It's hard to imagine Steven Spielberg's Lincoln without Daniel Day-Lewis' Oscar-winning central performance — but Day-Lewis wouldn't have been there if Liam Neeson hadn't voluntarily dropped out of the project. Why would any actor voluntarily vacate such a slam-dunk role? In a new cover story at GQ, Liam Neeson describes the moment he realized he was the wrong actor to play Abraham Lincoln.
According to Neeson, Steven Spielberg first approached him to star in an early version of Lincoln 10 years ago. He spent four years researching to play Lincoln in what he describes as "a wonderful kind of old-fashioned biography of Lincoln," which began with his inauguration and ended with his death. But Tony Kushner's script rewrite narrowed Lincoln's focus to the final four months of the president's life, as he worked to push the 13th amendment through the House of Representatives.
The trouble began when Neeson sat down with Lincoln's cast and creative team for a table read. "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," says Neeson.
"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.' And he said, 'What are you talking about?' And I said, 'I'm serious. You have to recast it.' So I went back home, and that night I called [Doris Kearns Goodwin], and I had a wee chat with her. And then I called Steven, and I said, 'Steven, this is not for me. I can't explain it. It's gone. It's not...' And he got it. He said, 'Okay.' And that was it."
Still dreaming of an Abraham Lincoln biopic starring Liam Neeson? You may get your wish someday. "I'd still like to do Lincoln's story," Neeson conceded. "I think [Lincoln] shows him, yes, but I think I'd still like to do an old-fashioned biography of Lincoln." Scott Meslow
With 7 in 10 Americans reporting they are "frustrated" with the 2016 presidential election, this year could be the Libertarian Party's big chance — and America's largest third party is holding its national convention in Orlando, Florida, this weekend.
On the agenda: picking a presidential nominee from among three contenders. Though the contest is considered close, greatest name recognition belongs to former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who was the Libertarian nominee in 2012, when he picked up more than 1 million votes. Johnson recently polled at 10 percent nationally against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and he would need 15 percent support to make it into the general election debates.
Martin Short and Maya Rudolph stopped by The Tonight Show on Friday, so naturally host Jimmy Fallon had to find something totally outlandish for them to do together. The gang spoofed '80s cop shows with The Windy City Blue, a gag that gets progressively sillier — and windier — with each new bit. Hold onto your hat and watch below. Julie Kliegman
The World Health Organization dismissed a call Saturday to move or cancel the Rio Summer Olympics due to the spread of the Zika virus. The U.N. agency was responding to a Friday open letter from 150 health experts urging them to delay or relocate the event "in the name of public health," citing the mosquito-borne virus' link to birth defects.
"Based on the current assessment of the Zika virus circulating in almost 60 countries globally and 39 in the Americas, there is no public health justification for postponing or cancelling the games," the group's statement read.
The Zika virus is thought to have originated in Brazil. Julie Kliegman
Yellen noted that "growth looks to be picking up from the various data that we monitor," referencing rising oil prices and a weaker, stabilizing dollar as the rationale for her decision, which corresponds with recent remarks from other Fed policymakers.
She argued that a gradual increase from the near-zero rate the central bank has maintained since the 2008 financial crisis "would be appropriate" to push inflation toward the Fed's 2 percent goal. Bonnie Kristian
Things are looking good for Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, and not only because he's expected to star in the long-awaited Space Jam sequel.
James scored 33 points Friday in the Cavs' 113-87 rout of the Toronto Raptors. With the win, his team earned a spot in the NBA Finals against either the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Golden State Warriors, which would be a rematch of last year's contest.
This means, as The New York Times reports, that James is set to appear in his sixth-straight NBA Finals, and seventh overall. He's a two-time champ, both from when he took his talents to the Miami Heat. Julie Kliegman
Police arrested at least 35 people Friday at a San Diego rally for Donald Trump. About 1,000 people turned out to protest the hard-line immigration policies of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Reuters reports.
Clashes between protesters and supporters were largely non-violent, but police in riot gear began pushing and pepper spraying protesters.
.@SanDiegoPD- Fantastic job on handling the thugs who tried to disrupt our very peaceful and well attended rally. Greatly appreciated!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2016
Trump's campaign has come under fire for its history of conflict at rallies and its subsequent handling of both protesters and reporters. On Wednesday, police arrested protesters at Trump's Anaheim rally after they reportedly pelted officers with objects. Julie Kliegman
A Home Depot employee in Staten Island, New York, sparked death threats by wearing an "America Was Never Great" hat to work, The New York Times reports. Krystal Lake, 22, says she wore the hat after several co-workers wore pro–Donald Trump pins. "The point of the hat was to say that America needs change and improvement," Lake said. A company spokesman said Lake has been told never to wear the hat again.