Method acting allows performers to delve deeply into the minds of certain characters. They abandon their own personalties and preferences and truly become the personas they've been cast to play. This technique is fairly popular, but actor Daniel Day-Lewis takes method acting a step further. Generally regarded as one of the greatest actors of all time, Day-Lewis is as famous for his role preparation as he is for his mind-blowing performances.
Several actors and filmmakers have discussed what it's like to work with Day-Lewis. Their accounts suggest that he's obsessively dedicated to his craft and determined to make his characters tangible. To put it simply, Day-Lewis can be intense; the guy is committed. Even if his level of focus is somewhat intimidating, he's clearly devoted to and passionate about his craft.
There Will Be Blood is an intense movie. And that's probably why Daniel Day-Lewis's characterization is so perfect. In total dedication to his merciless character, Daniel Plainview, Day-Lewis really beat up a costar for the cameras. He and Paul Dano played adversaries in the film, and when they came to blows, the formidable method actor didn't hold back. Day-Lewis noted:
"I got slapped in the face for every take. And that first slap always provided me with a good amount of inspiration. But then, after a couple of takes, someone saw the mud and added that into the equation. And sure enough, before long I’m getting slapped and dragged by the hair, and having Daniel stuff handfuls of mud into my mouth. It’s tough in the moment, but when you look back on it, it’s actually sort of fun."
Daniel Day-Lewis portrayed Irishman Gerry Conlon during In the Name of the Father. Day-Lewis's character is wrongly convicted of a terrorist bombing. So to prepare for the role, the actor followed his usual intense methods. He lived in a prison cell for a period of time with neither food nor water, and he lost 50 pounds for the role. Day-Lewis also insisted that crew members abuse him. He asked to be verbally assaulted and drenched in water.
Daniel Day-Lewis's performance in The Boxer is, unsurprisingly, flawless. He meticulously researched what life might be like for a formerly incarcerated Irish boxer. Since lots of fellas in the pokey have an affinity for self-administered tattoos, Day-Lewis decided to give himself one. An interviewer noticed a "strange thing" on the actor's hand during an interview and asked him about it. The star shared:
"Oh, that's a tattoo. Homemade. I gave myself this one for The Boxer, actually. A lot of guys in jail tattoo their hands. I meant it to be more f**ked up than that."
When the reporter asked if it hurt, Day-Lewis replied, "Erm... not like other things." One can only image what other things the actor might have done.
Daniel Day-Lewis's dedication during There Will Be Blood had a few negative consequences. He reportedly caused another actor to quit the film entirely. A reporter said that actor Kel O'Neill quit and subsequently had to be replaced. Paul Dano took O'Neil's place and had a dual role. Lynn Hirschberg said that "the first actor suffered from intimidation [by Day-Lewis]," but of course our fave method actor denied all allegations.