There must come a time in the organisation of the next dramatic smash that all the crew look at the casting director with a mix of fear and trepidation to announce; we need Daniel Day-Lewis.
Why the fear and trepidation? Well, I’m not sure you know this, but Day-Lewis is bats**t insane. He’s an outrageously talented actor, but what goes into this requires lunacy of the highest order.
You see, he ascribes to a school of acting preparation known as ‘method acting’. You might’ve heard of it. What defines this approach is the willingness on the part of the actor to adopt their role in real life, thus making for a more convincing portrayal.
It can lead to harrowing, crazy scenes. For example, Christian Bale lost a third of his bodyweight post-Batman Begins for The Machinist living off a diet of coffee and apples. Robert De Niro did the reverse for Raging Bull, getting supremely fit before utterly destroying himself on junk food. He also paid a dentist $20,000 to destroy his movie-star smile for Cape Fear.
But all this pales in comparison to Day-Lewis. Though most people do some sort of method-acting preparation these days, the Irishman’s methods go beyond the realms of sanity and into the unbelievable. I mean, for the Arthur Miller-penned The Crucible – set during the Salem witch hunts – not only did he live on the replica set in a house he built with 17th-century tools, he even married the famous playwright’s daughter. Although I’m pretty sure this wasn’t in preparation for the role. Christ, I hope I’m right.
So with his role as Abraham Lincoln on the horizon (November, to exact), we can only wonder what tasks he undertook to prepare for playing the United States’ 16th president. Judging by the insanity that went into these five roles, if he didn’t reunite a nation and free at least some slaves, I’m willing to say he’s phoned it in a bit.
This article was first posted on November 16, 2012