Persons of the Week: Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis

Famed director and actor bring the 16th president to life in new film, 'Lincoln.'
3:00 | 11/09/12

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Transcript for Persons of the Week: Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis
And finally tonight, our "persons of the week." The movie "lincoln" opens nationally next week, and it's a portrait of 42 days in the life of a man bearing the weight of a crushing responsibility. A man determined to pass an amend pt, ending slavery and hold the nation together. The director, steven spielberg says he's been drawn to lincoln as a timeless, moral compass, from the day he first saw the lincoln memorial, almost 60 years ago. I have this recollection from my childhood, when my uncle took me to the lincoln memorial. You are lead into this dark, kind of rotunda, and there is a giant sitting in a chair. What did you see in his face? Do you remember? I felt he was looking directly at me. And that was it. A boy who grew up to be a director, carrying a dream and knowing there was only one actor for this role, but for nearly eight years, daniel day lewis, who grew up in england and ireland, said no. It would be impossible to embody america's most dearly loved president. It seemed like just an important thing. Last thing I wanted to do was to desecrate the memory of the most dearly loved president of th country. It took some time. It took a lot of time and a lot of shyness around. At a meeting last year, spielberg kept seeing lincoln in his face and, so, sneaked out his camera. You snapped a photo of -- yeah, I didn't tell him I did that. When did you do that? Oh, a long time ago. You don't need to know about that. And I just went with my little, like that, so, I hip shot. It was just right off the hip. I love the idea of you as paparazzi. Exactly. Exactly. And then, there it was, on the screen. Lincoln. Daunting, monumental, fully human. He was awkward to look at, his voice didn't fit his stature. And he would just disarm a room with a crazy story that had no relevance to the issue. Great thickener of things. I suppose it is. Actually, I have no idea what you mean by that. If no one latches at the stories, he'd be the first one to guffaw at the story he'd be telling. And the actor who grew up in another country found abraham lincoln's famous ready voice. One day, I got a little cassette tape in the mail from daniel and when I turned on the cassette player, I heard the president speaking to me. I like our chances now. And so they were ready to go with a brilliant screen play. You are more reptile than man, george. And the noblest goal. Inside the film, there are de from a time capsule. Kentucky historical society let them use the real sound of lincoln's real watch. That gentle ticking, that's the ticking that lincoln heard 150 years ago. A man, forced to make wrenching decisions. And a different portrait of the wife by his side. Mrs. Lincoln. Madame president, if you will. Mary lincoln, who had once been the girl who every man courted, chose this rough country lawyer because she saw something in him perhaps before he did. Sally field, in a marriage searing and loving, telling her husband that he alone must end slavery and the civil war. If you fail -- and so, one man creates one nation with a vision of what we can be at our best. Shall we stop this bleeding? As inaccessible as he seems initially, because one stands at a 5-year-old in front of a monument, you discover so quickly you just don't ever want to let him go. And so we choose daniel day lewis and steven spielberg for bringing us "lincoln," the movie, which is distributed by our parent company, disney, opening next friday. And lincoln, the president, who always believed we will rise toward the better angels of our nature.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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