Daniel Day-Lewis may be the most popular actor in Hollywood no one thinks about when they make a list of the most popular actors in Hollywood. When you look at his list of credits, it’s hard to see how he might be missed.
A consummate character actor as well as a potent leading man and fierce foil when playing the bad guy, Day-Lewis earned the respect of his colleagues in a career that earned him three Oscars. In fact, Day-Lewis has won three best actor awards, the only actor to actually achieve this feat.
Trying to remember where you saw him last? He played opposite Mel Gibson in the 1984 take on The Bounty, and Day-Lewis had a star-making role as Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans, and played villains moviegoers loved to hate in 2002’s Gangs of New York and 2007s There Will Be Blood. But the role of his career may well be playing America’s 16th President in the 2012 Spielberg-directed biopic, Lincoln.
It seems like Day-Lewis was poised to see his career really take off, but, just as he finished filming the Paul Thomas Anderson movie, Phantom Thread, the 60-year-old actor says he’s hanging it up on both stage and screen. In a statement sent to the media by his representative, Leslee Dart, Day-Lewis said he is “immensely grateful to all of his collaborators and audiences over the many years” and that the decision to retire is a private one that will not be commented on any further. So, is this the real deal walking away from Hollywood film and New York stages, or is Day-Lewis trying to capture a headline? Who can tell? The Anderson flick doesn’t hit theaters until December, so it’s possible – however unlikely – that this is merely an interesting publicity stunt.
But that doesn’t seem to be the kind of thing most would come to expect from a man many consider to be the finest actor of his time. He inhabits his roles, giving everything, sometimes for years, to get the character just right. He is famous for once saying he doesn’t just try to assemble a character as much as he “grows into” the role.
If Day-Lewis does indeed hang it up, this won’t be the first time he stepped away from acting. There was a period, shortly after his “Mohicans” success, that the actor apprenticed to, of all things, a shoemaker in Italy. Will this retirement be like that one, or will it stick?