Daniel Day Lewis
- Category : Actor
- Type : Generator
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Split - Small (1,7,13)
- Incarnation Cross : The Four Ways 1
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Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis (born 29 April 1957) is an English actor with both British and Irish citizenship. Born and raised in London, he is the son of Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis and actress Jill Balcon. Despite his traditional actor training at the Bristol Old Vic, he is considered to be a method actor, known for his constant devotion to and research of his roles. He often remains completely in character for the duration of the shooting schedules of his films, even to the point of adversely affecting his health. He is known as being one of the most selective actors in the film industry, having starred in only five films since 1998, with as many as five years between each role.
One of the most acclaimed actors of his generation, his work has earned him numerous awards, including three Academy Awards for Best Actor, for his portrayals of Christy Brown in My Left Foot (1989), Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood (2007), and Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln (2012), a feat which makes him to date the only male actor in history to garner three wins in that category. Day-Lewis has also won four BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Critics' Choice Movie Awards, and two Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor.
Day-Lewis was born in London, the son of poet Cecil Day-Lewis and actress Jill Balcon. His father, who was of Anglo-Irish background, lived mainly in England from the age of two and later became the United Kingdom's Poet Laureate. His mother was Jewish, and his maternal grandparents' families had emigrated to England from Latvia and Poland. His maternal grandfather, Sir Michael Balcon, an important figure in the history of British cinema, was the head of Ealing Studios. Two years after his birth, the family moved to Croom's Hill, Greenwich, south-east London, where Day-Lewis grew up along with his older sister, Tamasin Day-Lewis, who became a documentary filmmaker and television chef.
Living in Greenwich, Day-Lewis found himself among tough South London children, and, being of part Jewish ancestry and "posh", he was often bullied. He mastered the local accent and mannerisms and credits that with being his first convincing performances. Later in life, he was 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's parents, finding his behaviour to be too wild, sent him to the independent Sevenoaks School in Kent as a boarder. Though he detested the school, he was introduced to his three most prominent interests: woodworking, acting, and fishing. His disdain for the school grew, and after two years at Sevenoaks, he was transferred to another independent school, Bedales in Petersfield, Hampshire, which his sister attended, and which had a more relaxed and creative ethos. The transfer led to 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.
Leaving Bedales in 1975, his unruly attitude had faded 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, but was rejected due to lack of experience. He was then accepted at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, which he attended for three years, 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 In the Name of the Father.
During the early '80s, 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 continued his film career with a small part in Gandhi (1982) as Colin, a street thug who bullies the title character, only to be immediately chastised by his high-strung mother. In late 1982 he had his big theatre break when he took over the lead in Another Country. The following year, he had a supporting role as the conflicted, but ultimately loyal first mate in The Bounty, after which he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, playing Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and Flute in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
In 1985, Day-Lewis played a gay man in an interracial relationship in the film My Beautiful Laundrette, set in 1980s London during the period when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. Day-Lewis gained further public notice with A Room with a View (1986). Set in the Edwardian period of turn-of-the-twentieth-century England, he portrayed an entirely different character: Cecil Vyse, the proper upper class fiancé of the main character (played by Helena Bonham Carter). In 1987, Day-Lewis assumed leading man status by starring in Philip Kaufman's adaptation of Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, co-starring Lena Olin and Juliette Binoche, where 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.
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 which garnered him numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor. He prepared for his role by 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 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. 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, in Hamlet at the National Theatre, London, but collapsed in the middle of a scene where the ghost of Hamlet's father first appears to his son. He began sobbing uncontrollably and refused to go back on stage; he was replaced by Jeremy Northam who finished the performance word- and action-perfect and received a standing ovation.Ian Charleson then formally replaced Day-Lewis for the rest of the run, except that ill-health forced Northam to stand in again many times. Although the incident was officially attributed to exhaustion, one rumour following the incident was that Day-Lewis had seen the ghost of his own father. He confirmed on the British celebrity chat show Parkinson that this was true. He has not appeared on stage since.
In 1992, three years after his Oscar win, The Last of the Mohicans was released. Day-Lewis's character research for this film was well-publicized; he reportedly underwent rigorous weight training and learned to live off the land and forest where his character lived, camping, hunting and fishing. He even carried a long rifle at all times during filming in order to remain in character and learned how to skin animals.
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 a substantial amount of weight 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, his third BAFTA nomination, and his second Golden Globe nomination.
Day-Lewis returned in 1993, playing Newland Archer in Martin Scorsese's adaptation of the Edith Wharton novel The Age of Innocence, opposite Winona Ryder and Michelle Pfeiffer. 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 cold weather.
In 1996, Day-Lewis starred in The Crucible, a film version of the play by Arthur Miller, again opposite Winona Ryder. During the shoot he met his future wife, Rebecca Miller, the author's daughter. He followed that with Jim Sheridan's The Boxer as a former boxer and IRA member recently released from prison. His preparation included training with former boxing world champion Barry McGuigan.
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, eventually apprenticing as a shoemaker. For a time his exact whereabouts and actions were not made publicly known. Day-Lewis has declined to discuss this period of his life, stating that "it was a period of my life that I had a right to, without any intervention of that kind."
After a five-year absence from filming, Day-Lewis returned to act in multiple Academy Award-nominated films such as Gangs of New York (2002), a film directed by Scorsese and produced by Harvey Weinstein. In his role as the villain 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, and 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 the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
After Gangs of New York, Day-Lewis's 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 in order to achieve the "isolation" needed to focus on his own character's reality. The film received mixed reviews.
In 2007, Day-Lewis appeared in director Paul Thomas Anderson's loose 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.
In November 2010, it was announced that Day-Lewis would play Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln. Based on the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, the film began shooting in Richmond, Virginia in October 2011. The film was released in selected U.S. cities on 9 November 2012, and then was nationally released on 16 November 2012. Day-Lewis spent a year in preparation for the role, a time he had requested from Spielberg. Day-Lewis read over 100 books on Lincoln, and long worked with the makeup artist to achieve a physical likeness to Lincoln. Lincoln received widespread critical acclaim, much of it directed to Day-Lewis' performance. In December 2012, the movie was nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards including Best Picture (Drama), Best Director for Spielberg, and Best Actor (Drama) for Day-Lewis. It was also nominated for twelve Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for Spielberg and Best Actor for Day-Lewis. It also became a commercial success, grossing over $220 million worldwide. At the 85th Academy Awards in 2013, Day-Lewis became the first three-time recipient of the Best Actor Oscar for his role in Lincoln. Shortly after winning the Oscar, he announced he would be taking a break from acting, feeling it would be difficult to top his performance in Lincoln. On 19 March 2013, a two-DVD set entitled "Daniel Day-Lewis Triple Feature"—a compilation of much of the actor's performances on British TV programs from 1982 to 1986—was scheduled to be released in the U.S. by BBC Home Entertainment.
Day-Lewis rarely discusses his personal life. He had a relationship with French actress Isabelle Adjani, which lasted six years and eventually ended after a split and reconciliation. Their son Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis was born in 1995 in New York City, several 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. The couple have two sons, Ronan Cal Day-Lewis (born 1998) and Cashel Blake Day-Lewis (born 2002) and divide their time between their homes in New York City and Ireland. Day-Lewis became an Irish citizen in 1993 and currently holds British and Irish dual citizenship. 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 "supposes" he is "a die-hard agnostic". In October 2012, he donated to Oxford University 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.