On April 29, Daniel Day-Lewis, a British-Irish actor, celebrates his 64th birthday. He is the only three-time Best Actor Oscar winner (Jack Nicholson has one of three supporting figures), having starred in less than three dozen films. Day-Lewis is really careful in choosing projects, preparing for a role, and even more so for acting out. We recall the main work of the actor in the cinema.
My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989)
Daniel Day-Lewis began his career in theater. In 1975 he played at the British National Youth Theater. Then he entered the Old Vic Theater School in Bristol, where he studied for three years. Then he began performing at the Royal Shakespeare Theater and also thought about working in films. Apart from a couple of episodic roles, the Oscar-winning film “Gandhi” in 1982 can be considered the debut for Day-Lewis in cinema. For a couple of minor roles, the actor has grown to the main ones. And already the second leading role in his career in the film “My Left Foot” became an Oscar winner for him. To prepare for the role of Christy Brown, a patient with cerebral palsy, the actor spent a long time communicating with people with disabilities. He did not leave the character even outside the set.
The film “My Left Foot” is based on the true story of a man named Christy Brown. From birth, he had cerebral palsy. People considered him a half-wit and an inferior person. Even Christie’s own father turned his back on the guy. But the love of his mother and other family members, as well as his personal courage and perseverance, helped Brown to learn how to draw and write with the toes of his left foot. Thus, he began his journey to become one of the most famous Irish writers and artists of the 20th century.
In the Name of the Father (1993)
After the movie “My Left Foot,” Day-Lewis disappeared from the screens for four years. During this time, films about Indians have become very popular in American cinema. So, in 1992 “The Last of the Mohicans” was released. For the filming of this film, Daniel gained weight, seriously improved his physical shape, learned how to drive a canoe, shoot a flintlock, which he did not shoot during the entire filming process, learned the techniques of skinning animals. However, this work went almost unnoticed by the award commissions, unlike his next role in the action-packed drama “In the Name of the Father,” where he played the unfairly accused Irishman Jerry Conlon.
The actor spoke with an Irish accent all the time. He spent time outside of filming in a prison cell and insisted in every possible way that the film crew insulted him and poured cold water on him. As a result, Day-Lewis received nominations for all the most prestigious acting awards, and the film won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. The name of the father, by the way, is also based on real events. In 1975, a series of explosions occurred in the pubs of Guildford (England). This happened just in the midst of the conflict in Northern Ireland. Naturally, the Irish began to blame for the explosions. For example, young men Jerry Conlon, Paul Hill, Patrick Armstrong, and Carol Richardson were sentenced to life in English by the English justice system for acts of terrorism they did not commit. They went down in history as the “Guildford Four.”
Gangs of New York (2002)
After In the Name of the Father, having starred in a couple of films, Day-Lewis again gave up cinema. They say that to convince the actor to take part in filming the film “Gangs of New York,” director Martin Scorsese, producer Harvey Weinstein, and Leonardo DiCaprio personally contacted him. When Daniel Day-Lewis agreed to the role, he, of course, began to prepare for it carefully. For example, the actor worked for a long time as a butcher in London’s butcher shops. His play did not go unnoticed again. Day-Lewis won the United States Actors Guild Award as well as the British Academy BAFTA Award. However, the 2003 Oscar went to Adrien Brody for his performance in The Pianist.
In 1846, in Lower Manhattan, there was a clash between gangs of “Native” Americans and immigrants who had only recently settled in New York. There will be no mercy for anyone. American leader Bill “The Butcher” Cutting kills the Irish “Priest” Wellon, who was the leader of the immigrants. Amsterdam, the son of the deceased, goes to a reformatory school. Bill Cutting becomes the master of the surrounding neighborhoods. In 1863, Amsterdam returned to his native streets with the sole purpose of taking revenge on his father’s murderer. The only question is how to do it: to get into the credibility of “The Butcher” or gather the old Irish gangs?
“Oil” (There Will Be Blood, 2007)
In the five years after the release of The Gangs of New York, Daniel Day-Lewis starred in only two films: The Ballad of Jack and Rose, directed by his wife Rebecca Miller, and the drama about a father and daughter that went unnoticed by the general public, and Oil, which brought the actor the second “Oscar.” In the film by Paul Thomas Anderson, he portrayed the insensitive and greedy oilman Daniel Plainview. This work became for him what is now called the pinnacle of the acting skills of Day-Lewis. The film’s script is a loose interpretation of Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil! (Oil!). By the way, the film is also considered the pinnacle of skill for the director.
At the end of the 19th century, Daniel Plainview was searching for gold and silver in California. Falling into a mine and breaking his leg, he finds a rock sample indicating oil in the area. Plainview decides to go into the oil business. He despises people, so he cannot find those with whom he could get close. He chases money to rise above the crowd he hates. And he is ready to do anything to become the largest oil tycoon. Deceive the priests, drive out your own son, even kill a man.
In 2009, Daniel Day-Lewis starred in Rob Marshall’s musical Nine. He received another Golden Globe nomination for this work, but the true star of the film was Penelope Cruz (the only one who received an Oscar nomination for this film). Day-Lewis also benefited from the role in the biopic “Lincoln,” directed by Steven Spielberg. Brilliantly playing the sixteenth US President Abraham Lincoln, the actor won his third Oscar and second Golden Globe. The National Council of Film Critics of the United States and the American Film Institute have placed “Lincoln” in their own list of the year’s ten best films.
In 1865, the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, had two serious tasks: to end the Civil War and ban slavery in the country by adopting an amendment to the Constitution. Neither Lincoln’s closest advisors nor his own family believes in a successful solution to any of them. In addition, his eldest son dreams of serving in the army. Nevertheless, intelligence, political ingenuity, and faith in his goals help Lincoln unite most Republicans and Democrats alike. This allows him to get off the ground in consideration of an amendment to the Constitution by the House of Representatives, which also affects the Civil War.
Phantom Thread (2017)
After Lincoln, Day-Lewis disappeared from the screens again for 5 years. Only Paul Thomas Anderson managed to persuade the actor to participate in his next project. In 2017, the film Phantom Thread was released, where Day-Lewis played the famous English couturier Reynolds Woodcock, who is the collective image of many high fashion figures. You can rest assured that the actor this time was preparing for the role for a very long time, working as an apprentice for the chief costume designer of the New York ballet. He again received nominations for major acting awards. But this work became truly difficult for him because, in the image of Woodok, who was striving for the top in the world of haute couture, forgetting about his own life, Day-Lewis partially saw himself.
The film is set in 1950s London. The famous couturier Reynolds Woodcock creates unique looks for the royal family, movie stars, wealthy heiresses, and socialites. He is charismatic, knows his business, and obsessively seeks to control everything. His sister Cyril is the manager of her brother’s Fashion House. Woodcock wants to be the best and dictate his terms to the world of haute couture. But he misses one important thing in life. And everything changes when Woodcock meets a young and wayward Alma, who immediately becomes his muse. Upon completing filming in this film, Daniel Day-Lewis felt such a deep depression that he decided to leave the film industry for good.