Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day-Lewis

Born: April 29, 1957
Age: 61
Birthplace: Kensington, London, England, UK
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Biography

Sir Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis (born 29 April 1957) is a retired English actor who holds both British and Irish citizenship. Born and raised in London, he excelled on stage at the National Youth Theatre, before being accepted at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, which he attended for three years.

Despite his traditional training at the Bristol Old Vic, Day-Lewis is considered a method actor, known for his constant devotion to and research of his roles. He would often remain completely in character for the duration of the shooting schedules of his films, even to the point of adversely affecting his health. He is one of the most selective actors in the film industry, having starred in only six films since 1998, with as many as five years between roles. Protective of his private life, he rarely gives interviews and makes very few public appearances. In June 2014, he received a knighthood for services to drama. Day-Lewis announced his retirement in 2017, following the completion of his acting role in Phantom Thread.

Day-Lewis shifted between theatre and film for most of the early 1980s, joining the Royal Shakespeare Company and playing Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and Flute in A Midsummer Night's Dream, before appearing in the 1984 film The Bounty. He starred in My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), his first critically acclaimed role, and gained further public notice with A Room with a View (1985). He then assumed leading man status with The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988).

One of the most acclaimed actors in film history, Day-Lewis has earned numerous awards, including three Academy Awards for Best Actor for his performances in My Left Foot (1989), There Will Be Blood (2007) and Lincoln (2012), making him the only male actor in history to have three wins in the lead actor category and one of only three male actors to win three Oscars. He was also nominated in this category for In the Name of the Father (1993), Gangs of New York (2002) and Phantom Thread (2017). He has also won four BAFTA Awards for Best Actor, three Screen Actors Guild Awards and two Golden Globe Awards. In November 2012, Time named Day-Lewis the "World's Greatest Actor".

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Early life

Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis was born on 29 April 1957 in Kensington, London, the second child of poet Cecil Day-Lewis (1904-1972) and his second wife, actress Jill Balcon (1925-2009). His older sister, Tamasin Day-Lewis (born 1953), is a television chef and food critic. His father, who was born in the Irish town of Ballintubbert, County Laois, was of Protestant Anglo-Irish descent, lived in England from the age of two, and was appointed Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom. Day-Lewis' mother was Jewish; her ancestors were immigrants to England in the late 19th century, from Latvia and Poland. His maternal grandfather, Sir Michael Balcon, became the head of Ealing Studios, helping develop the new British film industry.

Two years after Day-Lewis' birth, he moved with his family to Croom's Hill in Greenwich. He and his older sister did not see much of their older two half-brothers, who had been teenagers when Day-Lewis' father divorced their mother. Living in Greenwich (he attended Invicta and Sherington Primary Schools), Day-Lewis had to deal with tough South London children. Identified as Jewish and "posh", he was often bullied. He mastered the local accent and mannerisms, and credits that as being his first convincing performance. Later in life, he has been known to speak of himself as very much a disorderly character in his younger years, often in trouble for shoplifting and other petty crimes.

In 1968, Day-Lewis' parents, finding his behaviour to be too wild, sent him as a boarder to the independent Sevenoaks School in Kent. At the school, he was introduced to his three most prominent interests: woodworking, acting, and fishing. However, his disdain for the school grew, and after two years at Sevenoaks, he was transferred to another independent school, Bedales in Petersfield, Hampshire. His sister was already a student there, and it had a more relaxed and creative ethos. He made his film debut at the age of 14 in Sunday Bloody Sunday, in which he played a vandal in an uncredited role. He described the experience as "heaven" for getting paid £2 to vandalise expensive cars parked outside his local church.

For a few weeks in 1972, the Day-Lewis family lived at Lemmons, the north London home of Kingsley Amis and Elizabeth Jane Howard. Day-Lewis' father had pancreatic cancer and Howard invited the family to Lemmons as a place they could use to rest and recuperate. His father died there in May that year. By the time he left Bedales in 1975, Day-Lewis' unruly attitude had diminished and he needed to make a career choice. Although he had excelled on stage at the National Youth Theatre in London, he applied for a five-year apprenticeship as a cabinet-maker. He was rejected due to lack of experience. He was accepted at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, which he attended for three years along with Miranda Richardson, eventually performing at the Bristol Old Vic itself. At one point he played understudy to Pete Postlethwaite, with whom he would later co-star in the film In the Name of the Father (1994).

John Hartoch, Day-Lewis' acting teacher at Bristol Old Vic, recalled:

There was something about him even then. He was quiet and polite, but he was clearly focused on his acting - he had a burning quality. He seemed to have something burning beneath the surface. There was a lot going on beneath that quiet appearance. There was one performance in particular, when the students put on a play called Class Energy, when he really seemed to shine-and it became obvious to us, the staff, that we had someone rather special on our hands.

Career

1980s

During the early 1980s, Day-Lewis worked in theatre and television including Frost in May (where he played an impotent man-child) and How Many Miles to Babylon? (as a World War I officer torn between allegiances to Britain and Ireland) for the BBC. Eleven years after his film debut, Day-Lewis had a small part in the film Gandhi (1982) as Colin, a South African street thug who racially bullies the title character. In late 1982 he had his big theatre break when he took over the lead in Another Country, which had premiered in late 1981. Next he took on a supporting role as the conflicted, but ultimately loyal first mate in The Bounty (1984). He next joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, playing Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and Flute in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

In 1985, Day-Lewis gave his first critically acclaimed performance playing a young gay English man in an interracial relationship with a Pakistani youth in the film My Beautiful Laundrette. Directed by Stephen Frears and written by Hanif Kureishi, the film is set in 1980s London during Margaret Thatcher's tenure as Prime Minister. It is the first of three Day-Lewis films to appear in the BFI's 100 greatest British films of the 20th century, ranking 50th.

Day-Lewis gained further public notice that year with A Room with a View (1985), based on the novel by E. M. Forster. Set in the Edwardian period of turn-of-the-20th-century England, he portrayed an entirely different character: Cecil Vyse, the proper upper-class fiancé of the main character. In 1987, Day-Lewis assumed leading man status by starring in Philip Kaufman's adaptation of Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, in which he portrayed a Czech surgeon whose hyperactive sex life is thrown into disarray when he allows himself to become emotionally involved with a woman. During the eight-month shoot he learned Czech and first began to refuse to break character on or off the set for the entire shooting schedule. During this period, Day-Lewis and other young British actors of the time, such as Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tim Roth, and Bruce Payne, were dubbed the "Brit Pack".

Day-Lewis threw his personal version of method acting into full throttle in 1989 with his performance as Christy Brown in Jim Sheridan's My Left Foot. It garnered him numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor and BAFTA Award for Best Actor. Brown, known as a writer and painter, was born with cerebral palsy and was able to control only his left foot. Day-Lewis prepared for the role by making frequent visits to Sandymount School Clinic in Dublin, where he formed friendships with several people with disabilities, some of whom had no speech. During filming, he again refused to break character. Playing a severely paralysed character on screen, off screen Day-Lewis had to be moved around the set in his wheelchair, and crew members would curse at having to lift him over camera and lighting wires, all so that he might gain insight into all aspects of Brown's life, including the embarrassments. Crew members were also required to spoon-feed him. It was rumoured that he had broken two ribs during filming from assuming a hunched-over position in his wheelchair for so many weeks, something he denied years later at the 2013 Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Day-Lewis returned to the stage in 1989 to work with Richard Eyre, as the title character in Hamlet at the National Theatre, London, but collapsed during the scene where the ghost of Hamlet's father appears before him. He began sobbing uncontrollably and refused to go back on stage; he was replaced by Jeremy Northam, who received a standing ovation. Ian Charleson formally replaced Day-Lewis for the rest of the run, but his ill-health forced Northam to stand in again many times. Although the incident was officially attributed to exhaustion, Day-Lewis later claimed to have seen the ghost of his own father.

He has not appeared on stage since. The media attention following his breakdown on-stage contributed to his decision to eventually move from England to Ireland in the mid-1990s to regain a sense of privacy amidst his increasing fame.

1990s

Day-Lewis starred in the American film The Last of the Mohicans (1992), based on a novel by James Fenimore Cooper. Day-Lewis' character research for this film was well-publicised; he reportedly underwent rigorous weight training and learned to live off the land and forest where his character lived, camping, hunting and fishing. Day-Lewis also added to his wood-working skills and learned how to make canoes. He carried a long rifle at all times during filming to remain in character and learned how to skin animals.

Stories of his immersion in roles are legion. Playing Gerry Conlon In the Name of the Father, Day-Lewis lived on prison rations to lose 30 lb, spent extended periods in the jail cell on set, went without sleep for two days, was interrogated for three days by real policemen, and asked that the crew hurl abuse and cold water at him. For The Boxer in 1997, he trained for weeks with the former world champion Barry McGuigan, who said that he became good enough to turn professional. The actor’s injuries include a broken nose and a damaged disc in his lower back.

—"Day-Lewis aims for perfection", The Telegraph

He returned to work with Jim Sheridan on In the Name of the Father, in which he played Gerry Conlon, one of the Guildford Four, who were wrongfully convicted of a bombing carried out by the Provisional IRA. He lost 30 pounds (14 kg) for the part, kept his Northern Irish accent on and off the set for the entire shooting schedule, and spent stretches of time in a prison cell. He also insisted that crew members throw cold water at him and verbally abuse him. The film earned him his second Academy Award nomination, third BAFTA nomination, and second Golden Globe nomination.

Day-Lewis returned to the United States in 1993, playing Newland Archer in Martin Scorsese's adaptation of the Edith Wharton novel The Age of Innocence. To prepare for the film, set in America's Gilded Age, he wore 1870s-period aristocratic clothing around New York City for two months, including top hat, cane and cape.

In 1996, Day-Lewis starred in The Crucible, a film version of the play by Arthur Miller. During the shoot he met his future wife, Rebecca Miller, the author's daughter. He followed that with Jim Sheridan's The Boxer, starring as a former boxer and IRA member recently released from prison. His preparation included training with former boxing world champion Barry McGuigan, and attending professional boxing matches such as the Nigel Benn vs. Gerald McClellan world title fight at London Arena.

Following The Boxer, Day-Lewis took a leave of absence from acting by going into "semi-retirement" and returning to his old passion of woodworking. He moved to Florence, Italy, where he became intrigued by the craft of shoemaking. He apprenticed to as a shoemaker with Stefano Bemer. For a time his exact whereabouts and actions were not made publicly known.

2000s

After a five-year absence from filming, Day-Lewis returned to act in Gangs of New York (2002), directed by Scorsese and produced by Harvey Weinstein. In his role as the villainous gang leader William "Bill the Butcher" Cutting, he starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, who played Bill's young protégé. He began his lengthy, self-disciplined process by taking lessons as an apprentice butcher, hiring a butcher from Peckham, south London to instruct him in carving up carcasses. He also hired circus performers to teach him to throw knives. While filming, he was never out of character between takes (including keeping his character's New York accent). At one point during filming, having been diagnosed with pneumonia, he refused to wear a warmer coat or to take treatment because it was not in keeping with the period; however, he was eventually persuaded to seek medical treatment. His performance in Gangs of New York earned him his third Academy Award nomination and won him his second BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

After Gangs of New York, Day-Lewis' wife, director Rebecca Miller, offered him the lead role in her film The Ballad of Jack and Rose, in which he played a dying man with regrets over how his life had evolved and over how he had brought up his teenage daughter. During filming he arranged to live separately from his wife to achieve the "isolation" needed to focus on his own character's reality. The film received mixed reviews.

In 2007, Day-Lewis starred in Paul Thomas Anderson's loose film adaptation of the Upton Sinclair novel Oil!, titled There Will Be Blood. Day-Lewis received the Academy Award for Best Actor, BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama, Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (which he dedicated to Heath Ledger, saying that he was inspired by Ledger's acting and calling the actor's performance in Brokeback Mountain "unique, perfect"), and a variety of film critics' circle awards for the role. In winning the Best Actor Oscar, Day-Lewis joined Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson as the only Best Actor winners awarded an Oscar in two non-consecutive decades.

In 2009, Day-Lewis starred in Rob Marshall's musical adaptation Nine as film director Guido Contini. Day-Lewis was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his role, as well as sharing nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast and the Satellite Award for Best Cast - Motion Picture with the rest of the cast members.

2010s

"He's like Olivier in his prime., you expect something spectacular when he's got a film out. He's more selective than Brando, and it's turned his movies into events."

—David Poland on Day-Lewis, February 2013

Day-Lewis played Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln (2012). Based on the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, the film began shooting in Richmond, Virginia in October 2011. Day-Lewis spent a year in preparation for the role, a time he had requested from Spielberg. He read over 100 books on Lincoln, and long worked with the makeup artist to achieve a physical likeness to Lincoln. Lincoln received positive critical reviews, much of it directed at Day-Lewis' performance. It also became a commercial success, grossing over $275 million worldwide. In November 2012, Day-Lewis received the BAFTA Britannia Award for Excellence in Film.

At the 70th Golden Globe Awards on 14 January 2013, Day-Lewis won his second Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, and at the 66th British Academy Film Awards on 10 February, he won his fourth BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. At the 85th Academy Awards, Day-Lewis became the first three-time recipient of the Best Actor Oscar for his role in Lincoln.

John Hartoch, Day-Lewis' acting teacher at Bristol Old Vic theatre school, said of his former pupil's achievement,

Although we have quite an impressive alumni - everyone from Jeremy Irons to Patrick Stewart - I suppose he is now probably the best known, and we're very proud of all he's achieved. I certainly hold him up to current students of an example, particularly as an example of how to manage your career with great integrity. He's never courted fame, and as a result he's never had his private life impeached upon by the press. He's clearly not interested in celebrity as such - he's just interested in his acting. He is still a great craftsman.

Following his historic third Oscar win, there was much debate about Day-Lewis' standing among the greatest actors in the history of cinema. Joe Queenan in The Guardian stated, "Arguing whether Daniel Day-Lewis is a greater actor than Laurence Olivier, or Richard Burton, or Marlon Brando, is like arguing whether Messi is more talented than Pelé, whether Napoleon Bonaparte edges out Alexander the Great as a military genius." Day-Lewis himself when asked what it was like to be "the world's greatest actor", responded "It's daft isn't it? It changes all the time". Shortly after winning the Oscar for Lincoln, Day-Lewis announced he would be taking a break from acting, retreating back to his Georgian farmhouse in County Wicklow, Ireland for the next five years, before making another film.

After a five year hiatus, Day-Lewis returned to the screen to star in Paul Thomas Anderson's historical drama Phantom Thread in December 2017. Set in 1950s London, Day-Lewis played obsessive dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock, who falls in love with a waitress, played by Vicky Krieps. Prior to the film's release, on 20 June 2017, Day-Lewis' spokeswoman, Leslee Dart, announced that he was retiring from acting. Unable to give an exact reason for his decision, in a November 2017 interview Day-Lewis stated, "I haven't figured it out. But it's settled on me, and it’s just there…I dread to use the overused word 'artist,' but there's something of the responsibility of the artist that hung over me. I need to believe in the value of what I’m doing. The work can seem vital. Irresistible, even. And if an audience believes it, that should be good enough for me. But, lately, it isn't.” The film and his performance was met with universal praise from critics.

Personal life

Protective of his privacy, Day-Lewis described his life as a "lifelong study in evasion". He had a relationship with French actress Isabelle Adjani that lasted six years, eventually ending after a split and reconciliation. Their son Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis was born on April 9, 1995 in New York City, a few months after the relationship ended.

In 1996, while working on the film version of the stage play The Crucible, he visited the home of playwright Arthur Miller, where he was introduced to the writer's daughter, Rebecca Miller. They married later that year on 13 November 1996. The couple have two sons, Ronan Cal Day-Lewis (born 1998) and Cashel Blake Day-Lewis (born 2002). They divide their time between their homes in Manhattan, New York and Annamoe, County Wicklow, Ireland.

Day-Lewis has held dual British and Irish citizenship since 1993. He has maintained his Annamoe home since 1997. He stated "I do have dual citizenship, but I think of England as my country. I miss London very much but I couldn't live there because there came a time when I needed to be private and was forced to be public by the press. I couldn't deal with it". He is a supporter of South East London football club Millwall.

On 15 July 2010, Day-Lewis received an honorary doctorate in letters from the University of Bristol, in part because of his attendance of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in his youth. Day-Lewis has stated that he had "no real religious education" and that he "suppose" he is "a die-hard agnostic". In October 2012, he donated to the University of Oxford papers belonging to his father, the poet Cecil Day-Lewis, including early drafts of the poet's work and letters from actor John Gielgud and literary figures such as W. H. Auden, Robert Graves, and Philip Larkin. In July 2015, he became the Honorary President of the Poetry Archive. A registered UK charity, the Poetry Archive is a free website containing a growing collection of recordings of English-language poets reading their work. In June 2017, Day-Lewis became a patron of the Wilfred Owen Association. Day-Lewis’s association with Wilfred Owen began with his father, Cecil Day-Lewis, who edited Owen's poetry in the 1960s and his mother, Jill Balcon, who was a vice-president of the Wilfred Owen Association until her death in 2009.

In 2008, when he received the Academy Award for Best Actor from Helen Mirren (who was on presenting duty having won the previous year's Best Actress Oscar for playing Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen), Day-Lewis knelt before her and she tapped him on each shoulder with the Oscar statuette, to which he quipped; "That's the closest I'll come to ever getting a knighthood". Day-Lewis was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to drama. On 14 November 2014, he was knighted by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, in an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Director Notes
1971 Sunday Bloody Sunday Child Vandal John Schlesinger Uncredited
1982 Gandhi Colin Richard Attenborough
1984 Bounty, TheThe Bounty John Fryer Roger Donaldson
1985 My Beautiful Laundrette Johnny Stephen Frears
Room with a View, AA Room with a View Cecil Vyse James Ivory
1986 Nanou Maxo Conny Templeman
1988 Unbearable Lightness of Being, TheThe Unbearable Lightness of Being Tomas Philip Kaufman
Stars and Bars Henderson Dores Pat O'Connor
1989 Eversmile, New Jersey Fergus O'Connell Carlos Sorín
My Left Foot Christy Brown Jim Sheridan Academy Award for Best Actor
BAFTA Award for Best Actor
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actor
1992 Last of the Mohicans, TheThe Last of the Mohicans Hawkeye (Nathaniel Poe) Michael Mann Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Actor
1993 Age of Innocence, TheThe Age of Innocence Newland Archer Martin Scorsese
In the Name of the Father Gerry Conlon Jim Sheridan Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Actor
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actor
1996 Crucible, TheThe Crucible John Proctor Nicholas Hytner
1997 Boxer, TheThe Boxer Danny Flynn Jim Sheridan Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actor
2002 Gangs of New York William "Bill the Butcher" Cutting Martin Scorsese BAFTA Award for Best Actor
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actor
2005 Ballad of Jack and Rose, TheThe Ballad of Jack and Rose Jack Slavin Rebecca Miller
2007 There Will Be Blood Daniel Plainview Paul Thomas Anderson Academy Award for Best Actor
BAFTA Award for Best Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor
2009 Nine Guido Contini Rob Marshall Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actor
2012 Lincoln Abraham Lincoln Steven Spielberg Academy Award for Best Actor
BAFTA Award for Best Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor
2017 Phantom Thread Reynolds Woodcock Paul Thomas Anderson Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Actor
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actor

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1980 Shoestring DJ Episode: "The Farmer Had a Wife"
1981 Thank You, P. G. Wodehouse Psmith Television film
Artemis 81 Library Student Television film
1982 How Many Miles to Babylon? Alec Television film
Frost in May Archie Hughes-Forret Episode: "Beyond the Glass"
1983 Play of the Month Gordon Whitehouse Episode: "Dangerous Corner"
1985 My Brother Jonathan Jonathan Dakers 5 episodes
1986 The Insurance Man Dr. Kafka Television film

Music

Year Title Role Notes
2005 The Ballad of Jack and Rose Original score producer
2009 Nine Performer on "Guido's Song", "I Can't Make This Movie"

Theatre

Year Title Role Director Theatre
1979 The Recruiting Officer Townsperson/Soldier Adrian Noble Theatre Royal, Bristol
Troilus and Cressida Deiphobus Richard Cottrell Theatre Royal, Bristol
Funny Peculiar Stanley Baldry Pete Postlethwaite Little Theatre, Bristol
1979-80 Old King Cole The Amazing Faz Bob Crowley Old Vic Theatre, Bristol
1980 Class Enemy (play) Iron David Rome Old Vic Theatre, Bristol
Edward II Leicester Richard Cottrell Old Vic Theatre, Bristol
Oh, What a Lovely War! Unknown David Tucker Theatre Royal, Bristol
A Midsummer Night's Dream Philostrate Richard Cottrell Theatre Royal, Bristol
1981 Look Back in Anger Jimmy Porter George Costigan Little Theatre, Bristol
Dracula Count Dracula George Costigan Little Theatre, Bristol
1982-83 Another Country Guy Bennett Stuart Burge Queen's Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue
1983-84 A Midsummer Night's Dream & Romeo and Juliet Flute & Romeo respectively Sheila Hancock & John Caird On a Royal Shakespeare Company Regional Tour
1984 Dracula Count Dracula Christopher Bond Half Moon Theatre, London
1986 Futurists Volodya Mayakovsky Richard Eyre Royal National Theatre, London
1989 Hamlet Hamlet Richard Eyre Royal National Theatre, London

[ Source: Wikipedia ]