Top 10 : Daniel Day Lewis
In 1982 a barely recognisable Daniel Day-Lewis landed a small part in Richard Attenborough’s Ghandi. Rumour has it that Day-Lewis approached the Brit director directly about the role, which served as a platform for later projects. In his small scene, Day-Lewis plays a street thug who is chastised by his mother for bullying peaceful religious activist, Ghandi.
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
By 1985 a fresh faced Day-Lewis had hardly scratched the surface of his talents. However, when Stephen Frears cast him as one half of a bi-racial, homosexual couple in My Beautiful Launderette, this all changed. Audiences were introduced to a serious actor, not afraid of sinking his teeth into more obscure roles. The film was released in conjunction with James Ivory’s A Room With a View, also starring Day-Lewis.
Day-Lewis kept cast and crew in the dark to his true identity, by staying in character for the entire duration of filming in Philip Kaufman’s drama. He is said to have learnt Czech for the part and failed to break character at all both on and off set. The film is a cinematic adaptation of the novel by Milan Kundera, about a womanising brain surgeon, who falls in love during Czechoslovakia ‘s liberalisation of the Communist period.
My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989)
In 1989 Day-Lewis’ not-so-hidden flair was finally acknowledged by industry insiders. He won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his work playing cerebral palsy sufferer, Christy Brown in My Left Foot. Based on Brown’s autobiography, the film tells the story of how the Irish author, painter and poet could only control his left foot. Day-Lewis took his method acting to another level, by reportedly breaking two ribs so he could give a credible performance as Christy.
The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
True to form, Day-Lewis kept up an assiduous attitude in Michael Mann’s 1992 drama, The Last Of The Mohicans, by plunging into the wilderness in preparation for the role. To ensure he gave a convincing portrayal of a Native American, Day-Lewis lived in remote surroundings, fishing and hunting as his character Hawkeye/Nathaniel Poe would have done in the 18th Century. The film follows a group of Natives caught in battle between the British and the French, in colonial America.
The Age Of Innocence (1993)
Based on the 1920s novel of the same name by Edith Wharton, The Age Of Innocence is a tale of debauchery and adultery, wrapped up neatly in tight corsets and heavy hair pieces. Day-Lewis was approached by director Martin Scorsese to play Newland Archer, alongside his two leading ladies, co-stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder. Interestingly, Day Lewis’ sister Tamasin makes a cameo appearance in the film as the woman admiring May Welland's (Ryder) engagement ring at the Beauforts' ball.
The Crucible (1996)
Day-Lewis teamed up with Winona Ryder once again to play John Proctor in the 1996 adaptation of Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible. Day-Lewis’ reputation as a method actor reached new heights when filming began on this picture, with the actor reportedly insisting he build the house his character lived in. He is also said to have avoided bathing until filming wrapped, to stay true to his character’s dirty form. The film focuses on the Salem Massachusetts witch trials of 1692, where several women were executed for dabbling in black magic.
The Boxer (1997)
Day-Lewis pulled all the punches to give a realistic performance as boxer Danny Flynn, in The Boxer, training for three years solid in preparation. A Jim Sheridan film, the storyline centres on Flynn as he attempts to regain his life in the ring, after being imprisoned for fourteen years for his involvement with the IRA. Day-Lewis was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, at the Golden Globes, but lost out to Peter Fonda for Ulee's Gold.
Gangs of New York (2002)
As the blood thirsty Bill 'The Butcher' Cutting, Day-Lewis won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Complete with moustache and top hat, Day-Lewis commanded the set in a film packed to the rafters with esteemed actors. Day-Lewis wasn’t initially in the original line up to play The Butcher, with John Belushi formerly cast in the role. However, when Belushi tragically died, there was a re-shuffle with Willem Dafoe pulled in as the replacement. But director Martin Scorsese continued to change his cast, eventually landing on Day-Lewis to play the part.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Day-Lewis’ took home the trophy for his performance as oil miner, Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, winning his second Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. A fan of director Paul Thomas Anderson’s work on Punch Drunk Love, Day-Lewis immediately signed up to play the money hungry, and emotionally inept Plainview in a story about wealth, greed and family ties. Producer JoAnne Sellar told reporters after filming, that the picture wouldn’t have been given the go ahead if Day-Lewis hadn’t agreed to take part.
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