INTERVIEW: Daniel Day-Lewis on his new film ‘Ther Will Be Blood’

 

In 1976, when he was 19, Daniel Day-Lewis, who is British and was trained in the grand theatrical tradition of Shakespeare and the classics, saw “Taxi Driver” and, despite the considerable weight and seeming obligation of his heritage, realized that what he longed to be was an American actor. “It was a real illumination,” Day-Lewis told me late in August as he sat at the rough wood dining table of a duplex apartment in downtown Manhattan, where he and his wife, Rebecca Miller, and their two boys stay when in New York. “I saw ‘Taxi Driver’ five or six times in the first week, and I was astonished by its sheer visceral beauty. I just kept going back — I didn’t know America, but that was a glimpse of what America might be, and I realized that, contrary to expectation, I wanted to tell American stories.”

It was raining hard outside, and Day-Lewis, who has the look of an elegant vagabond, was wearing clothes seemingly chosen many years ago for their utility and subtle details. His loose denim jeans were worn soft and white by use and the once-vibrant red plaid of his shirt had aged into a warm maroon. Day-Lewis is tall and lean and has tattoos circling his lower arms and the permanently inked handprints of his and Miller’s two sons climbing up his body to his shoulders. There were gold loops in each earlobe, and although he had left his sturdy, beat-up leather work boots outside the front door and was padding around in his socks, Day-Lewis still had a kind-of-jaunty porkpie hat on his head. The hat covered his long black hair and set off the contours of his face, which is dominated by his noble, bashed nose.

In his latest film, “There Will Be Blood,” which opens next month and was written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, Day-Lewis portrays a man who is searching for his fortune in oil in turn-of-the-century California. The character is loosely based on Edward Doheny, who started out as an itinerant prospector looking for gold and silver and became the millionaire who headed the Pan American Petroleum and Transport Company.

(Source: New York Times)


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