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Where Are They Now?

Daniel Day-Lewis

Author: Stephanie Faris

Published on: April 16, 2001
Related Subject(s): Not Indexed


He seemed to come from out of nowhere, winning an Academy Award and, soon after, every sought-after lead in Hollywood. But then, after a string of respectable performances, he vanished and everyone seemed to forget about the man that was once the talk of the town.

Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis was born April 29, 1957 in London, England. He landed his first role at the age of fourteen in Sunday Bloody Sunday and followed up with the TV movie Artemis 81 and How Many Miles to Babylon?. In 1982, he gained notice stateside playing Colin in the hit film Gandhi. But it was his role in the commercially successful 1984 flm The Bounty that put him one step closer to becoming a well-known name.

His relationship with the critics got a big boost with his starring role in the 1985 film My Beautiful Laundrette. The film earned him a National Board of Review Award as well as a New York Film Critics Circle Award, both for Best Supporting Actor. But it wasn't until 1989, when he starred in the Irish drama My Left Foot, that he joined the ranks of the biggest names in Hollywood.

Day-Lewis was the buzz of awards season that year, picking up a British Academy Award, a Golden Globe nomination, a Los Angeles Film Critics Award, and a National Society of Film Critics Award for his performance. But it was the Oscar he won in May of 1990 that set his career in motion. The public tuned in to see if Tom Cruise would win for Born on the Fourth of July or Morgan Freeman for Driving Miss Daisy, only to be captivated by a man they'd never seen before, winning for a movie they'd never even heard of.

His next role would be two full years in coming, but when The Last of the Mohicans finally premiered in 1992, Day-Lewis caught the eye of the female population in a major way. With long, wild locks and a warrior's body, Day-Lewis helped the historical action film to a nearly $72.5 million box office gross. He was again nominated for a British Academy Award, but because of the high commerciality of the film, the American awards shunned him.

Day-Lewis quickly made up for lost time, starring in two major films the following year. Both performances wowed critics and audiences alike and helped further establish him as among the most talented performers in the business. In the Name of the Father featured Day-Lewis as a man whose coerced confession to an IRA bombing lands him in prison for 14 years while his father fights to free him. The true story landed Day-Lewis another Oscar nomination, but he lost to Tom Hanks (Philadelphia).

His other performance that year only served to further the female public's adoration of him. The romantic drama The Age of Innocence featured breathtaking set design, authentic costumes, and heartaching chemistry between its stars, Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer. The film was considered a disappointment by some with its $32 million gross, but it earned an Oscar nomination for Day-Lewis's co-star Winona Ryder.

After The Age of Innocence, Day-Lewis took a three-year break from acting, resurfacing in 1996 for The Crucible. Day-Lewis reteamed with his The Age of Innocence co-star Winona Ryder for the retelling of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, based on the play by Arthur Miller. But a hefty promotional budget and two respectable stars couldn't save the film, which grossed a mere $63,000 in its opening weekend in the US. Next up was The Boxer, a 1997 film that looked likely to propel Day-Lewis into the Oscar ring. But while the film did well internationally, it was not released wide enough in the States, and Day-Lewis landed a Golden Globe nomination but was shut out at Oscar time.

And that was the last we heard of Day-Lewis. It is not surprising that this actor, who is most known for completely immersing himself in a role, would need some recovery time between pictures. Indeed, Day-Lewis will return to the big screen later this year, reteaming with his The Age of Innocence director Martin Scorsese for Gangs of New York. But Day-Lewis will not be the star of that film, instead supporting Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz in the story set in mid-1800s New York. It will tell the story of the violent conflicts that arose between New York natives and Italian immigrants moving into the city.

Day-Lewis and actress Isabelle Adjani were involved from 1989-1994 and have a son together, Gabriel-Kane. In 1996 he married actress Rebecca Miller, a supporting player in such films as 1994's Love Affair and Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle. They also have a son together, born in 1998.