There’s a pretty great little article over at Yahoo looking into the folklore and legends of the lengths Daniel Day-Lewis goes to for his craft. The fact Daniel Day-Lewis is a method actor is no secret, just as much as we all know he remained in character for Lincoln, sent Sally Field a text message as Honest Abe and asked English cast members not to speak with him in their British accent so as not to throw him off. Well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Along with throwing actual bowling balls at Paul Dano while filming There Will be Blood, learning to build a canoe for The Last of the Mohicans and becoming a butcher for Gangs of New York, here are ten facts taken from Yahoo’s article about Day-Lewis’ preparation. After you read them you tell me… Would you go to the same lengths as him if you knew it would give you the opportunity to be considered one of the greatest actors of all-time and a third Oscar was likely coming your way?
- …learned to speak Czech for his role in The Unbearable Lightness of Being
- …had to be lifted around the set as he would never leave his wheelchair and insisted his meals be spoon-fed to him during My Left Foot
- …would only eat food he killed during Last of the Mohicans. He, of course, learned how to track, hunt and skin the animals.
- …walked around New York City wearing a top hat and cane for two months while preparing for The Age of Innocence
- …spent nights locked in solitary confinement in the abandoned prison where they filmed In the Name of the Father
- …didn’t bathe for the entirety of shooting The Crucible to get the feeling of what it was to live by 17th century standards
- …spent 18 months training to be a boxer for The Boxer
- …caught pneumonia while making Gangs of New York because he refused to wear a toasty modern coat because it wasn’t in keeping with the period.
- …moved out of his house and arranged to live separately from his wife (and director and co-star) in order to experience the isolation of his character’s life in an island commune in preparation for The Ballad Of Jack And Rose.
- …scared off Kel O’Neill from There Will be Blood after O’Neill claimed “Day-Lewis’ character Plainview was just too intense for him to work alongside day after day.” Paul Dano replaced him.