Daniel Day-Lewis, the Oscar- and BAFTA-winning actor, has announced his retirement. The upcoming Phantom Thread, a drama that Variety reports will focus on the high-fashion industry, will be his last; the Paul Thomas Anderson–directed film will hit theaters on Christmas Day. The actor has not yet disclosed why he is quitting.
“Daniel Day-Lewis will no longer be working as an actor,” his spokeswoman told Variety. “He is immensely grateful to all of his collaborators and audiences over the many years. This is a private decision and neither he nor his representatives will make any further comment on this subject.”
Day-Lewis won his first Oscar and BAFTA in 1990 for playing a mostly immobile painter suffering from cerebral palsy in My Left Foot. He subsequently got nominations for his roles in 1993’s In the Name of the Father, about the IRA, and Martin Scorsese’s gritty 2002 period piece Gangs of New York; he won a BAFTA for the latter role. He subsequently won two more Academy Awards and BAFTAs for his depiction of the villainous oil-hungry Daniel Plainview in 2007’s There Will Be Blood (directed by Anderson) and another for portraying the United States’ 16th president in the 2012 Steven Spielberg film Lincoln.
An indefatigable method actor, the Londoner made a name for himself by immersing himself in his roles. For My Left Foot, he refused to leave a wheelchair, according to Variety. He learned Czech for The Unbearable Lightness of Being. And he listened to Eminem’s “The Way I Am” to get angry enough to get in front of a camera for Gangs of New York.
“Every morning around five, [I listened to] the song ‘The Way I Am,'” he told Rolling Stone in 2003. “I’ve admired him for a while. I’m always on the lookout for music that might be helpful to a role. It bypasses the intellect in a particular way. With this film, I realized I was listening to Eminem more than usual.”
Day-Lewis, who started his career in 1971’s Sunday, Bloody Sunday. As his career gained momentum, he began taking long breaks between movies. Then when he did sign on, he would spend months developing a character. When Rolling Stone asked him about preparing for Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York, he said it could take between six to eight months for him to prepare for a role. “People talk, apparently on my behalf, about this torturous preparation period, but it misses the point, because for me it’s sheer pleasure,” he said. “Butchery wouldn’t be my first choice. But anything that involves very particular skills – you watch a butcher sharpen a knife, and it’s a thing of beauty.”