Daniel Day-Lewis Is Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’

Long delayed project was originally supposed to star Liam Neeson, filming begins in 2011

At long last "Lincoln"!

After several false starts, many had given up hope that Steven Spielberg's biopic of the Great Emancipator would ever get made.

Friday's announcement that Daniel Day-Lewis will star as the 16th President of the United States made it seem as though all systems are finally go.

Spielberg will direct the DreamWorks Studios film from a script by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner.

The two-time Oscar winner is stepping into a role that was long reserved for Liam Neeson. Neeson, however, has been saying recently that he was too old to play the part.

Enter Day-Lewis.

Neeson is 58,  but at 53, Day-Lewis is closer in age to the president. Lincoln was assassinated when he was 56.

“Daniel Day-Lewis would have always been counted as one of the greatest of actors, were he from the silent era, the golden age of film or even some time in cinema's distant future. I am grateful and inspired that our paths will finally cross with Lincoln,” Spielberg said in a statement.

Snagging Day-Lewis was no small feat. Though he has etched memorable performances in films such as "Gangs of New York" and "There Will Be Blood," the famously reclusive actor is famous for saying no to projects. His last screen role was last year's musical flop "Nine."

Filming is expected to begin in the fall of 2011 for release in the fourth quarter of 2012 through Disney’s Touchstone distribution label.

That means that Spielberg may make the presidential biopic his next project after World War I drama "War Horse."

Spielberg was slated to begin principal photography on "Robopocalypse," in January 2012, following the December 2011 releases of "War Horse" and "The Adventure of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn."

Beyond Day-Lewis, the film carries impressive pedigree. Kushner and Spielberg have partnered memorably in the past. The "Angels in America" writer previously worked with Spielberg on "Munich" for which he was nominated for an Oscar in the Adapted Screenplay category.

The film is based on the best-selling book, Team of Rivals, by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. It will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Spielberg.

That's good news, because it means that "Lincoln" will likely avoid the birth-to-death missteps that have made so many movies about famous men and women such snooze fests. Instead, DreamWorks said that  the film will focus on the political collision of Lincoln and his cabinet on the road to abolition and the end of the Civil War.