A History of Daniel Day-Lewis’ Insane Method Acting

D-Lewz (his rapper name) is one of the best actors working today—and now I can see why. From Imgur:

Last of the Mohicans (1992)

To prepare for his role in Last of the Mohicans, D-Lewz (his rapper name) taught himself how to live as a survivalist and learned how to hunt animals for food. He refused to eat anything that he hadn’t killed, whether it was with his trusty flintlock rifle, or a tomahawk both of which he could use very accurately. He might have even karate chopped a couple of geese for dinner, you never know with this guy. D-Lewz also learned how to build a canoe, because if you don’t know how to build a canoe, you don’t know shit.

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Lincoln (2012)

Demanded that everyone, including Spielberg, would refer to him as “Mr. President” and wouldn’t let English cast members speak to him (in their own accents) while trying to get Abe’s voice right, for fear that it might throw him off.

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My Left Foot (1989)

A pretty well known example of Day-Lewis’ method acting. While playing the paralyzed poet Christy Brown, he refused to leave his wheelchair and had (pissed off) crew members carry him around the set. He also insisted that all of his meals would be spoon-fed to him.

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The Age of Innocence (1993)

While preparing for his role as an 1870s gentleman in The Age of Innocence, he checked into the Plaza Hotel in New York under his character’s name and walked around New York in period clothing. A top hat, a cane, the whole shebang.

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The Boxer (1997)

Trained for 1½ years to be a professional-standard boxer with former heavyweight champion Barry McCuigan. Worked out all day every day to become ripped as a mofo. He also crudely tattooed his own hands, because that’s a thing, apparently.

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The Crucible (1996)

Didn’t wash himself for the duration of the shoot so he could see what living in 17th century hygiene standards was like, because yeah it matters. Also BUILT THE FUCKING HOUSE that his character lived in in the movie and helped build the set. Day-Lewis also spent some time living in one of the replica houses on set with no electricity or running water.

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There Will Be Blood (2007)

His supporting actor in this film was supposed to be Kel O’Neill, but O’Neill left because Day-Lewis was too god damn intense. Day-Lewis also learned how to use real oil mining gear for the role, and threw real bowling balls at his co-star Paul Dano in one of the scenes. A pretty ballsy move in my book.

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)

Learned the beautiful Czech language for the role of Tomas and refused to break character for nearly the entire 8-month shoot.

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The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005)

Daniel Day-Lewis’ wife kindly offered him the leading role in a film she was directing, and Day-Lewis repaid her by arranging to live separately from her so he could properly experience the isolation of his character.

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Gangs of New York (2002)

For his role as Bill the Butcher, Day-Lewis took up lessons as an apprentice butcher and always stayed in character on-set. This included talking in a New York accent and sharpening knives between takes. Because he was so into the role, he refused to wear a warm jacket because according to him, it wasn’t in keeping with the period. And surprise, surprise, he caught pneumonia! He also rejected modern medicine when it was offered to him to help with his illness.

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In The Name of the Father (1993)

To accurately portray a wrongly convicted prisoner, Day-Lewis spent several nights at a time chilling in solitary confinement in the abandoned prison they were filming in. He even kept himself awake for three days in preparation for an interrogation scene in the film. He also reportedly had crew members randomly throw water on him and verbally abuse him for a realistic IRA prisoner experience.

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