10 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About Daniel Day-Lewis

March 5, 2014

Daniel Day-Lewis is hard to miss in great movies like Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York”, P.T. Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood”, and Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln”, but he wasn’t always sure that he wanted to be an actor.

Fortunately for movie lovers, he is now famous worldwide for being the first ever actor to receive three Academy Awards for Best Actor. But there’s still a lot you may not know about the talented British star. Here are ten things that may surprise you about Daniel Day-Lewis.

1. Comes from an arts family


He is the son of Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis and actress Jill Balcon, and is now married to Rebecca Miller, the daughter of American playwright Arthur Miller. He first met his future wife during preparations for a film version of Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible.”

2. Turned down a part in “Philadelphia”


Day-Lewis was Jonathan Demme’s first choice to play the part of Andrew Becket in “Philadelphia” (1993), but he turned down the role to work on “In the Name of the Father” (1993) and Tom Hanks stepped in. Ironically, Day-Lewis was nominated for best actor for “In the Name of the Father”, but Tom Hanks won the best Oscar actor for his role in “Philadelphia”.

3. He brings dedication to a higher level


While playing Bill the Butcher in “Gangs of New York” (2002), Day-Lewis refused to wear a warmer coat instead of his character’s threadbare one, even when he caught pneumonia. In the end, doctors forced him to take antibiotics for the illness.

4. Preparing for a role has a new meaning


After training for around 18 months with ex-champ Barry McGuigan for the role of Danny Flynn in the Boxer (1997), McGuigan said he could have turned pro by the time filming began.

5. Moved to Italy


After filming “The Boxer” in 1997, Day-Lewis moved to Florence in Italy to become an apprentice to a shoemaker – master cobbler Stefano Berner. In a later interview, he said he was “very happily out of the world of filmmaking.”

6. Tried out for the lead role in “Pulp Fiction”


Michael Madsen was originally considered for the role of Vincent Vega in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” (1994), but was unavailable for the part. Day-Lewis actually tried to land the iconic role, but as we all now know, John Travolta was given the part.

7. Passion for film at its finest


In Michael Mann’s “The Last of the Mohicans” (1992), Day-Lewis spent days in the Alabama wilderness learning how to track, hunt, and skin animals. He also built a canoe, and didn’t go anywhere without his 12-pound flintlock rifle.

8. Engages completely in any role given


During the filming of “My Left Foot” (1989), Day-Lewis insisted on being pushed around in the wheelchair, and he actually injured his ribs due to the time he spent hunched over in his seat.

9. Devotion. Period.


In Jim Sheridan’s film “In the Name of the Father” (1993), Day-Lewis spent nights alone in a prison cell and lived on prison rations, losing 30 pounds in the process. To prepare for the role of Gerry Conlon, who was wrongly convicted of the Guildford pub bombing, real policemen were also brought in to interrogate him for extended periods.

10. Speaks Czech


In “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” (1988), based on Milan Kundera’s novel set in Prague, Day-Lewis learned Czech to play the brain surgeon Tomas, in order to speak in English with a Czech accent.

Whatever you think of Daniel Day-Lewis, you can’t deny his devotion to his craft. He still has many years to surprise us with more unconventional screen characters. Could he be the first to win the Oscar for Best Actor for a fourth time?

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