Daniel Day-Lewis may be foolhardy, but don't laugh

Thu Dec 27, 2007 3:13pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In movies from "My Left Foot" to current drama "There Will Be Blood," Daniel Day-Lewis has been called many things: bold, hypnotic, gripping, among them. But foolhardy is a description he may like better.

The English-born actor does not want to look like a fool -- far from it. Yet, the Oscar winner said that one of his biggest motivating forces over the years has been his desire to push limits in ways that might possibly be panned by audiences.

Fortunately for him, that rarely, if ever, happens.

"I don't want to look like an idiot," he said with a laugh. "But you know what the truth is. Having said that, you can't do this work without making a fool of yourself."

Acting with his focus solely on characters and performance with little regard for what critics think is the main lesson Day-Lewis said he learned while studying drama at the Bristol Old Vic School in Britain.

It stayed with him through the 1980s as he rose into the ranks of top actors with "My Beautiful Laundrette," "A Room With a View and "My Left Foot," the story of a man who overcame cerebral palsy to learn to write and paint with his foot.

At age 30, Day-Lewis won the best actor Oscar for "Left Foot." Since then, the son of British poet Cecil Day-Lewis and husband of filmmaker Rebecca Miller (daughter of playwright Arthur Miller) has worked with top directors in top movies.

Day-Lewis, now 50, also has been Oscar-nominated for his role in 1993's "In the Name of the Father," playing a man wrongly accused of a bombing, and in 2002's "Gangs of New York," portraying gang leader Bill "The Butcher" Cutting.   Continued...

<p>Daniel Day-Lewis arrives for the premiere of the film "There Will Be Blood" in New York December 10, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>