"It was such an important part of my life that, give my parents their due, they did not deprive me of. Even though their experiences were very far removed from what I was experiencing, in that neither of them would ever have considered setting foot on the terraces of the Den, both of them were completely open...It was through roaming the streets of Deptford that I started to understand this society we live in, which at the time coincided with a wave of dramatists who used the medium to break down the social barriers: Barrie Keefe , Nigel Williams, Karel Reisz, Lindsay Anderson and of course my hero, Ken Loach"Apparently though it was a screening of Martin Scorsese's breakthrough picture Mean Streets which became the greatest influence for the young actor. Inspired by the new wave of Amercian cinema which had made way for the breakthrough of new and exciting movie directors including Coppola, Spielberg, Lucas, De Palma and of course Scorsese himself this was a daring, unpredictable and exhilerating time for the American film industry and Daniel wanted to experience a similar artistic rebellion in his own country. This was no doubt the greatest appeal of starring in the controversial Stephen Frears picture My Beautiful Launderette which focuses on the secret affair of two homosexuals. Day-Lewis impressed in this role and in his performance as the upper class prat in Room with a View but it was his role as Christy Brown, the cerabal palsy suffering author, which earned him his first Oscar and propelled him to the international stage. My Left Foot was also the film where tales first began to emerge of his slightly unorthodox acting methods. Day-Lewis stayed in role throughout the entire shoot refusing to break character even when his agent tried to visit him on set and engage in normal conversation. He also remained in his character's wheelchair and insisted on being spoonfed by a largely bemused cast and crew. THE METHOD GROWS But this was just the begining of a career-long obsession with the method. Day- Lewis took his practice to scary new heights in his role as wrongly convicted IRA bomber Gary Conlon in the movie In the Name of the Father. For this role the actor insisted on meagre prison rations inside his freezing cold prison cell and instructed people passing by the sets to throw both emotional and physical abuse in his direction via foul language and throwing cold water at his body. It wasn't just the physical circumstances that he tried to capture either but also the appropriate mood in relation to the script's progress. For example if the actor was aware of a particularly aggressive scene coming up he would begin to occupy this state of mind a couple of days in advance of shooting. On the set of The Crucible he built his own house on set through the use of seventeenth century Victorian tools, testament to both his dedication and natural talent for being able to seemingly pull off anything that his own characters are capable of. The process sounds unbearably exhausting but a very interesting quote from the actor offers a remarkable insight into the perspective of his performances:
I have always been intrigued by these lives I have never experienced. And I love the pure pleasure of doing the work, no matter if that work involves some kind of discomfort even though I dont see it as that, one just deals with the day-to-day challenges of the character. I do it our of curiosity and I enjoy it. But the way people would have it, it is like a game of self-chatisement and it has never been that way for me its all just a big, funny game."OUT OF CONTROL? This insight into the incredible transformations that the actor undertakes perhaps gives us a greater appreciation as to how someone could train in the masochistic environment of the boxing ring, twice a day, for seven days a week, for pretty much three years straight as the method actor did next in training fo his role in The Boxer. Much like Robert De Niro and his training for Jake La Motta, the performance could not be faked. Day-Lewis had to make the audience very much aware of the authentic skill on display because otherwise it would feel like cheating. Day-Lewis and De Niro do in fact share many characteristics within their acting styles. Both men are rigurous within their preparation and have often fully developed the personality of their character before the cameras have even started rolling. They are also both famous for staying in role on set and treating people how their character would treat those said people within the script. There is however one key difference between these method actors. De Niro suffers for his art and uses a method of controlled madness to develop his character; Day- Lewis however genuinely seems to enjoy the process of metamorphasis and his method is rather less controlled. It is one thing to stay isolated on set and give people a few glares from time to time ala De Niro, however it is quite another thing to be so firmly lodged in the mind of your character that you end up putting yourself and others at harm. Day- Lewis may call it a fun game but at times it seems that his method has slipped rather out of control. Take, for example, this quote from There will be Blood co-star Paul Dano as he describes the scene in which Day Lewis' character begins to take him out with some bowling balls; a sequence which became all too realistic for the unfortunate actor:
They start flying and I realise hes getting into it. Then a ball bounces up and hits me in the leg, and Im thinking 'fuck, those are heavy; this is getting serious Id better duck.Part of Daniel's ability to transform himself also owes a great deal to his addictive personality. After all during his five year hiatus from filming he didn't just take up the hobby of cobbling - he practiced it meticulously until it became an obsession and not long after he had developed an interest in carpentry than he was suddenly assisting the film's carpentry department for one of his wive's films. It is an obsession ingrained in his personality that makes him strive for perfectionism in every craft that he tries. No matter what profession you can imagine him excelling right to the top with his natural instincts and ability to totally absorb himself in his duty. Luckily however he has returned to acting and we shall no doubt be blessed with many more fine performances and surreal stories for many years to come. Meanwhile I'm just hoping that he is never drawn to the role of a serial killer because it might not be long before we hear about him behind bars.
Thanks for reading today's article. This is actually the last in the series for the other side of madness so I hope that you have enjoyed its run. The links to the other articles within this feature are all highlighted below for you to take another look at some of the maddest films, directors, actors and stories to have surfaced within the world of film. Thanks for all the kind words and encouragement during the series progression.http://whatculture.com/werner-herzog/the-other-side-of-madness-werner-herzog.phphttp://whatculture.com/stanley-kubrick/the-other-side-of-madness-stanley-kubrick.phphttp://whatculture.com/robert-de-niro/the-other-side-of-madness-robert-de-niro.phphttp://whatculture.com/al-pacino/the-other-side-of-madness-the-making-of-the-godfather.phphttp://whatculture.com/francis-ford-coppola/the-other-side-of-madness-part-ii-of-the-making-of-the-godfather.phphttp://whatculture.com/movie-news/the-other-side-of-madness-werner-herzog-part-ii.php