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Daniel Day-Lewis makes Oscar history

25 February 2013, 12:05

Los Angeles - Daniel Day-Lewis has won a record third best actor Oscar, confirming his status as one of the finest actors of his generation, with an incredible range and astonishing attention to detail.

His uncanny performance as the 16th US president in Lincoln could hardly be further away from his character in My Left Foot, in which he played a man with cerebral palsy to win his first Academy Award in 1990.

The British-Irish actor also played a gay man in an inter-racial relationship in 1985's My Beautiful Laundrette, in the same year he appeared in the quintessentially upper-class Englishman in A Room with a View.

Day-Lewis - who won his other Oscar as a ruthless oil tycoon in 2007's There Will Be Blood - is renowned for the selectiveness and intense research with which he approaches each of his roles.

The full list of 2013 Oscar winners

The 55-year-old actor has made only four films in the last decade. But without exception, Day-Lewis has immersed himself in each of his roles to a degree that has become legendary.

Day-Lewis was born in 1957 to Cecil Day-Lewis, then Britain's poet laureate, and Jill Balcon, an actress whose father ran London's legendary Ealing film studios.

He dropped out of school at age 13 for his first film, an uncredited bit part in Sunday, Bloody Sunday, then began to seriously hone his acting skills - first at the Bristol Old Vic, then with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

In 1982 he reappeared on the silver screen in the epic Gandhi, but he really made his name three years later in two very different films: My Beautiful Laundrette and A Room with a View.

In 1987 he clinched his first starring role opposite French actress Juliette Binoche in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, director Philip Kaufman's adaptation of the Milan Kundera novel.

Often during films Day-Lewis chooses to remain in character off-set, living and breathing the part of his on-screen persona 24 hours a day.

Mysterious five year break

For 1989's My Left Foot, he insisted on staying in his character's wheelchair during the shoot to the consternation of crew members forced to carry him above or around camera cables and lighting.

In 1992's historical epic The Last of the Mohicans, Day-Lewis buffed up and learnt to live off the land as his character had done.

For Martin Scorsese's period drama The Age of Innocence, Day-Lewis reportedly donned 1870s garb and spent several weeks wandering around New York to get into character.

Also in 1993, Day-Lewis shed several pounds to play an Irishman wrongfully convicted of an IRA pub bombing in In The Name of the Father.

Day-Lewis ordered crew members to verbally abuse him and throw cold water over him during the making of the film.

During the making of his next film, 1996's adaptation of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, Day-Lewis met his wife, Rebecca Miller, the daughter of the legendary late American playwright.

Day-Lewis was to make one more film - 1997's The Boxer - before retreating into a mysterious five-year break from acting that has been the subject of intense speculation.

Returned with a vengeance

The most widely reported version of events is that Day-Lewis spent part of the period living in Italy learning to become shoemaker in exchange for teaching a cobbler how to act. Whatever the truth, Day-Lewis has studiously avoided talking about the period.

Once asked what he had done during those years, Day-Lewis replied: "Different things. Some of which I've resolutely chosen not to speak about."

Day-Lewis returned with a vengeance in 2002, teaming with Scorsese once again to play the murderous Bill 'The Butcher' Cutting in Gangs of New York, a role that earned him his third Oscar nomination.

A further appearance in the drama The Ballad of Jack and Rose in which he was directed by his wife, came in 2005, before Day-Lewis re-emerged to link with director Paul Thomas Anderson in There Will Be Blood six years ago.

His only movie between that and Lincoln was 2009's Nine, in which he played a film director struggling to find harmony in his professional and personal lives.



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