Director Steven Spielberg had been trying to get Daniel Day-Lewis to play Abraham Lincoln for years before the actor finally agreed to do it. It's crazy that he kept turning Spielberg down, yet the director kept chasing him down until he said yes. I honestly don't think Spielberg would have made the movie if Day-Lewis didn't do it. Here's the first reject letter that Spielberg got from the actor...
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.
After he got the letter he had an entirely new script written that he sent to Day-Lewis, and the actor sent back a similar reply. He then scrapped that script and had another one written by Tony Kushner (Munich). That ended up being a 500 page script that got whittled down to what we ended up seeing in the movie. Lincoln focused on the 13th Amendment, which was a completely different film than what Spielberg had first proposed to Day-Lewis. It's amazing to me that Spielberg cared so much about what Day-Lewis thought of the script that he basically had it written until he said yes.
I thought Lincoln was a great film and I'll be shocked if Day-Lewis doesn't win an Oscar for Best Actor.