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Oscar Should-Be Winners: Daniel Day-Lewis

February 22, 2008
by findingDulcinea Staff
Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis has long been recognized as one of cinema’s all-time greats. Few actors have honed characters and dominated the screen quite like Day-Lewis, a famously elusive and picky actor who selects roles carefully and has disappeared from the public eye twice for long stretches. Thankfully, he returned to give us the character of Daniel Plainview and the thrill ride of “There Will Be Blood,” credited as one of the best film performances of all time.

Essential Facts on Day-Lewis

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Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis has long been recognized as one of cinema’s all-time greats. Few actors have honed characters and dominated the screen quite like Day-Lewis, a famously elusive and picky actor who selects roles carefully and has disappeared from the public eye twice for long stretches. Thankfully, he returned to give us the character of Daniel Plainview and the thrill ride of “There Will Be Blood,” credited as one of the best film performances of all time.
  • Day-Lewis was born in London, England in 1957 to Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis and actress Jill Balcon. He was educated at public schools and took to studying film and theater with renowned groups like the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • As noted in his biography in the All Movie Guide, Day-Lewis had a serendipitous coming-out party as an actor: “My Beautiful Launderette” and “A Room With a View,” in which he had starkly different supporting roles, opened on the same day in New York City in 1986. Witness both incredible performances with this nine-minute YouTube clip.
  • Well known for his Oscar-winning performance in “My Left Foot,” Day-Lewis followed that breakthrough role with epic films like “In the Name of the Father,” “The Last of the Mohicans,” and “Gangs of New York,” all of which cast him as charismatic and powerful personalities.
  • His finest performance to date is undoubtedly as the shrewd and self-involved oil magnate Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood,” for which he is the front-runner in the Best Actor Oscar category. (The film is nominated for seven more Oscars. Learn more from the official Oscar Web site).
  • Day-Lewis lives in relative seclusion in Luggala, Ireland with his wife, Rebecca Miller. In a recent New York Times Magazine profile, Day-Lewis discusses his private life, inspirations, upbringing, and penchant for playing Americans.

A Young Day-Lewis Shows Promise

Day-Lewis Q&A

Inspired by the 1927 book “The Gangs of New York” by Herbert Asbury, Scorsese and Day-Lewis were determined to understand and relate to the warring groups that inhabited the slum of Five Points—an area that even Charles Dickens, a seasoned witness to poverty, was shocked upon seeing.
Day-Lewis refers to his reluctance to accept too many roles, but calls Scorsese “hard to resist,” and says that accepting a role means “becoming an ally” of a filmmaker, creating a “core group” around him that “help see the film through.” Once Day-Lewis signed on to the film, there was no turning back. It’s this marriage of ambition and artistry that seems to make Day-Lewis’s performances so compelling.
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