In a shocking announcement this month, Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis surprised Hollywood, London, and the entire entertainment world when he revealed that he is retiring from acting and would make no more films. He does have one final film, Paul Thomas Anderson‘s “Phantom Thread,” in the can and due to be released at Christmas.
One of the most respected actors of his generation, Day-Lewis is the only man who has won three Oscars for Best Actor. Those victories were for “My Left Foot” (1989), “There Will Be Blood” (2007), and “Lincoln” (2012). In addition, he has won two Best Actor awards each from the Screen Actors Guild and the Golden Globes.
Most importantly (if retirement actually happens), he will have left behind a remarkable legacy of screen performances, which will be difficult to replicate by any actor. Let’s look back at the wildly diverse collection of characters that Day-Lewis has brought to the screen. Tour through our attached photo gallery to revisit our featured 10 movies, including the three that brought him Academy Awards:
MY LEFT FOOT (1989)
Director: Jim Sheridan.
Writers: Sheridan, Shane Connaughton.
Starring Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, Ray McAnally.
Day-Lewis won his first of three Best Actor Academy Awards for his portrayal of Cristy Brown, the Irish writer and painter who could neither walk nor talk due to the effects of cerebral palsy. Day-Lewis’ enormous acting challenge as Cristy was far more physical than most actors would have the skills to realize, as he must, by body positioning, convince us that much of his body is useless, communicating solely by the use of his facial expressions and the writing skills he has developed through the use of his left foot. His was a deserved Oscar win that no one can question.
THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2007)
Writer/Director: Paul Thomas Anderson.
Starring Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciarán Hinds.
Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood” brought Day-Lewis his second Academy Award (as well as his first Golden Globe and first SAG Award). Day-Lewis portrays Daniel Plainview, a silver prospector who in 1902 discovers oil near Los Angeles. Plainview establishes a small drilling company there and begins a life devoted to power, leverage and, most of all, money. On paper, Plainview would appear to be an out-and-out villain, but what Day-Lewis brings to the table is an ability to suggest that there’s much more to this character than just what we see, and he manages to keep us hooked on that possibility throughout the entire film.
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Writer: Tony Kushner.
Starring Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones.
For his performance as Abraham Lincoln, Day-Lewis won the Best Actor Oscar, as well as a Golden Globe and the SAG Award. Day-Lewis’ Lincoln is an unexpected creation, far from The Great Man orator that has become the Lincoln cliché . He has chosen to give Lincoln a surprisingly high-pitched voice and present him as a thoughtful leader, passionate about keeping the Union together and getting the 13th Amendment (abolishing slavery) passed. Under Spielberg’s direction and Kushner’s script, never has amending the Constitution been more suspenseful.