Daniel Day Lewis going to have to get a bigger trophy cabinet once the 2013 movie awards season is out of the way but he very nearly ruined his own chances of gaining all of the plaudits that he’s landed for his role in Lincoln, when he wrote Steven Spielberg a letter turning down the role. Spielberg read the letter out to those in attendance at the New York Film Critics Circle awards on Monday.

The note reads almost like a Dear John letter, with Lewis explaining to Spielberg that whilst he couldn’t quite put his finger on why he wouldn’t take the role on at that time, it simply didn’t feel right for him. “I can’t account for how at any given moment I feel the need to explore life as opposed to another,” he told the director “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.” The end of the note was particularly moving, as he says to Spielberg “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.”

Such was Spielberg’s determination to get Daniel Day Lewis in the lead role of Abraham Lincoln, that he tried another two re-writes of the script, before calling on Tony Kushner (Angels in America) to do the same. Finally, Daniel Day Lewis was won over. 

Watch the trailer for Lincoln