Daniel Day-Lewis sings for his supper in "Nine"

Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:15pm EST
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The idea of brooding, dramatic double-Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis singing and leaping around a stage in a movie musical seemed as improbable to him initially as it might be for audiences.

But the British actor, famed for immersing himself in intense roles such as oil baron Daniel Plainview in "There Will Be Blood," eventually shrugged off worries about holding a note in new musical "Nine" -- an homage to influential Italian film director Federico Fellini -- which begins its run in U.S. theaters on Friday.

"It was puny, it was bloody puny," Day-Lewis told Reuters of his voice when he auditioned for director Rob Marshall.

"He (Rob) thought it could be something, I thought he couldn't possibly know that from what he had heard."

Surrounded by a plethora of female stars from Sophia Loren to Penelope Cruz, Day-Lewis adopts a thick Italian accent to play the central role of film director Guido Contini in "Nine," which first played as a stage musical on Broadway in 1982.

The movie opens in New York and Los Angeles on December 18 and across the United States on December 25, and this week earned five Golden Globe nominations, including one for best actor in a musical or comedy for Day-Lewis.

"Nine" is based on Fellini's classic autobiographical 1963 film "8 1/2" that follows the director's struggle to unblock his creativity after making what he estimated to be eight and one-half movies. Fellini died in 1993.

One of the most anticipated films of Hollywood's holiday season, "Nine" also features Oscar winners Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench and France's Marion Cotillard, along with Kate Hudson and Black Eyes Peas singer Fergie. They play muses for the tortured director and inspire realizations about his career and life.   Continued...

<p>Actor Daniel Day Lewis poses for a portrait in New York, November 15, 2009. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri</p>