Daniel Day Lewis as LincolnI took another look at Lincoln with Daniel Day Lewis recently. He was so good (he received his third Oscar for Best Actor) I wanted to savour his acting skills a second time round.
Roger Ebert called him the best actor of his generation, bar none. Sir John Guilguld said of him: "He has what every American actor wishes for: talent; and what every British actor wishes for: looks." He is considered by many to be the British Robert de Niro, but to me that is not an apt comparison. I like de Niro (especially the earlier years) but DDL to my mind is far superior.
A method actor extraordinaire he is well known for his total immersion into a character. For the role of Christy Brown (his first Oscar win) in My Left Foot he learned about his paralyzed character by taking up residence in a wheelchair, even off-camera,requiring the crew to move him around.
For the role of one of the most memorable and heinous of villains, Bill the Butcher from Gangs of New York, he rarely got out of character and took actual lessons as an apprentice butcher. He could even be seen sharpening his knives at lunch. Yikes!
My Left FootDuring The Last of the Mohicans (1992) he built a canoe, learned to track and skin animals, and perfected the use of a 12-pound flintlock gun, which he took everywhere he went, including a Christmas dinner.
For the eight month shoot for Unbearable Lightness of Being, he learned to speak Czech.
In preparing for his role in The Boxer, he sparred a total of 350 rounds, acquiring a broken nose in the process. The consultant for the fight scenes was alarmed and told him, "Daniel, it doesn't have to be this tough." DDL replied "I want to understand what a fighter goes through. I want to in some way simulate what it has to be like." Along with the amazing boxing scenes watch for the scene where he is jumping rope.
Gangs of New York
He was repeatedly offered the role of Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and repeatedly turned it down. Much as I love Viggo Mortenson in the role I would have loved to see DDL's perspective.
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. So if this whole acting thing doesn't work out for him, he's got a fall back career. But being the only person to ever win three Oscars for Best Actor I think his career is safe.
Watch him also in There will be Blood, his second Best Acting Oscar and a truly amazing performance. My Beautiful Laundrette, The Name of the Father, The Crucible are three more worth seeing. Well, actually everything he does is worth seeing.
There Will Be BloodThe Boxer