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Liam Neeson and not Daniel Day-Lewis was the first choice to play Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln - Here's what went wrong

Lincoln is indeed one of the most well-made biopic across the world and this trivia will leave you imagining what if….

Liam Neeson and not Daniel Day-Lewis was the first choice to play Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln - Here's what went wrong
Lincoln Was First Offered To Liam Neeson

Last Updated: 07.06 PM, Jun 05, 2024


The casting stories behind the most iconic films are always fascinating. The idea of another seasoned actor playing a role that has become iconic is intriguing. We often hear stories of last-minute replacements, tragedies, and more. But did you know that Daniel Day-Lewis's role in Lincoln was not originally his? He was not the first choice for the part. Curious to know who was? It was an actor who prepared for the role for four long years only to decline it because the final script didn't resonate with him as expected. That actor was none other than the veteran Liam Neeson. Yes, you read that right. Read on to learn everything about this interesting update.

Liam Neeson In Lincoln?

Lincoln, for the uninitiated, is an Oscar-winning movie directed by the maverick filmmaker Steven Spielberg. The movie, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, is based on the final four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life. Critics appreciated this focus because most filmmakers chose a longer period in biopics to make the job easier. But Spielberg is not like most. He chose a specific time frame and explored the 16th President of the United States with precision. However, this was exactly what put Liam Neeson off and made him quit the project.


According to GQ, Liam Neeson himself revealed that he spent four years researching the part, as the story was based on Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Lincoln had been in the making since 1990, passing through the hands of many writers until Tony Kushner was hired. Before Kushner’s version—which focused on the last four months—was approved, the idea was to explore a longer period, which was what Liam Neeson was interested in. The shift to focusing on just the last four months did not lure him enough.

When Liam Neeson Broke His Silence

There were multiple reasons for Neeson to leave the project, including the new script and the personal loss of his wife, actress Natasha Richardson, who died during this period. Talking about it years later, he said, “It had no connection with me whatsoever. It was a very strange feeling, and it was partly grief. I read very, very poorly by any standards, but then some people come up afterward and say, ‘Oh, you’re made to play Lincoln.’ I just was cringing with embarrassment. Afterward, Steven came over, and I said, ‘Steven, you have to recast this now.’”

According to Screen Rant, Neeson even spoke about Daniel Day-Lewis leading Lincoln and replacing him. “I was thrilled that Daniel played him,” he said, before adding, “As much as I admired the film [...] I think I’d still like to do an old-fashioned biography of Lincoln.” This indicates that Neeson is still not impressed with the four-month focus, as visible in his comments. Meanwhile, Daniel Day-Lewis won an Oscar for his performance as Abraham Lincoln, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Lincoln is streaming on SonyLIV, and you can watch the film with your OTTplay Premium subscription. Stay tuned to OTTplay for more information on this and everything else from the world of streaming and films.

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