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Daniel Day-Lewis (1957)

Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis

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  Summary  

Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is an English actor with both British and Irish citizenship. His portrayals of Christy Brown in My Left Foot and Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood won Academy and BAFTA Awards for Best Actor, and Screen Actors Guild as well as Golden Globe Awards for the latter. His role as Bill "The Butcher" Cutting in Gangs of New York earned him the BAFTA Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

Day-Lewis, who grew up in London, is the son of actress Jill Balcon and the Anglo-Irish Poet Laureate, Cecil Day-Lewis. Despite his classical British acting school training at the Bristol Old Vic, he is a method actor, known for his constant devotion to and research of his roles. Often, he will remain completely in character for the duration of the shooting schedule of his films, even to the point of adversely affecting his health. He is known as one of the most selective actors in the film industry, having starred in only five films since 1997, with as many as five years between roles.

  Biography  

 early life
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 immigrated to Britain from Lithuania and Poland. His maternal grandfather, Sir Michael Balcon, was the head of Ealing Studios. Two years after his birth, the family moved to Croom's Hill, Greenwich, where Day-Lewis grew up along with his older sister, Tamasin Day-Lewis, who became a documentary filmmaker and television chef.

Living in middle-class Greenwich, Day-Lewis found himself among tough South London kids, 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, 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 vandalize 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 onstage at the National Youth Theatre, he decided to become a cabinet-maker, applying for a five-year apprenticeship. However, due to lack of experience, he was not accepted. He then applied 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, opposite whom he would later play in In the Name of the Father.

 career
 1980s
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 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.

Next he played a gay man in an interracial relationship in the film My Beautiful Laundrette. Day-Lewis gained further public notice with A Room with a View , in which 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 Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, co-starring Lena Olin and Juliette Binoche, as a Czech surgeon whose hyperactive and purely physical 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. Daniel 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. GOOD SAMARITANS - MEMOIR OF A BIOGRAPHER, ANTHONY J. JORDAN WESTPORT BOOKS 2008.P. 40 ISBN 9780952444756 During filming, his eccentricities came to the fore, due to his refusal to break character. Playing a severely paralyzed 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. He broke two ribs during filming from assuming a hunched-over position in his wheelchair for so many weeks.

Day-Lewis returned to the stage in 1989 to work with Richard Eyre, in Hamlet at the National Theatre, 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 Ian Charleson before a then-unknown Jeremy Northam finished what little was left of the production's run. 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.

 1990s
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 a film version of The Crucible, the play by Arthur Miller, again opposite Winona Ryder. Daniel met his wife, Rebecca Miller, while filming "The Crucible". 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."

 2000s
After a five-year absence from filming, Day-Lewis returned to act in multiple Academy Award-nominated films such as Gangs of New York, a film directed by Martin Scorsese and produced by Harvey Weinstein. In his role as the villain gang leader "Bill the Butcher", he starred along with Leonardo DiCaprio, who played Bill's young protegé. 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.

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 raised 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 - Motion Picture (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

In November 2010, it was announced that Day-Lewis was cast to play Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's upcoming biographical 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, and is scheduled for release in late 2012.

 personal life
Day-Lewis rarely talks publicly about 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 Day-Lewis was born in 1995 in New York, several months after the relationship between the two actors had ended. Gabriel now lives with him in New York, attending Elisabeth Irwin High School.

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 and Cashel Blake Day-Lewis and divide their time between their homes in the U.S. and Ireland. Day-Lewis currently holds dual British and Irish citizenship, He became an Irish citizen in 1993. He is a supporter of Millwall Football Club. On 15 July 2010, he received an honorary doctorate in letters from the University of Bristol, in part because of his attendance at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in his youth. Day-Lewis is an agnostic.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Daniel Day-Lewis", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.