Daniel Day-Lewis Just Explained Why He's Quitting Acting--And We're Even More Confused

Daniel Day-Lewis Just Explained Why He's Quitting Acting--And We're Even More Confused

Photo by Jeffrey Mayer-WireImage

Daniel Day-Lewis the three-time Oscar winner for the films, My Left FootThere Will Be Blood, and Lincoln announced back in June that he was walking away from acting. His latest release in Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread will be his last.

In an interview with W Magazine, the beloved actor explained why he was leaving the craft he has mastered... kind of. We still aren't sure. Actually, Day-Lewis might not be sure.

He told W Magazine, about the role for Phantom Thread in which he plays a fashion designer in 1950's London, 

“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. That took us by surprise: We didn’t realize what we had given birth to. It was hard to live with. And still is.”

If that wasn't clear enough for people, Day Lewis did go on to elaborate... well kinda. 

“There are spells in these films that you can’t account for. Paul and I spoke a lot about curses—the idea of a curse on a family, what that might be like. A kind of malady. And it’s not that I felt there was a curse attached to this film, other than the responsibility of a creative life, which is both a curse and a blessing. You can never separate them until the day you die. It’s the thing that feeds you and eats away at you; gives you life and is killing you at the same time.”

Finally, the actor did get closer to clarifying why he was walking away from his career— in a round-a-bout kind of way. 

“I haven’t figured it out. But it’s settled on me, and it’s just there. Not wanting to see the film is connected to the decision I’ve made to stop working as an actor. But it’s not why the sadness came to stay. That happened during the telling of the story, and I don’t really know why.
One of my sons is interested in musical composition, so I showed him the film Tous Les Matins du Monde, about the French composer Sainte-Colombe. My son was deeply struck by the sobriety that it took to create that work, Sainte-Colombe’s refusal to accept less than what was extraordinary from himself or anyone else. 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.”

Whatever his reasons, they are his own. His fans will continue to love him and hope one day he changes his mind. 

You can see the preview for Phantom Thread below. 

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