There's really no denying it: Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the most talented actors in film history.
The English actor is the only person (as of 2017) to win three Academy Awards for Best Actor, taking home the Oscar for My Left Foot (1989), There Will Be Blood (2007), and Lincoln (2012). Day-Lewis has worked with some of the best directors in film, with names like Martin Scorsese, Michael Mann, Jim Sheridan, Paul Thomas Anderson, Steven Spielberg, and Richard Attenborough helming his movies.
But now Day-Lewis has decided to retire from the profession. “Daniel Day-Lewis will no longer be working as an actor,” said his spokeswoman, Leslee Dart, in a statement to 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 has never played to the conventions of traditional Hollywood, working sporadically through his multi-decade career, and truly “becoming” his characters. When Day-Lewis takes on a role, he really takes it on. The stories of his intense work are legendary.
Day-Lewis is a “method” actor, which means he basically “lives” as the character he’s portraying while filming the movie. So yeah, Day-Lewis was basically Honest Abe while filming Lincoln, speaking in an American accent even while the cameras were off. For an even more extreme example: During the filming of My Left Foot, while playing Christy Brown, a writer and painter who was born with cerebral palsy, Day-Lewis stayed in a wheelchair, forcing the production crew to move him around on set, according to The Telegraph.
Some movie fans may not realize this, but Day-Lewis has gone through some extreme acting transformations over the years—ones that rival these 15 stunners from the likes of Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Chris Pratt, Chris Hemsworth, and Jake Gyllenhaal. Day-Lewis went through intense weight training and learned how to hunt and fish for The Last of the Mohicans; he spent months training to box for The Boxer; and, for Gangs of New York, he took lessons as an apprentice butcher to portray Bill “The Butcher” Cutting.
Day-Lewis’ retirement may not fully hold; he did this once before, taking a five-year absence between films in 1997 to study woodworking and shoemaking—but this one seems pretty legit. He’ll have one more collaboration with American auteur Paul Thomas Anderson, his There Will Be Blood director, on the film Phantom Thread—a period drama “set in the couture world of 1950s London,” which is set for release on Dec. 25, 2017.
After such a long and distinguished career, Day-Lewis leaves behind one of the best filmographies an actor could ask for.
Here’s a look at Day-Lewis’ best roles from his career.