Why Liam Neeson Dropped Out of 'Lincoln'

Rebecca Zamer
Yahoo CelebrityMarch 27, 2014

Daniel Day-Lewis's portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in the 2013 film "Lincoln" brought him numerous accolades, including the Academy Award for best actor. But you might be surprised to know that Steven Spielberg actually cast Liam Neeson first. The actor opened up in the April issue of GQ Magazine on why he gave up his role in "Lincoln."

"Natasha [Richardson, his wife] died in March, and then… I want to think it was toward the end of April, Steven got together a reading, and we all sat: Sally Field, John Lithgow, the actor said. "We started reading this, and there was an intro, and then I see "Lincoln": where I have to start speaking, and I just… a thunderbolt moment. I thought, "I'm not supposed to be here. This is gone. I've passed my sell-by date. I don't want to play this Lincoln. I can't be him."

[Related: Liam Neeson: How '60 Minutes' Didn't Get the Whole Story on Late Wife]

The 61-year-old ended up feeling overjoyed that the role went to his friend Daniel instead. He told the mag, "I was thrilled that Daniel played him, and when I saw the film, I was like, 'He's f****** Abraham Lincoln.' This is perfect."

And Daniel didn't forget one of the reasons that he was able to play Lincoln. The actor thanked Liam during his acceptance speech when he won the SAG Award for best actor in 2013. Check out this video to see the actor on the cover of GQ and tune in to "The Insider With Yahoo" for the latest in entertainment news.