Daniel Day-Lewis has described his decision to give up acting as a “compulsion.”
He announced his intention to step away from stage and screen last June, leaving his fans shocked. Now he has explained that he found the idea irresistible. In an interview with W magazine the 60-year-old said: “The impulse to quit took root in me, and that became a compulsion. It was something I had to do.
“Do I feel better? Not yet. I have great sadness. And that’s the right way to feel.”
“When I began, it was a question of salvation. Now, I want to explore the world in a different way.”
Day-Lewis, son of the poet Cecil Day-Lewis and the Jewish actress Jill Balcon, is known for his commitment to method acting, and has been honoured with awards including three Best Actor Academy Awards.
He gave the interview while publicising his final film, Phantom Thread, directed by Thomas Paul Anderson, which was filmed in London. Day-Lewis stars as a dressmaker whose world is turned upside down by the arrival of a feisty young woman who becomes his muse and lover.
“Before making the film, I didn’t know I was going to stop acting. I do know that Paul and I laughed a lot before we made the movie. And then we stopped laughing because we were both overwhelmed by a sense of sadness,” he told W.
He added: “I dread to use the overused word ‘artist,’ but there’s something of the responsibility of the artist that hung over me. I need to believe in the value of what I’m doing. The work can seem vital. Irresistible, even. And if an audience believes it, that should be good enough for me. But, lately, it isn’t.”
But we haven’t heard the last of Day Lewis. “I won’t know which way to go for a while. But I’m not going to stay idle..."