Daniel Day Lewis: An Understanding, and an appreciation 

By Christian DiMartinoBack in February, I wrote a 4 star review for Jordan Peele’s Get Out, and announced that I was going to start writing again. Well… I haven’t exactly kept up with my part of the bargain. Not that I haven’t seen any movies- I’ve actually seen quite a few. I just could never bring myself to write anything again. 

But now, something has brought me back. Something has caused me to break my silence. Something has caused me to come out of retirement…

And it’s Daniel Day Lewis’ retirement.

If you’ve been on the internet at all recently, you have heard about this. Daniel Day Lewis, a legend in his own right, and the only actor ever to win 3 Academy Awards for Best Actor, will be retiring after his next film, Phantom Thread, which reunites him with There Will Be Blood director Paul Thomas Anderson. 

Now, before I dive into this, I would first like to mention that I’ve actually smelled Lewis’ retirement around the corner for some time now. In fact, I remember saying after he won his third Oscar for Lincoln that it was probably going to be his last film. I don’t know what possessed me to say such a thing, but I had a feeling, and it felt right. So when he announced that he was going to be in Phantom Thread, for the first time ever, I was wrong. And yet I was tickled, and relieved.

It has not been specified as to why Lewis is retiring, but yet I have an idea, and it is the same idea I had after that Oscar for Lincoln. 

See, if you’ve ever seen DDL in any movie, you’ll know that it’s quite the event. It’s not even because he waits so long to do them (Lincoln, his last film, was five years ago). It’s because if he IS going to be in a movie, he’s going to give it his all. But not only is he giving it his all, he’s giving it his all, and then some. 

DDL is legendary for his transformations, and the way that he disappears into every character. He’s a method actor if there ever was one. I believe that in order to play John Proctor in The Crucible, he didn’t shower during the entire production. In order to channel the rage of Bill “The Butcher” in Gangs of New York, he would listen to Eminem. During the filming of My Left Foot(his masterpiece, if you ask me), he broke two ribs from being hunched over for so long, and stayed in the wheelchair even when the cameras weren’t rolling.

I could go on all day, but I don’t need to. Because those of us who have had the pleasure of seeing DDL in action more than understand his mad genius. I say mad genius because he’s done things for a role that I would never even consider doing. Like that whole shower business. Ew.

And yet I feel like that may be why DDL is throwing in the towel. Mind you, he has to love what he does, otherwise he probably wouldn’t torture himself so. And this is definitely just a guess. There might be some sort of family emergency going on or something. I have no idea. It has been deemed as a “private decision.”

But you have to think: why else would he wait so long to do a project? Why else would he be so selective? I have a guess, and it’s that if he’s going to return, it has to be glorious. But yet it could also be the fact that acting, being the perfectionist he is, takes a lot out of him. 

So yes, I am saddened by this news. I personally think DDL is the greatest actor we have. And I mean, what a track record! I don’t think there’s such a thing as a “bad Daniel Day Lewis movie.” Don’t be absurd. 

Yet I think that if the word is true, and Phantom Thread is his final role, it’s more than fitting. Mind you, I haven’t seen a trailer, and I barely know anything about it. But Anderson and Lewis worked such wonders together on There Will Be Blood, which many consider to be the best movie of the last decade. 

While I barely know anything about Phantom Thread, I can probably tell you that it’s among my most anticipated films of the year. I came to this verdict even before today’s announcement. Because if I know Lewis and Anderson, they’re probably going to give us one hell of a show. 

I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but I guess I can learn to come to terms with it. Lewis, for all of his beautiful genius, came, he saw, and he more than conquered. And now he’s moving on.

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