Six actors on what it’s like to work with Daniel Day-Lewis

Published December 22, 2017

IMAGE COURTESY OF FOCUS FEATURES.

 

This month, formidable talent Daniel Day-Lewis takes his final bow in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread before retirement. He shines in the role of a 1950s, London-based fashion designer who starts a tumultuous employer-employee relationship with his fit model, played wonderfully by newcomer Vicky Krieps. December marks the 10th anniversary of Day-Lewis’s other Anderson collab, There Will Be Blood, and the 20th anniversary of The Boxer.

With these three events occurring simultaneously, it’s the perfect time to reflect on his legacy. The breadth of his inspiration is endless and ageless: affecting older, younger, and perhaps even future generations of actors and directors. Whether he is seamlessly slipping into the guise of an artist with cerebral palsy or the 16th president of the United States, Day-Lewis disappears and only his character is left. It is this authenticity and believability that he brings to the roles that keep people asking, “What’s your method?” And yet, his approach to acting remains an enigma.

In Interview’s April 1988 issue, Daniel Day-Lewis made a statement that appropriately fits his upcoming retirement from acting: “When you finish making a film, someone tells you that it’s over; but, you know, what does that mean? It never is.” While Day-Lewis famously shies away from interviews and cherishes his privacy, he still manages to inspire a plethora of artists who have shared their admiration for his acting and provided insight into the legend that is Daniel Day-Lewis.

WHEN ASKED ABOUT HIS FAVORITE ACTORS…

SHIA LABEOUF: My favorite actors come with a myth. I don’t know much about Daniel Day-Lewis. I don’t know much about Joaquin Phoenix. But there’s a mythos that they’ve created, and it’s part of their work.

WHEN ASKED WHO HIS ROLE MODEL IS…

LUKE ARMITAGE: I have a lot of respect for guys who are so committed and so good at what they do and are mysterious, like Daniel Day-Lewis.

WHEN DISCUSSING DAY-LEWIS’S PERSONALITY…

FIONA APPLE: I hate this feeling like I’m name-dropping, but Paul Thomas Anderson [Apple’s ex-boyfriend] told me that two of the funniest people he knows are me and Daniel Day-Lewis. He was like, “You’re both hilarious, but everybody thinks you’re awful.”

WHEN ASKED WHOSE CAREERS SHE ADMIRES…

ISABEL LUCAS: Daniel Day-Lewis and Cate Blanchett, definitely.

WHEN TALKING ABOUT WORKING WITH DAY-LEWIS ON THE BALLAD OF JACK AND ROSE [2005]…

CAMILLA BELLE: It was more inspiring than anything. By watching him and his preparation, I kind of got into that world as well, trying to be the character instead of just acting like her. Daniel even knew how the character would roll a cigarette. He knew how the character sat down, walked, and everything.

WHEN SPEAKING ABOUT A SCENE FROM THE AGE OF INNOCENCE [1993]…

MARTIN SCORSESE: Bottom line is, I was just entranced by Daniel’s face.

 

PHANTOM THREAD IS OUT IN THEATERS DECEMBER 25, 2017.