Other than his immense talent, Daniel Day-Lewis is best known for two things: his intense devotion to Method acting and being notoriously selective when it comes to choosing roles. The revered thespian has only appeared in six movies since 2000, winning Oscars for two of them; earlier this year he announced tjat his next performance, in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread,” will be his last.
Day-Lewis was just 14 years old in his first movie role, an uncredited appearance in John Schlesinger’s drama. Despite its title, it has nothing to do with that other Bloody Sunday (which took place a year later).
11 years later, he had another small role — this time in the movie that won Ben Kingsley an Academy Award for playing the Mahātmā.
Day-Lewis’ next role wasn’t as a leading man, either — Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins, and Laurene Olivier take top billing here — but this account of mutiny on the HMS Bounty gave him his most time on the silver screen yet. At the same time, he was appearing on the telly in BBC productions.
Day-Lewis came to new levels of attention in Stephen Frears’ London-set drama, an early release from Working Title. He plays a street punk who reunites with a Pakistani friend whose uncle owns a laundrette; their bond eventually becomes more than platonic, and shows the difficulties of mixing business with pleasure.
DDL got in on the Merchant-Ivory craze that swept both sides of the pond throughout the 1980s and early ’90s, here appearing in an adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic novel. He shared the screen with Helena Bonham Carter, Julian Sands, Maggie Smith, and Judi Dench, among others.
Day-Lewis earned raves alongsie Juliette Binoche in Philip Kaufman’s adaptation of the masterful novel by Milan Kundera, a passionate romance set against the 1968 Prague Spring.
Conny Templeman’s drama concerns the young woman of the title, who gets involved with terrorists while on holiday in France (as you do).
Day-Lewis isn’t known for making audiences laugh, but during the ’80s he was a frequent presence in comedies — especially on BBC. Here he plays a British patron of the arts whose attempts to track down a Renoir takes him through a madcap tour of the American South.
It was in Jim Sheridan’s wrenching biography that the Daniel Day-Lewis we now know truly arrived, playing an Irishman whose cerebral palsy left him entirely immobile save for his left foot. Christy Brown went on to be a renowned painter and writer, an arduous process that Day-Lewis portrays with beauty and pain. For his efforts, he won his first Academy Award for Best Actor.
Daniel Day-Lewis as a traveling dentist whose duties take him to Patagonia is a hoot of a premise, so much so that one can only wonder why “Eversmile, New Jersey” isn’t more well known.
DDL is great for all 112 minutes of Michael Mann’s take on this oft-told story, but few moments of his career are as compelling as the film’s closing sequence.
Day-Lewis did something unusual in 1993: starred in two different movies. It’s never happened again in the 24 years since, and not since 1996-’97 has he appeared onscreen in two consecutive years. His first collaboration with Martin Scorsese was this lush adaptation of Edith Warton’s novel, which found the actor opposite Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder.
Speaking of frequent collaborators, Day-Lewis hasn’t worked with anyone as often as Jim Sheridan. His second movie with the “My Left Foot” director is a biopic about Gerry Conlon, who was falsely convicted of two pub bombings carried out by the IRA in 1974 and spent 15 years in prison.
Why did DDL play John Proctor in this adaptation of Arthur Miller’s classic play? Because it is his name! The film reunited him with Winona Ryder.
Day-Lewis’ third and final movie with Sheridan also focused on the IRA. Would you believe me if I told you his character’s greatest fight doesn’t take place inside the ring?
Only twice has Day-Lewis been nominated for an Oscar without winning it. The second time was for his terrifying performance as Bill the Butcher in Scorsese’s period piece, in which he shared the screen with Leonardo DiCaprio.
Day-Lewis mixed the personal and the professional in this romantic drama, which was directed by his wife Rebecca Miller (whom he met while preparing for his role in “The Crucible,” as she belongs to that Miller family).
DDL drank our milkshakes in what’s often pointed to as his best, fiercest performance. Highly quotable despite not saying a single world for more than 15 minutes, Daniel Plainview may be impossible to fully understand — or forget.
The biggest question mark in the famously choosy actor’s recent filmography in this Rob Marshall musical, which was inspired by Federico Fellini’s “8½” but didn’t exactly live up to its legacy. At least Day-Lewis got a Golden Globe nod out of it.
DDL made history with “Lincoln,” becoming the first (and, to date, only) performer to win the Academy Award for Best Actor on three separate occasions. It’s a record that shan’t be broken anytime soon, and a well-earned honor for his masterful turn in Steven Spielberg’s procedural biopic.
Day-Lewis announced his retirement earlier this year. At least he’s going out on a high note. His second collaboration with Paul Thomas Anderson is as rich and textured as we’ve come to expect of him, and made all the better by his co-stars Vicky Kriep and Lesley Manville.