Pursuing the elusive Daniel Day-Lewis

"For the most part I try to hear the voice, which is one of the most deep and personal ways we present our very selves. It’s like a fingerprint of the soul,” said Daniel Day-Lewis. Last week, the 50-year-old actor was discussing his character, Daniel Plainview, in Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film, There Will Be Blood, based upon Upton Sinclair’s turn-of-the-century novel Oil! “Little by little a voice started to talk in my head, and then the problem becomes how to make those sounds—to get it out of your head.”

Plainview is a complicated, shadowy character: darkly misanthropic with fleeting flashes of kindness, and singularly obsessive in his quest for oil, driven by demons never fully revealed to the audience. Plainview’s speech is elegant and formal, words both clipped and rounded, and when the fury that’s never too far below the surface rises, it grows quieter, becoming more menacing. Mr. Day-Lewis’s natural speaking voice—rich, refined and deep in timbre—is a bit of a surprise to hear after decades of the actor and his voice disappearing into characters. But then again, there’s a lot that’s surprising about meeting Daniel Day-Lewis in person.

The famously elusive and revered actor chooses to make fewer movies than his contemporaries (only four in the past decade), and when he’s not working drops out of the public eye. Hence the mystique that’s cropped up around him, particularly about his awesomely intense Methody prowess. (He never breaks character! He learned how to make a canoe during The Last of the Mohicans!) But Daniel Day-Lewis the man—at least on this cold December day—was relaxed, charming and quick to laugh, with long graying hair and sharp green eyes that, combined with his beakish nose, gave him the look of some exotically handsome bird of prey.

(Source: NY Observer)


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