“There are two kinds of actors in the world: – Daniel Day-Lewis and the rest” – a quote which became a routine after he claimed his 3rd Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. It’s an Oscar feat, which no other actor has accomplished till date (one actress has, though). Hence, statistically speaking, yes, Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest actor of all time. But this article is not about his acting skills; it is about some of the interesting facts you may not know.
1. His first movie role was 1982 film ‘Gandhi’, which was based on Mahatma Gandhi and went on to win Best Picture.
2. Day-Lewis was taking time off to work as a cobbler in Florence, Italy when Weinstein, director Martin Scorsese and star Leonardo DiCaprio lured him into coming back to New York “on false pretenses” so they could persuade him to accept lead role in Gangs of New York (2002).
3. He has several times offered and turned down the role of Aragorn (Strider) in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
4. He got sick during shooting in Italy, refusing to trade his character’s threadbare coat for a warmer coat because the warmer coat did not exist in the 19th century; doctors finally forced him to take antibiotics.
5. He was Jonathan Demme’s first choice for the part of Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia (1993). He turned the part down to work on In the Name of the Father (1993) and Tom Hanks was cast in Philadelphia (1993) instead. He earned an Oscar nomination for best actor in In the Name of the Father (1993), but Hanks won the Best Actor Oscar for Philadelphia (1993).
6. Always quiet and introverted, he has said that he was not popular in school and was mocked as an outsider while growing up in England, partially because he was of half-Jewish/half-Irish stock. The upside was that, instead of socializing, he developed a rich fantasy life that later helped him to delve so deeply into his characters.
7. He was the first of three consecutive British actors to win the Oscar for Best Actor in a leading role, Jeremy Irons being next and Anthony Hopkins the third. Each of them coincidentally won at their first nomination in the Academy Awards.
8. After Michael Madsen was found to be unavailable for the part, Day-Lewis tried to get the role of Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction (1994), one of the few times he actively pursued a part. However, by that point in the casting, Quentin Tarantino had John Travolta in mind for the part.
9. During The Last of the Mohicans (1992) he built a canoe, learned to track and skin animals, and perfected the use of a 12-pound flintlock gun, which he took everywhere he went, even to a Christmas dinner.
10. His father was of Northern Irish and English descent. His mother was from a Jewish family that emigrated to the U.K. from Poland and Latvia.
11. He first became interested in acting when he learned to replicate the accent and mannerisms of people in his neighborhood to avoid standing out to bullies.
12. As of 2016, he has appeared in seven films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Gandhi (1982), A Room with a View (1985), My Left Foot (1989), In the Name of the Father (1993), Gangs of New York (2002), There Will Be Blood (2007) and Lincoln (2012). Gandhi (1982) won in the category.