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Daniel Day-Lewis - The Legendary Madness Of Method Acting


Among the most successful performing artists of all time, Daniel Day-Lewis is largely regarded as one of the most accomplished actors of his generation. He is the only actor in history to have won three Academy Awards for Best Actor, and he has received several other honors, including four BAFTAs and two Golden Globes, among others. Over the course of his illustrious career, Day-Lewis established himself as an incredibly accomplished method actor who was capable of performing in any situation.

Daniel Day-Lewis, one of the most accomplished actors of his time, announced his retirement in 2017 after playing a challenging 1940s fashion designer named Reynolds Woodcock in the film "Phantom Thread" (via Variety). The part was a suitable conclusion to a film and stage career that had previously been selected and well handled. After 1998, Day-Lewis only featured in five films, but each of his performances, whether it was as Bill the Butcher in "Gangs of New York" or as doomed oilman Daniel Plainview in "There Will Be Blood," garnered him widespread critical praise, awards, and nominations.

Daniel Day-Lewis Retired From Acting Back In 2017

Daniel Day-Lewis Opens Up About Retiring From Acting | Access Hollywood

In a new interview, Daniel Day-Lewis discusses his much-discussed decision to retire from acting, revealing that he hadn't intended on doing so before working on the couture drama "Phantom Thread." "Phantom Thread" is a period piece about the life of a couture designer.

COPYRIGHT_WI: Published on https://washingtonindependent.com/w/daniel-day-lewis/ by Amandeep Coleman on 2022-06-22T01:06:31.591Z

According to Day-Lewis in an interview with W Magazine, "I had no idea I was going to cease acting when I started working on the picture. I do know that Paul [Thomas Anderson] and I had a lot of laughs before we started working on the film. And then we had to stop laughing because we were both overcome with a sense of desolation at the same time. We were taken completely by surprise since we had no idea what we had given birth to. It was difficult to deal with. It was, and continues to be."

When Day-Lewis announced his retirement in June, Variety was the first to break the news. It was said in his initial announcement that "Daniel Day-Lewis will no longer be working as an actor." He owes a debt of gratitude to all of his partners and listeners throughout the course of his long career. The decision was made on his own initiative, and neither he nor his agents would make any more comments on the matter."

Despite his best efforts, Day-Lewis was unable to provide a specific explanation for his choice to leave the acting industry. "I haven't been able to figure it out," he said. "However, it has settled on me, and it is simply there... I'm hesitant to use the overused term "artist," yet there was a sense of duty that hovered over me as a result of my work as an artist. I have to believe in the worth of what I'm doing in order to succeed. It is possible to feel that the task is critical. It's almost too good to be true. And if the audience believes that, that should be sufficient evidence in my opinion. However, this hasn't been the case lately."

Although Day-Lewis put in a significant amount of effort to prepare for his role as Reynolds Woodcock in "Phantom Thread," which included working as an apprentice under the costume department head at the New York City Ballet and actually sewing a Balenciaga dress, he has stated that he has no plans to see the finished film.

As he explained, "My disinterest in seeing the picture is tied to my recent decision to retire from the acting business." However, that is not the reason why the melancholy has persisted. "Something happened during the recounting of the story, and I'm not sure what it was or why it happened." Some have speculated that he will return to acting at some point, but Day-Lewis did not appear to be interested in the prospect. He admitted that he had considered abandoning acting after emerging from other parts and that announcing his retirement was "uncharacteristic" of him. He also said that he had considered quitting acting after emerging from other roles. "However, I wanted to draw a line somewhere," he explained. The thought of being drawn into another project was too tempting. Throughout my life, I've bragged about how I should stop acting, and I'm not sure what was different this time, but the instinct to quit took hold and eventually turned into an obsession. "It was something I felt obligated to do."

Daniel Day-Lewis is the only performer in history to have won three Academy Awards for best actor. For his work as Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," as a predatory oil baron in "There Will Be Blood," and as a writer and artist Christy Brown in "My Left Foot," he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. In addition to "Gangs of New York," he received two further Academy Award nominations for "In the Name of the Father."

The Extremeness Of Daniel Day-Lewis' Method Acting

Daniel Day-Lewis talks method acting

Method acting enables actors to dive deeply into the brains of particular characters throughout their performances. They put aside their own personalities and inclinations in order to fully embody the personas that have been assigned to them. This approach is very widespread, but actor Daniel Day-Lewis takes it a step further by employing method acting. Day-Lewis is widely considered as one of the finest performers of all time, and he is equally well-known for his meticulous preparation for roles as he is for his mind-blowing performances.

Several performers and filmmakers have spoken about what it's like to collaborate with Day-Lewis in the past. According to their testimonies, he is compulsively driven to his work and strives to bring his characters to life as realistically as possible. To put it another way, Day-Lewis can be intense; the man is serious about his work. Even if his degree of concentration appears to be a little scary, he is definitely dedicated to and passionate about his profession.

He Learned To Speak Czech For The Unbearable Lightness Of Being

The actor Daniel Day-Lewis is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for his role as Daniel Day in the film The Great Gatsby. Lewis is a diligent student who completes his assignments on time. In his lore, it is said that he learned to speak Czech in order to play the philandering brain surgeon Tomas in the film adaptation of Milan Kundera's novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being in 1984. This narrative has become an important part of his legend. The mythology was exacerbated by the fact that he stated in an interview with The Guardian in 2008, "I believed it was a mistake to make the movie." According to him, "the concept of speaking English with a Czech accent without really speaking Czech meant that it wasn't coming from anyplace." He also criticized himself for his lack of Czech proficiency. "I was aware that the kernel of truth that I require somewhere in a role would be absent from the performance."

Make yourself a little less difficult to love, Daniel Day-Lewis! Those around you recognized and admired your degree of dedication. "I think [the actor] went through a lot of anguish with that role," the film's director Philip Kaufman subsequently admitted to The New York Times. "He was making an attempt to become Czech." When your objective is to actually become Czech, you're setting yourself up for failure from the start.

Locked Himself In Solitary Confinement For In The Name Of The Father

In the Name of the Father recounts the lives of four men who were wrongfully accused of bombing multiple pubs in Guildford, England, during the Troubles, which resulted in the deaths of four British troops. Gerry Conlon, one of these guys, is played by Daniel Day-Lewis, who portrays him as having gone through hell after being condemned.

As reported by the Telegraph, Day-Lewis spent three days in solitary confinement without access to water in order to prepare for his part as the villain. When the crew went by, he made them throw cold water on him, which he found quite amusing. And the water would have seemed especially colder given that Day-Lewis had to lose 50 pounds for the role, significantly altering his physical shape long before it became synonymous with Christian Bale.

Sheridan's 1993 biopic, which was based on true events, features Day-Lewis as an inmate who was falsely convicted and sentenced to more than a decade in jail. During his preparation for the role, the actor lost 50 pounds and endured around 48 hours in solitary confinement without access to food or drink.

In spite of the fact that I am capable of being quite scatty and lethargic, the one thing that appears to have been given to me is the capacity to concentrate on anything I choose to devote my time to," the actor stated. "It's possible that I have a highly developed ability for self-delusion, therefore convincing myself that I'm someone else isn't an issue for me!" he added.

Daniel Day-Lewis Went To The Brink For The Last Of The Mohicans

Daniel Day-Lewis learned how to survive in a wilderness in order to portray the white adopted son of a Mohican tribe. This included learning how to capture and skin animals, build fire, and fire a pistol (via Little White Lies). Even further, the actor immersed himself in the play by carrying a pistol everywhere he went and hinting that he was having difficulty distinguishing himself from the character. He admitted that when he returned to civilization after filming, he was plagued with hallucinations and claustrophobia for many days (via The New York Times). It was almost as if the Mohican tribesman had taken over the actor's entire state of awareness.

Ultimately, Day-Lewis recovered, but the difficult nature of his recovery process may have explained why he was so selective about the assignments he chose after a certain point. "The one thing that appears to have been given to me... is the capacity to concentrate on anything I choose to devote my time to," the actor previously stated in an interview. Having a partner who is as committed as he is maybe both a benefit and a curse.

Learned Boxing For 18 Months For The Boxer

Danny Flynn is an aspiring boxer who is desperate to begin his life after being released from jail. However, his past continues to haunt him in Jim Sheridan's 1997 sports drama, which stars Day-Lewis as Flynn. Daniel Day-Lewis was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film.

Day-Lewis is said to have trained for three years in order to get into the correct mental state of a pugilist in order to prepare for the part. His trainer claims that Day-Lewis has acquired the level of proficiency necessary for professional competition "assuming you exclude the top 10 middleweights in the United Kingdom."

The Boxer, like the majority of boxing films, is a sports drama centered on a character who utilizes the sport to divert his or her attention away from a criminal existence. Day-Lewis portrays Danny Flynn, a former IRA member, and in order to prepare for the part, he spent more than a year training with professional boxers in Ireland.

According to Talk Sport, Day-Lewis didn't simply train with anybody; he did it with Conor McGregor's personal trainer, Barry McGuigan, who is also a professional fighter. After such a demanding performance, Day-Lewis would not return to acting until Gangs of New York, which he would star in five years later.

Learning Dressmaking For Two Years For Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread is the latest and final film in which Day-Lewis appears as the main character since he has once again retired from acting, but this time it appears to be for good. Despite the fact that the film was a small success, the actor was able to go out on a high note. Some Redditors believe Phantom Thread is dull, the film, which follows a 1950s seamstress who falls in love with a server, is nevertheless extremely detailed. For the film, Day-Lewis spent a year working as an apprentice for Marc Happel, the head of the New York Ballet's costume department, according to Slash Film. He even learned how to build a Balenciaga gown from scratch, as reported by the website Slash Film.

It has always been a source of debate and interest about Day-Lewis' techniques, and his most recent portrayal as Reynolds Woodcock in Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread does not disappoint in this regard. Vicky Krieps, who portrays Alma, Day-Lewis' on-screen girlfriend, and muse, has stated that she did not meet Day-Lewis until they were in character and on set filming their first scene together, at his wish, according to reports.

According to reports, he learned the technique of dressmaking while preparing for the part, and he is even considering quitting acting to pursue a career in dressmaking after falling in love with the profession. Whether the latter is a whimsical public relations construct or not, it definitely corresponds to the audience's expectations of the actor, who had previously relocated to Italy to train as an apprentice shoemaker before returning to the United States.

Spent Time In A Cerebral Palsy Clinic For My Left Foot

Darren Day-Lewis stars as Christie Brown, a writer, and artist who suffers from cerebral palsy and can only use his left foot in the film My Left Foot. In order to prepare for the part, the actor visited a cerebral palsy clinic in order to better understand those who were affected by the disease. However, he quickly went above and beyond in his preparations.

The actor learned to write and paint with his toes while filming My Left Foot, which is based on the autobiography of Irish writer, painter, and cerebral palsy sufferer Christy Brown. He also spent eight weeks in a cerebral palsy clinic in Dublin to truly understand the condition while filming the film.

According to Esquire, Day-Lewis once again forced the cast and crew to participate in his severe manner of acting, this time for a third time. The crew was compelled to serve him his meals, just as they were compelled to feed Brown, and they even had to carry him between sets. Day-Lewis would also go to restaurants in his wheelchair and impersonate Brown when he wasn't on the set. But it was all for the sake of giving the finest performance he possibly could, and it did, since My Left Foot is the best Day-Lewis film, according to Metacritic, so it was all worth it.

They were not exempt from the method-acting load, either: he refused to leave his wheelchair for the duration of the shoot, requiring personnel to lift him in and out of the car on a daily basis, and insisted on being spoon-fed meals throughout the shoot. "He'd address you by your screen name, and you'd address him as Christy. It was complete and utter madness. You'd be the one feeding him and wheeling him around the place. "I only saw dad walking once during the entire film," Kirsten Sheridan, Sheridan's daughter, remembered.

Refused To Wear A Winter Coat And Caught Pneumonia For Gangs Of New York

Method acting is one thing, but getting into character to the point of contracting pneumonia is a completely different ballgame altogether. A part that is unlike any of his past roles, the nasty and profane killer Bill the Butcher, inspired Day-Lewis to come out of retirement and portray it in Gangs of New York.

However, according to Looper, because the Martin Scorsese-directed epic is set in 1862 and Day-Lewis insisted on constantly dressing in historical attire, he contracted pneumonia while filming in Rome during the cold months. The actor, however, responded by refusing to accept modern medication as a way of retaliating. According to the report, the actor came dangerously close to death.

As if contracting pneumonia and coming dangerously near to death weren't enough, Day-Lewis discovered something of a party trick during filming Gangs of New York that caused quite a stir among his co-stars. As reported by The Baltimore Sun, the actor employed prosthetic glass for Bill the Butcher's glass eye, rather than merely wearing a ghoulish-looking contact lens, as most performers would do for their glass eyes.

On top of that, Day-Lewis has learned how to tap on his eye with the end of a knife without blinking, which gives the scene a more genuine appearance. Those who are sensitive to auditory or visual stimuli should avoid watching the film because of the violence depicted there.

He Got Into A Real Fight For His Role In There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood is a dramatic and suspenseful film. And it's likely that's why Daniel Day-portrayal Lewis's of the character is so spot on. For the cameras, Day-Lewis unleashed a brutal beating on a co-star in order to show his complete devotion to his vicious character, Daniel Plainview. It was his and Paul Dano's roles in the film that they portrayed enemies, and when the two came to blows, the imposing method actor didn't hold back. Day-Lewis made the following observation:

"I got slapped in the face for every take. And that first slap always provided me with a good amount of inspiration. But then, after a couple of takes, someone saw the mud and added that into the equation. And sure enough, before long I’m getting slapped and dragged by the hair, and having Daniel stuff handfuls of mud into my mouth. It’s tough at the moment, but when you look back on it, it’s actually sort of fun."


Daniel Day-Lewis has vowed to retire several times in the past, but this time he's certain, absolutely certain, no-takesies-backsies: Daniel Day-Lewis is retiring. As a result, while this is awful news for us (after all, he is the greatest actor of all time), it is almost certainly fantastic news for him.

Hollywood's favorite Oscar magnet has been putting himself through hell for 36 years for the sake of art, and the stories of his infamously grueling method acting approach will almost certainly never be duplicated by anyone else in history.

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About The Authors

Amandeep Coleman

Amandeep Coleman - Amandeep had never known a moment when she wasn't reading or making up stories, having been born into a family of readers. She took out a pencil and notebook during the now-famous blizzard and started writing down one of those stories. It was there that I began my professional life. Her first book was written after several rejections and manuscripts. She is a member of many writers' organizations and has received several accolades from her peers and the publishing industry. The New Yorker recently dubbed her "America's favorite novelist".

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