The filmmaker reveals Day-Lewis initially turned down the role as U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, but the Titanic actor stepped in and urged his former Gangs of New York co-star to take the part.
Spielberg tells USA Today, “Leo DiCaprio was at my house for dinner one night. It was just myself, my wife (Kate Capshaw) and Leo. And he says, ‘Hey, what’s going on with your Lincoln project?’ I told him the sad story. I had one shot at Daniel and he had declined. And that was that. Leo just listened.
“The next morning he called me at my office. He said, ‘Here’s Daniel’s cellphone number, he’s expecting your call.’ Leo has never told me to this day what he said to Daniel. But that began this wonderful journey.”