Forget Jared Leto, Daniel Day-Lewis Is The Most Insane Method Actor In Hollywood

List Rules
Vote up the most intense role-preparation stories from Daniel Day-Lewis's career.

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.

  • 1
    38 VOTES

    He Gave Himself Prison Tattoos For 'The Boxer'

    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.

    38 votes
  • 2
    57 VOTES

    He Lived Like A 17th Century Salem Villager For 'The Crucible'

    Daniel Day-Lewis's portrayal of John Proctor in The Crucible is one of his less-discussed roles, but it is, nonetheless, one of his finest. To accurately depict a 17th century Salem villager, Day-Lewis lived on the set for the whole movie. He also built his character's house from the ground up and lived with no electricity or running water. And, most insanely, the actor bathed like a villager would have. Which is to say, that he did not bathe at all, not once.

    57 votes
  • 3
    60 VOTES

    He Made Everyone Call Him Mr. President While Filming 'Lincoln'

    Daniel Day-Lewis remains in character during production for all of his movies. He speaks, moves, eats, breathes, and lives as his character, regardless of how long a film might take to shoot. In Lincoln, for example, Day-Lewis remained totally in character for three months without breaking once. "You could only address him as Mr. President," costar Lukas Haas said. "Even Spielberg had to."

    60 votes
  • 4
    52 VOTES

    He Wanted To Be Abused During Filming Of 'In The Name Of The Father'

    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.

    52 votes
  • 5
    51 VOTES

    He Learned How To Design Clothing For 'Phantom Thread'

    In Phantom Thread, Daniel Day-Lewis portrays Reynolds Woodcock, the most celebrated fashion designer in postwar London. The actor brought his usual razor-sharp focus to even the smallest details. He even learned how to design clothing, from making initial sketches and layouts to cutting, draping, and sewing. The virtuoso also recreated a Balenciaga dress by himself. Day-Lewis's sketches appear throughout the film.

    51 votes
  • 6
    63 VOTES

    He Lived Off Of The Land For Six Months In Preparation For 'The Last Of The Mohicans'

    Daniel Day-Lewis played legendary 18th century American survivalist Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans. The actor approached the role with his unique dedication. He lived off the land for an astounding six months. During that time, Day-Lewis built his own canoes, learned to use a tomahawk, tracked, hunted, and skinned animals for food, and brought a 12 pound flintlock wherever he went, even to Christmas dinner.

    In describing his character and preparations, Day-Lewis told The New York Times, "I liked the idea of a man who had not been touched by 20th century neurosis. A life that isn't drawn inwards."

    63 votes