Actor to star in DreamWorks picture

Steven Spielberg has tapped Daniel Day-Lewis to star as Abraham Lincoln in the long-gestating “Lincoln” project for DreamWorks.

Friday’s announcement, made by Spielberg and DreamWorks co-chair/CEO Stacey Snider, came nine years after Spielberg first launched development of a Lincoln biopic and five years after he’d held talks with Liam Neeson to portray the 16th president.

Tony Kushner penned the adaptation of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s 2005 book “Team of Rivals.” Spielberg will direct and will produce with Kathleen Kennedy.

Story focuses on the political collision of Lincoln and the powerful men of his cabinet. Filming is expected to begin next fall for release in the fourth quarter of 2012 via Disney’s Touchstone distribution label.

Kushner worked with Spielberg on “Munich,” drawing an Oscar nomination in the adapted screenplay category.

DreamWorks bought rights to Kearns Goodwin’s book in 2001, way before it was completed.

“Team of Rivals” looks at Lincoln’s presidency between 1861 and 1865 with a focus on the three Cabinet members who ran against Lincoln in the 1860 election — Edward Bates (attorney general), Salmon Chase (secretary of the treasury) and William H. Seward (secretary of state) — and Lincoln’s ability to deal effectively with the profound political and personal conflicts during the Civil War.

Spielberg announced last month that he’d direct futuristic drama “Robopocalypse” for DreamWorks with principal photography starting in January 2012 for a release in via Disney in 2013. “Lincoln” move won’t change the start of “Robopocalypse,” which explores the fate of the human race following a robot uprising.

Spielberg has been in London shooting the bigscreen adaptation of WWI story “War Horse.” Disney and DreamWorks will release the film Dec. 28, 2011, one week after Universal and Sony release another Spielberg-directed project, “The Adventures of Tintin: Secrets of the Unicorn.”

Neeson said this summer that he was no longer interested in the role.

As for Day-Lewis, “Lincoln” will be the first film he’s done since last year’s “Nine.” He’s been in only three other pics — “There Will Be Blood,” “The Ballad of Jack and Rose” and “Gangs of New York” — in the past decade.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more