Sir Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is a retired English actor. One of the most respected actors of his generation, he has also been hailed as one of the greatest actors in cinema history.
- Born: April 29, 1957 in Greenwich, London, England, UK
- Birth Name: Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis
- Nickname: DDL
- Height: 6′ 1½” (1.87 m)
Born in London, England, Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is the second child of Cecil Day-Lewis (pseudonym Nicholas Blake), Poet Laureate of the U.K., and his second wife, actress Jill Balcon.
His maternal grandfather was Sir Michael Balcon, an important figure in the history of British cinema and head of the famous Ealing Studios.
His older sister, Tamasin Day-Lewis, is a documentarian.
His father was of Northern Irish and English descent, and his mother was Jewish (from a family from Latvia and Poland).
Daniel was educated at Sevenoaks School in Kent, which he despised, and the more progressive Bedales in Petersfield, which he adored.
Protective of his privacy, Day-Lewis described his life as a “lifelong study in evasion”. He had a relationship with French actress Isabelle Adjani that lasted six years, eventually ending after a split and reconciliation.
Their son, Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis, was born on 9 April 1995, in New York City, a few months after the relationship ended.
In 1996, while working on the film version of the stage play The Crucible, he visited the home of playwright Arthur Miller, where he was introduced to the writer’s daughter, Rebecca Miller.
They married later that year, on 13 November 1996. The couple have two sons, Ronan Cal Day-Lewis (born 1998) and Cashel Blake Day-Lewis (born 2002).
They divide their time between their homes in Annamoe, County Wicklow and Manhattan, New York.
Day-Lewis has held dual British and Irish citizenship since 1993. He has maintained his Annamoe home since 1997. He stated: “I do have dual citizenship, but I think of England as my country. I miss London very much, but I couldn’t live there because there came a time when I needed to be private and was forced to be public by the press. I couldn’t deal with it.”
He is a supporter of South East London football club Millwall. Day-Lewis is also an Ambassador for The Lir Academy, a new drama school at Trinity College Dublin, founded in 2011.
On 15 July 2010, Day-Lewis received an honorary doctorate in letters from the University of Bristol, in part because of his attendance of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in his youth.
Day-Lewis has stated that he had “no real religious education”, and that he “suppose[s]” he is “a die-hard agnostic”.
In October 2012, he donated to the University of Oxford papers belonging to his father, the poet Cecil Day-Lewis, including early drafts of the poet’s work and letters from actor John Gielgud and literary figures such as W. H. Auden, Robert Graves, and Philip Larkin.
In July 2015, he became the Honorary President of the Poetry Archive. A registered UK charity, the Poetry Archive is a free website containing a growing collection of recordings of English-language poets reading their work.
In June 2017, Day-Lewis became a patron of the Wilfred Owen Association. Day-Lewis’ association with Wilfred Owen began with his father, Cecil Day-Lewis, who edited Owen’s poetry in the 1960s and his mother, Jill Balcon, who was a vice-president of the Wilfred Owen Association until her death in 2009.
In 2008, when he received the Academy Award for Best Actor from Helen Mirren (who was on presenting duty having won the previous year’s Best Actress Oscar for playing Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen), Day-Lewis knelt before her, and she tapped him on each shoulder with the Oscar statuette, to which he quipped: “That’s the closest I’ll come to ever getting a knighthood.”
Day-Lewis was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to drama. On 14 November 2014, he was knighted by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, in an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
He studied acting at the Bristol Old Vic School. Daniel made his film debut in Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), but then acted on stage with the Bristol Old Vic and Royal Shakespeare Companies and did not appear on screen again until 1982, when he landed his first adult role, a bit part in Gandhi (1982).
He also appeared on British television that year in Frost in May (1982) and BBC2 Playhouse: How Many Miles to Babylon? (1982). Notable theatrical performances include Another Country (1982-83), Dracula (1984) and The Futurists (1986).
His first major supporting role in a feature film was in The Bounty (1984), quickly followed by My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) and A Room with a View (1985).
The latter two films opened in New York on the same day, offering audiences and critics evidence of his remarkable range and establishing him as a major talent.
The New York Film Critics named him Best Supporting Actor for those performances. In 1986, he appeared on stage in Richard Eyre’s “The Futurists” and on television in Eyre’s production of Screen Two: The Insurance Man (1986).
He also had a small role in a British/French film, Nanou (1986). In 1987, he assumed leading-man status in Philip Kaufman’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), followed by a comedic role in the unsuccessful Stars and Bars (1988).
His brilliant performance as Christy Brown in Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot (1989) won him numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor.
He returned to the stage to work again with Eyre, as Hamlet at the National Theatre, but was forced to leave the production close to the end of its run because of exhaustion, and has not appeared on stage since.
He took a hiatus from film as well until 1992, when he starred in The Last of the Mohicans (1992), a film that met with mixed reviews but was a great success at the box office.
He worked with American director Martin Scorsese in The Age of Innocence (1993), based on Edith Wharton’s novel.
Subsequently, he teamed again with Jim Sheridan to star in In the Name of the Father (1993), a critically acclaimed performance that earned him another Academy Award nomination.
His next project was in the role of John Proctor in father-in-law Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible (1996), directed by Nicholas Hytner.
He worked with Scorsese again to star in Gangs of New York (2002), another critically acclaimed performance that earned him another Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
Day-Lewis’s wife, Rebecca Miller, offered him the lead role in her film The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005), in which he played a dying man with regrets over how his wife had evolved and over how he had brought up his teenage daughter.
During filming, he arranged to live separate from his wife to achieve the “isolation” needed to focus on his own character’s reality. The film received mixed reviews.
In 2007, he starred in director Paul Thomas Anderson’s loose adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s novel “Oil!”, titled There Will Be Blood (2007).
Day-Lewis received the Academy Award for Best Actor, BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama, Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, and a variety of film critics’ circle awards for the role.
In 2009, Day-Lewis starred in Rob Marshall’s musical adaptation Nine (2009) as film director Guido Contini.
He was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.