, Sally Field and Steven Spielberg at Lincoln's world premiere in Dublin here.