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Steven Spielberg shares Daniel Day-Lewis' Lincoln rejection letter

01.08.2013by:

It took a few tries before Steven Spielberg got Daniel Day-Lewis for LINCOLN.

The first time he was asked-- he passed. The second time they wrote an entirely new script, which was sent to the actor-- he passed. The third time, Spielberg asks his MUNICH collaborator Tony Kushner to write yet another script, but then had to get down to the fine details of the 16th president in 500 pages. Finding all those details paid off because Lewis finally agreed to the project. Well, who do you go to when he backs out for good? Ralph Fiennes? Liam Neeson? Anyone?

Before handing Day-Lewis the award for best actor at the New York Film Critics Circle award, Spielberg took it upon himself to read the first rejection letter that the actor had sent him:

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 Iíve 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 canít 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. Thatís how I feel now in spite of myself, and though I canít be sure that this wonít change, I couldnít dream of encouraging you to keep it open on a mere possibility. I do hope this makes sense Steven, Iím glad youíre 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.

This is the classiest way to reject a part ever.

Source: THR

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9:45PM on 01/08/2013
I totally read that in his Lincoln voice
I totally read that in his Lincoln voice
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11:52AM on 01/09/2013
Hahahah, YES!!
Hahahah, YES!!
6:20PM on 01/09/2013
I actually read that in his Bill "The Butcher" voice.
I actually read that in his Bill "The Butcher" voice.
10:10PM on 01/08/2013
Is Daniel Day-Lewis going to create history as the
first actor to win Best Actor Oscar three times?
Is Daniel Day-Lewis going to create history as the
first actor to win Best Actor Oscar three times?
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+21
11:01PM on 01/08/2013

Both Spielberg and Lewis are honorable men

This is precisely why both Lewis and Spielberg are the men they are in Hollywood. I wish a lot of people would learn all there is from these men to succeed as a human being.
This is precisely why both Lewis and Spielberg are the men they are in Hollywood. I wish a lot of people would learn all there is from these men to succeed as a human being.
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+13
10:33PM on 01/08/2013
That was absolutely the most classy move I ever seen.
That was absolutely the most classy move I ever seen.
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11:16AM on 01/09/2013
I have so much respect for both of these men. That's a hell of a way to say "no." Thank god he changed his mind.
I have so much respect for both of these men. That's a hell of a way to say "no." Thank god he changed his mind.
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9:47AM on 01/09/2013

Classy

Today's generation of actor's should take tips from guys like this because most of them are not greatful for what they have. They'll just take a role because it's a paycheck, actor's like Lewis will wait and take a role because it will help him evolve and challenge him as an actor. Hence why Lewis is the most Selective Actor in Hollywood. Brilliant Actor.
Today's generation of actor's should take tips from guys like this because most of them are not greatful for what they have. They'll just take a role because it's a paycheck, actor's like Lewis will wait and take a role because it will help him evolve and challenge him as an actor. Hence why Lewis is the most Selective Actor in Hollywood. Brilliant Actor.
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11:52AM on 01/09/2013

God, I love him.

DDL is just such a gentleman and a damn gracious guy. I am VERY glad he changed his mind. I can't say Lincoln was the most thrilling movie in the world, but it's finely crafted and DDL's performance is unbelievable. I look forward to the man giving his THIRD gracious, humble, excellent speech for the Oscar. Congrats to them both on such excellence!
DDL is just such a gentleman and a damn gracious guy. I am VERY glad he changed his mind. I can't say Lincoln was the most thrilling movie in the world, but it's finely crafted and DDL's performance is unbelievable. I look forward to the man giving his THIRD gracious, humble, excellent speech for the Oscar. Congrats to them both on such excellence!
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7:36PM on 01/09/2013
That letter could have passed as one from Lincoln himself. Actors: take notes from this guy, EVERYBODY will want to work with you. But this letter also tells me that Spielberg did a damn good job of making him see he needed to be the participant rather than just the spectator. Two very skilled men.
That letter could have passed as one from Lincoln himself. Actors: take notes from this guy, EVERYBODY will want to work with you. But this letter also tells me that Spielberg did a damn good job of making him see he needed to be the participant rather than just the spectator. Two very skilled men.
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11:51AM on 01/09/2013
Double post, sorry.
Double post, sorry.
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