It's funny sometimes how my train of thought traverses its way through my head. Yesterday I was watching last weeks episode of Boardwalk Empire. Quite often while watching shows like this (or Breaking Bad, The Wire, etc.) I start thinking about the actors in it; "Wow, that guy's awesome, why haven't I seen him before?" or "He should win an Emmy for this role, I wonder if he ever has?" etc etc etc. So I start researching them as I'm watching the show, checking out wikipedia and imdb for anything interesting. Here's where the digression begins.
I started out by looking up Michael Shannon, who plays Nelson Van Alden the Federal Prohibition agent in Boardwalk Empire. Great actor, plays the role brilliantly. As I'm looking into his filmography, I see he's been in a ton of movies I've seen before: Groundhog Day, Tigerland, Vanilla Sky, Pearl Harbour, 8 Mile, Bad Boys II and more. Wow, quite the list of movies right? I then notice in 2008 he was in a movie called Revolutionary Road, and not only that, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Impressive! My hunches were right, this guy is pretty good. So then I wonder who he was up against in 2008 for that award, so I click the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor link in a new tab.
Before I was able to scroll down the list and see, the superlatives section caught my eye, and I'm looking at who has the most wins, the most nominations, youngest winner etc. So I'm looking at the list of actors with most awards, and Daniel Day-Lewis' name jumps out at me. Right! My favourite actor, wonder what he's been up to lately since There Will Be Blood? New tab!
So now I'm reading about Daniel Day-Lewis. His life, his career, and his long list of eccentricities on and off set while preparing for a role. From wikipedia:
Day-Lewis put his personal version of "method acting" into full use in 1989 with his performance as Christy Brown in Jim Sheridan's My Left Foot which won him numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor. During filming, his eccentricities came to the fore, due to his refusal to break character. Playing a severely paralyzed character on screen, off screen Day-Lewis had to be moved around the set in his wheelchair, and crew members would curse at having to lift him over camera and lighting wires, all so that he might gain insight into all aspects of Brown's life, including the embarrassments. He broke two ribs during filming from assuming a hunched-over position in his wheelchair for so many weeks.Brilliant! Some may call him crazy or eccentric, I call him dedicated and amazing. He gets even more interesting:
Day-Lewis returned to the stage in 1989 to work with Richard Eyre, in Hamlet at the National Theatre, but collapsed in the middle of a scene where the ghost of Hamlet's father first appears to his son. He began sobbing uncontrollably and refused to go back on stage; he was replaced by Ian Charleson before a then-unknown Jeremy Northam finished what little was left of the production's run. One rumour following the incident was that Day-Lewis had seen the ghost of his own father, although the incident was officially attributed to exhaustion. He confirmed on the British celebrity chat show Parkinson, that this rumour was true. He has not appeared on stage since.I think that would keep me off stage also. It seems that for every role he chooses, he goes all out to actually become the subject.
For Last of the Mohicans:
In 1992, three years after his Oscar win, The Last of the Mohicans was released. Day-Lewis's character research for this film was well-publicized; he reportedly underwent rigorous weight training and learned to live off the land and forest where his character lived, camping, hunting and fishing. He even carried a long rifle at all times during filming in order to remain in character and learned how to skin animals.For In the Name of the Father:
He returned to work with Jim Sheridan on In the Name of the Father, in which he played Gerry Conlon, one of the Guildford Four who were wrongfully convicted of a bombing carried out by the Provisional IRA. He lost a substantial amount of weight for the part, kept his Northern Irish accent on and off the set for the entire shooting schedule, and spent stretches of time in a prison cell. He also insisted that crew members throw cold water at him and verbally abuse him. The film earned him his second Academy Award nomination, his third BAFTA nomination, and his second Golden Globe nomination.For Gangs of New York:
After a five-year absence from filming, Day-Lewis returned to act in multiple Academy Award-nominated films such as Gangs of New York, a film directed by Martin Scorsese (with whom he had worked on The Age of Innocence) and produced by Harvey Weinstein. In his role as the villain gang leader "Bill the Butcher", he starred along with Leonardo DiCaprio, who played Bill's young protegé. He began his lengthy, self-disciplined process by taking lessons as an apprentice butcher, and while filming, he was never out of character between takes (including keeping his character's New York accent). At one point during filming, having been diagnosed with pneumonia, he refused to wear a warmer coat or to take treatment because it was not in keeping with the period; however, he was eventually persuaded to seek medical treatment. His performance in Gangs of New York earned him his third Academy Award nomination and won him the BAFTA Award for Best Actor.Which leads me to the part where I was reading about his portrayal of Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood.
In 2007, Day-Lewis appeared in director Paul Thomas Anderson's loose adaptation of the Upton Sinclair novel Oil!, titled There Will Be Blood. Day-Lewis received the Academy Award for Best Actor, BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama, Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role - Motion Picture (which he dedicated to Heath Ledger, saying that he was inspired by Ledger's acting and calling the actor's performance in Brokeback Mountain "unique, perfect.") and a variety of film critics circle awards for the role.From there, I went to see if youtube had the video of his award win, and it did. I watched it, and was amazed at how humble and gracious the man is.
Truly one of the greatest actors of our time, if not the greatest period. Check out his filmography, and next to most films there is a long long list of awards or nominations.
The last picture he was in was Nine, a Rob Marshall film. I can't find anything on what he may be working on now, but if his past is any indication, it will be another couple years before we see another. I can wait.
Who do you guys think is the greatest actor of our time and/or, who is your favourite?