29 april, 1957
Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is an English actor. He holds both British and Irish citizenship. Born and raised in London, he is the son of Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis and actress Jill Balcon. Despite his traditional actor training at the Bristol Old Vic, he is considered to be a method actor, known for his constant devotion to and research of his roles. He often remains completely in character for the duration of the shooting schedules of his films, even to the point of adversely affecting his health. He is known as being one of the most selective actors in the film industry, having starred in only five films since 1998, with as many as five years between each role.
Day-Lewis is one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation and has earned numerous awards, including three Academy Awards for Best Actor, for his portrayals of Christy Brown in My Left Foot (1989), Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood (2007), and Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln (2012), a feat that makes him to date one of three male actors to win three Oscars (the other two being Walter Brennan and Jack Nicholson), and the only male actor in history to garner three wins in the lead actor category. Day-Lewis has also won four BAFTA Awards for Best Actor, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Critics' Choice Movie Awards, and two Golden Globe Awards.
Day-Lewis was born in London, the son of poet Cecil Day-Lewis and English actress Jill Balcon. His father, who was of Anglo-Irish background, lived in England from the age of two and later became the United Kingdom's Poet Laureate. His mother was Jewish, and his maternal grandparents' families had emigrated to England from Latvia and Poland. His maternal grandfather, Sir Michael Balcon, an important figure in the history of British cinema, was the head of Ealing Studios. Two years after his birth, the family moved to Croom's Hill, Greenwich, south-east London, where Day-Lewis grew up along with his older sister, Tamasin Day-Lewis, who became a documentary filmmaker and television chef.
Living in Greenwich, Day-Lewis found himself among tough South London children, and, being of part Jewish ancestry and "posh", he was often bullied. He mastered the local accent and mannerisms and credits that with being his first convincing performances. Later in life, he was known to speak of himself as very much a disorderly character in his younger years, often in trouble for shoplifting and other petty crimes.
In 1968, Day-Lewis' parents, finding his behaviour to be too wild, sent him to the independent Sevenoaks School in Kent as a boarder. Though he detested the school, he was introduced to his three most prominent interests: woodworking, acting, and fishing. His disdain for the school grew, and after two years at Sevenoaks, he was transferred to another independent school, Bedales in Petersfield, Hampshire, which his sister attended, and which had a more relaxed and creative ethos. The transfer led to his film debut at the age of 14 in Sunday Bloody Sunday in which he played a vandal in an uncredited role. He described the experience as "heaven", for getting paid £2 to vandalise expensive cars parked outside his local church.
For a few weeks in 1972, he and his parents and sister lived at Lemmons, the north London home of Kingsley Amis and Elizabeth Jane Howard. Cecil Day-Lewis had cancer and Howard invited the family to Lemmons as a place they could use to rest and recuperate. Cecil died there in May that year.
Leaving Bedales in 1975, Day-Lewis's unruly attitude had faded and he needed to make a career choice. Although he had excelled on stage at the National Youth Theatre in London, he applied for a five-year apprenticeship as a cabinet-maker, but was rejected due to lack of experience. He was then accepted at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, which he attended for three years, eventually performing at the Bristol Old Vic itself. At one point he played understudy to Pete Postlethwaite, with whom he would later co-star in In the Name of the Father.