Sunday, December 29, 1996
By LOUIS B. HOBSON
NEW YORK -- A new day has dawned for Daniel Day-Lewis.
The brooding Irish actor has abandoned his bachelor status, become press-friendly and has almost come to terms with his celebrity status.
"I've not had some kind of awakening or revelation. I just feel less inclined to fight the press. Basically, I guess, it's got to the stage where I'm much less bothered by the whole celebrity thing," admits Day-Lewis.
He still won't talk about his break-up with girlfriend Isabelle Adjani, the mother of his 20-month-old son Gabriel-Kane.
He says he was present at the birth of his son adding "it was a difficult birth. Being in the presence of any newborn is an incredible experience. Being in the presence of your own child at his birth is something you carry with you forever."
Day-Lewis says the last name of his son has yet to be determined and Adjani claims Day-Lewis is not providing financial support.
On Nov. 13, Day-Lewis, 39, wed Rebecca Miller, the 32-year-old daughter of American playwright Arthur Miller. The two met while Day-Lewis was filming the screen version of Arthur Miller's play The Crucible.
Just weeks before the wedding, the actor had been dating his New York fitness trainer Deya Pichardo and had been rumored to be renewing his romantic friendship with Julia Roberts.
During his volatile six-year relationship with Adjani, Day-Lewis also dated his Age Of Innocence/Crucible co-star Winona Ryder and his Lightness Of Being co-star Juliette Binoche.
His love life was as obscure as his name until 1990 when he won the Oscar for My Left Foot, in which he portrayed Christy Brown, the Irish painter crippled by cerebral palsy. Before that, he was content to be the unknown chameleon actor from such films as My Beautiful Laundrette, The Bounty, A Room With A View and The Unbearable Lightness Of Being.
"For me, it's always been about the preparation for the work, not the work itself, so I didn't know how to handle the sudden barrage of questions that followed the Oscar.
"I don't like to talk about how I prepare for my role and I don't think my life is interesting enough to talk about."
Could this be feigned humility?
Day-Lewis is the son of the Anglo-Irish poet Cecil Day-Lewis who became the Poet Laureate of England. His father died when Daniel was 15.
It was widely rumored that the son did not mourn his father's death until 17 years later when he was performing Hamlet on stage in London.
When the actor playing the ghost of Hamlet's father addressed him, Day-Lewis broke down and rushed from the stage.
He had to be replaced for the remainder of the play's run.
Day-Lewis' version of the event is much different.
"I have no bad feelings of my father or the ghost of Hamlet, Shakespeare or the National Theatre (of Great Britain). In a moment of exhaustion, I left the stage and just didn't go back again."
Daniel's mother is actress Jill Balcon and his grandfather is the late Sir Michael Balcon, who ran Britain's Ealing Studios. His sister Tamasin is a documentary filmmaker in England.
"I learned to be an actor very early in life. I grew up in Greenwich (a middle class London suburb). I was Jewish, Irish and had a posh accent. In order to survive, I had to adopt a working-class accent and demeanor every time I left our home," he recalls.
What Day-Lewis has learned is to crawl inside the skins of his characters.
To play the wheelchair-bound Christy Brown, Day-Lewis learned to paint with his foot and remained in a wheelchair for the duration of the film shoot.
For his role as the frontiersman Hawkeye in Last Of The Mohicans, he learned to skin animals and took musket shooting lessons.
Two months prior to shooting The Crucible, Day-Lewis joined the film's construction crew to help build the sets for the movie.
"I wanted to get the feel of working with my hands and being close to the land as my character (John Proctor) was. I needed to get in touch with that part of me.
"I do my research to satisfy my insatiable curiosity. The actual film is almost coincidental. If I could, I'd just prepare and not make the films, but nobody would pay me to do that."
He admits the $7 million he receives for each film "has given me the security and privilege of doing only those films which really appeal to me."
It was for different reasons that he turned down the Tom Hanks role in Philadelphia and the Tom Cruise role in Interview With A Vampire.
"When those offers came up, I was already preparing for another film. I have made it a rule I will not even consider a film until I have completely divorced myself from the one I'm working on."
Next up for Day-Lewis is The Boxer, in which he'll play an Irish boxer torn between his ideals and the lure of fame.
Saturday, December 28, 1996
The reluctant movie star
Daniel Day-Lewis doesn't like to work but still managed to win an Oscar
By BRUCE KIRKLAND
Irish actor Daniel Day-Lewis rarely works, rarely goes public and never reveals himself, except inadvertently.
So, in November when he secretly married actress-artist-filmmaker Rebecca Miller, daughter of legendary American playwright Arthur Miller, it was a shock to everyone outside a very tight circle. Especially to his then `current' girlfriend, New York-based fitness trainer Deya Pichardo, who reportedly had no idea what her beau was up to.
The 39-year-old Day-Lewis, in an interview before the marriage, never even hinted at what was to come. And why would he tell the press if he hadn't even informed his own girlfriend he was marrying someone else?
Yet his approach to life and work does reveal truths about the man, truths that have made him one of the more mysterious figures in cinema, a brooding, troubled spirit who inspires deep desire amongst his female fans.
"I wish I knew," Day-Lewis, son of the former British poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis, says when questioned about the compulsion he has to act, even if only occasionally.
"But I think I was quite shy as a kid. I didn't get on with people ... I didn't get on badly with people but I'd just as soon be on my own as with other people." (even his best friends are routinely quoted as saying that hasn't changed.)
"Yet I have this great curiosity about other people's lives. So much so that I could look at a person and feel, even in a moment of self delusion, that I understood that person, what it felt like to look through their eyes. Acting gives me an opportunity to satisfy that cursiosity."
Which is how he connected with Rebecca Miller in the first place, although the details of their connection remain speculative since neither one has chosen to tell all publicly. Day-Lewis found Rebecca through her father, who adapted his 1953 play The Crucible for the screen.
Filmmaker Nicholas Hytner cast Day-Lewis as the male protagonist John Proctor, a morally stalwart Massachusetts farmer who gets caught in the web of paranoia and hysteria surrounding the Salem witch trials of the 1690s. The Crucible is currently playing in Toronto cinemas.
"It was Arthur Miller's John Proctor that compelled me to do it," Day-Lewis says of overcoming his inclination to laziness. "It cut through me like a knife and I just knew there was no way I could steer 'round it."
Day-Lewis, despite the acclaim he has generated in films such as In The Name Of The Father, The Age Of Innocence and My Left Foot (a role which garnered him an Oscar), works as rarely as possible.
"I work when I feel the need to work. When I don't feel that I tend to indulge this wonderful luxury of not working. I'm just like a layabout the rest of the time. I do feel that the two things go hand-in-hand. I do feel that the periods of laying fallow are the periods that allow me to do the work in the way that I want to do it."
Meanwhile, his complicated personal life gets more mysterious. In the past, he has reportedly had liaisons with actresses Julia Roberts, Crucible co-star Winona Ryder and French star Isabelle Adjani, mother of his son Gabriel-Kane, whom Day-Lewis is said to see only occasionally.
The media attention his colorful love life has generated leaves Day-Lewis cool and brittle. "The stuff of one's private life (in the media) is sometimes so ludicrous that it makes no difference anyhow," he says of enduring the gossip.
"But sometimes it's hurtful and usually it's hurtful because it's meant to be. That's still kind of a mystery to me, all that nonsense."