The Masters: 30 Best Paul Thomas Anderson Actors

From 'Hard Eight' to 'Inherent Vice,' we've ranked the MVPs of PTA's movies

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2. Daniel Day-Lewis

Day-Lewis's Oscar-winning turn as ruthless wildcatter Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, Anderson's epic about the oil rush in turn of the century California, has already become iconic, complete with its own catchphrases ("I drink your milkshake!"). It's a remarkably broad performance — animalistic in the film's first act, silver-tongued and scheming in later scenes, and downright monstrous in the shattering finale – that somehow never overwhelms the narrative. But there's subtlety in there, too. This is a man who, for all his cutthroat determination, understands the horrifying cost of doing business. Has he consciously buried his humanity, or did he never actually have any?  Day-Lewis leaves sly little hints of tenderness in there, suggesting that Plainview might be a far more damaged, tragic figure than we could possibly imagine.

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