Farewell: Daniel Day-Lewis

Last week, Daniel Day-Lewis announced his retirement from acting. He’s got one final role to unleash on the world, an untitled Paul Thomas Anderson film in which he plays fashion designer Charles James, which comes out around Christmas. And then he’s done.

But is he DONE done? Or is he retiring like Michael Jordan retired from basketball? Or Jay-Z retired from rap? Day-Lewis is at the top of his game, where, in fairness, he has been for the past 30 years or so. It just seems to me that people who are both very good at\very passionate about what they do don’t retire, they keep doing the thing they love until they physically cannot do it anymore.

And it’s not like we would have noticed Day-Lewis’s absence had he simply taken a Lew_main_1661547asabbatical. The man is notoriously reclusive and generally does only about one film every five years or so. After winning an Oscar for Lincoln in 2012 (which was the last time we’ve seen him on screen), he announced a hiatus during which he’d spend time on his farm in Dublin, learning “rural skills” like stonemasonry. You know, practical stuff. Between 1997’s The Boxer and 2002’s Gangs of New York, he left Hollywood to apprentice as a shoemaker in Italy. He’s obviously a curious man willing to try his hand at all kinds of pursuits. But quit acting?

Whether or not he eventually comes out of retirement for “one last role” I can’t help but feel this is the end of an era. DDL is the kind of actor who used those fallow periods to truly transform himself into his next character. When he did Lincoln, he stayed in character for 3 solid months; even Spielberg had to address him as Mr. President. To crawl so deeply beneath someone else’s skin must be quite draining and it’s no wonder that he’s needed such lengthy recovery times between films. But Hollywood has gotten away from this kind of acting, the total-immersion kind. Now people play versions of themselves. George Clooney, say, or Ryan Gosling: both very good actors, but if you think about it, they play versions of their charming, winking selves. Have we ever seen Clooney lose himself in a role, or even just play against type? Day-Lewis’s commitment to diving into a role completely is impressing, but is also probably a dying art. He’s only 60 but perhaps he is already a dinosaur in the industry. A super talented dinosaur who will be sadly missed.

 

What’s your favourite DDL role?

How long before he comes out of retirement?

 

Advertisements

29 thoughts on “Farewell: Daniel Day-Lewis

    1. EclecticMusicLover

      I’m surprised you found “Lincoln” boring. While the film and his performance are both understated, the film addressed an important time in American history, and Daniel Day-Lewis captured the essence of the 16th U.S. President as it was thought to be by many historians.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Paul. Writer and Filmmaker

        Yes, the significance of the period in US history was not lost on me. But the political drama of getting the necessary votes to achieve his goal did not grab me as a story. Also, the outcome was known before hand thus there was little drama in the resulting narrative. Plus, the reverence for the character was assumed and not built from the start so on the two occasions I watched the first half hour I just was not drawn in.

        Obviously this is a great film with fine performances which I do not like. Just my opinion. I mean, I love Spielberg’s work mainly just not this one.

        Like

  1. Carrie Rubin

    My favorite of his is an older one called ‘My Left Foot.’ (I think that’s the title.)

    It seems a lot of celebrities say they’re going to retire and then, hello, they’re out there again. I’ll believe it when I see it. Or don’t see it (him), in this case.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. ninvoid99

    If he’s going out, at least go out in style. There Will Be Blood is my favorite performance from him so far… I’m glad he’s stopping the whole method acting thing because method acting is stupid now. Thanks a lot Jared Leto.

    Like

    Reply
  3. Christopher

    Even though they came out four years apart I saw My Left Foot and A Room With A View at about the same time. Well, not simultaneously, but within the same month, and it struck me that I didn’t recognize Day-Lewis as the same actor in both films. I felt the same way seeing him not long after that in Last Of The Mohicans.
    Granted he was playing very different roles, characters who looked distinctly different, but some actors, even really good ones, can play vastly different parts and still be recognizable. I didn’t believe it was the same person in all three roles.
    My favorite, though, is not a role but rather the story told by comedian Paul F. Thompkins about what it was like to work with Daniel Day-Lewis. He said, “Now I had been told that Daniel Day Lewis was kind of an intense person, and he’s really not. He’s THE MOST INTENSE PERSON THAT HAS EVER EXISTED ON THE PLANET OF EARTH.”

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. EclecticMusicLover

      Clooney also immersed himself in “Syriana,” gaining a fair amount of weight for the role.

      At any rate, my favorite DDL films are “My Beautiful Laundrette,” “My Left Foot,” and “Lincoln.” I’m not a fan of violent films, so did not care as much for him in – gasp – “Gangs of New York” or “No Country For Old Men.”

      Like

      Reply
  4. Birgit

    Fred Astaire said he would retire, Gene Kelly also etc… They all say this and something draws them back…usually a good role…or money. In Day Lewis’s case, it would be a role besides if he doesn’t come back, I am just afraid I will have to go meet him, sleep with him, drug him and have him end up in front of a lens with the director being someone he respects too much to say no. In case he tries to leave, I would just have to sleep with him again..um… to drug him of course:)

    Like

    Reply
  5. dbmoviesblog

    Don’t see any point of an official announcement other than to draw attention to one’s persona…many actors just take a years’ long “vacation” or something. 60 is a joke. Michael Caine is 84, and is toiling away despite serious health problems.
    On another note, I noticed that if you take the majority of actors/actresses born in November/late October, they usually play themselves: DiCaprio, Gosling, Hathaway, Roberts…the list is endless 🙂 I always put Clooney mentally in his “old-friends” pack with Damon and Affleck – these are the actors who I will never view seriously no matter how many Oscars they win, etc.

    Like

    Reply
  6. Dell on Movies (@w_ott3)

    Like you, I’m not sure he’s really done, but we’ll see. If so, he’s left us a wonderful body of work. He is phenomenal in everything, but his work in Gangs of New York and There Will Be Blood are my favorites. That said, what he did in Lincoln was ridiculous. He really was Abraham Lincoln.

    Like

    Reply
  7. J.

    I’m thinking retired means retired for him? Seems to have an integrity and drive that would see him do something else. Maybe.

    My favourite role was Daniel Plainview in Let There Be Blood. Intense. Visceral. Bullish. One of the best performances by anyone ever. Fact.

    Like

    Reply
  8. erichmichaels

    I really like My left foot, There will be blood and Last of the Mohicans. The last one in particular, as they did casting from a local reservation and my uncle got to be an extra! DDL really is phenomenal and will be missed, if true.

    Like

    Reply
  9. Anna (Film Grimoire)

    When I think of DDL, I always think of In the Name of the Father. It’s a fantastic film. There Will Be Blood is a close second. But I do wonder whether the retirement is permanent! He’s just too good to be gone forever.

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s