Daniel Day-Lewis, a name which is synonymous with Perfection-in-Method-Acting, has finally put an end to the chapter which started almost 35 years ago. After years of service, and what a service it has been, Daniel Day-Lewis has finally said goodbye to Hollywood. Well, I’m not writing a tribute because I believe that no tribute can do justice to the contribution that Daniel Day-Lewis made in last three decades. I’m just trying to give an account of what Daniel Day-Lewis has given to the Cinema and what he went through for fulfilling his duty of being an actor.
Daniel Day-Lewis started his journey in early 1980s and most of his work in the initial stages was for Television and Theater. In 1984, he appeared in a movie named The Bounty and did two to three more roles before finally getting the recognition through his performance in the movie, A Room with a View. In 1988, he first played a leading role in a movie and the very next year he portrayed Christy Brown in the movie, My Left Foot and this earned him first of his three Academy Awards. After his impeccable performance in My Left Foot, Daniel Day Lewis went on to playing roles in the movies such as The Last of Mohicans, In the Name of Father and The Boxer and won further acclaim for his perfection in doing these characters. He even won another Oscars nomination for the movie, In the Name of Father. With the completion of The Boxer in 1997, he started a new phase which was even better than the previous one. From 1997 to 2017, Daniel Day-Lewis only did 7 movies, out of the 7 characters he played, he was nominated for the Academy Award 4 times and ended up going home with two more Oscars. His unmarred performance in There Will be Blood and his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln made him the only actor to win three Oscars in a leading role. His last movie, Phantom Thread, saw him getting another Oscars nomination and the Oscars ceremony last night proved to be the last active participation of Daniel Day-Lewis in Hollywood. It has been a stellar career of more than 3 decades and it finally met in an almost perfect manner. It was a perfect goodbye and if going out on high has a practical example than that of Daniel Day-Lewis is the best one.
Daniel Day-Lewis gave new dimensions to method-acting and made method-acting his fortress. Although there were many great method-actors even before DDL yet he explored new horizons of that particular style of acting. His devotion and research for playing the characters and his ability to somehow imitate the real life characters with perfection was something that was not present before DDL. One can argue that Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro and even Al Pacino, all were great method-actors. Well, it is an established fact and it cannot be denied. But with all due respect, DDL approach towards his most acclaimed roles was quite different and ‘better’ than all of them. For instance, DDL did an herculean amount of work before playing Abraham Lincoln. He read a number of books, change the tone of his voice, even did physical transformation for putting a performance that was unprecedented.
For his first Oscars winning role of Christy Brown, a boy born with cerebral palsy who ended up becoming painter, author and poet, DDL did not keep himself from pulling all the strings. He dominated his character in a way that it seemed that Daniel Day-Lewis was born Christy Brown. In addition to that, the way he shifted between entirely different roles and played a diverse range of roles were the specialties of acting that were no so common before him. Again, one could argue to that point, citing examples of De Niro and Al Pacino, but I believe that the shift from playing a gangster in the Gangs of New York and an industrialist in There Will Be Blood cannot be matched, even by the very likes of De Niro and Al Pacino. (I’m one of the biggest fan of De Niro and Al Pacino) Now comes my favorite role of DDL, Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, I believe even the starting scene of the movie and DDL’s perfection in the execution is sufficient for getting an idea of DDL acting-greatness, the way he carried with himself the role of a fortunate businessman and his hatred of religion. Well, overall the movie was a great amalgamation of religion, hatred and business but still if it was not for DDL, the movie would not win such acclaim and admiration.
Well, it will go on but Daniel Day-Lewis’ contribution to the cinema cannot be summarized. In short, Daniel Day-Lewis’ journey finally reached its end after several classic performances, 6 Academy Awards nominations and 3 Oscars. His 6th Oscar nomination for his last role proved to be an icing on the cake and it was a perfect goodbye from Daniel Day-Lewis.