CULTURE

Daniel Day-Lewis in town for ‘Gangs’ charity event

As William «Bill the Butcher» Cutting in Martin Scorsese’s epic «Gangs of New York,» Daniel Day-Lewis offers yet another powerful, intense performance. Hardly surprising, for world audiences and critics are used to his commanding cinematic presence, as well as the mystery which invariably surrounds his characters – not to mention himself. A little bit of the mystery was unveiled at a press conference in Athens yesterday, where the actor spoke (more) about his work and (much less) about himself. In town to participate in tonight’s «Gangs of New York» charity premiere at the Alpha Odeon Opera cinema – under the auspices of US Ambassador Thomas Miller with all proceeds going to the Spastics Society – the actor spoke about the film, his first in six years. «I have never announced my retirement,» said Day-Lewis at the press conference, adding that he enjoys doing other things from time to time – though he would not confirm rumors that had him training as a cobbler in Florence when Scorsese and Miramax’s Harvey Weinstein lured him into doing «Gangs of New York.» What he did confirm, however, was his admiration for Scorsese. «Martin had been a tremendous influence in my life many years before I met him,» he said, citing the director’s «Mean Streets» as a film which gave Day-Lewis another world perspective. A very open man, according to the actor, Scorsese talked Day-Lewis into the project (which had been in the director’s mind for 30 years) by offering him a glimpse of New York’s Lower Manhattan in the middle of the 19th century. «I am attracted to lives which are utterly mysterious to me,» said the actor, adding that in approaching each role he looks for «the illusion that I’m experiencing life through the eyes of someone else.» Well-known for deeply immersing himself into his roles – for his interpretation of Christy Brown in «My Left Foot» he remained in the wheelchair between takes, while he engaged in vigorous bodybuilding for his role as Nathaniel in «The Last of the Mohicans» – the actor talked about «the act of imagination» where in the end, «the only material is what you carry with you, all that which will unleash the emotions which will form that life.» When Day-Lewis is not looking at the world through someone else’s eyes, he blends in with the rest of the world, living in Ireland (he assumed Irish citizenship in the 1990s) with his wife, Rebecca Miller (daughter of Arthur Miller) and their children. Was the actor even remotely disappointed that he did not win the Best Actor award at the Golden Globes last Sunday? «Neither surprised not hurt,» said Day-Lewis, though he was thrilled for Scorsese, who won the award for Best Director. Any thoughts on the upcoming Academy Awards? «I’d like Martin to get his first Oscar!» «Gangs of New York,» charity event tonight at Alpha Odeon Opera 1, 57 Academias. For tickets, tel 210.962.2290. The man and his trade Born in London, in 1957, Daniel Day-Lewis was the son of poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis and actress Jill Balcon (her father, Sir Michael Balcon, headed the Ealing Studios). The young Day-Lewis found acting particularly appealing, and after dropping out of school at the age of 13, got a small part in John Schlesinger’s «Sunday, Bloody Sunday» (1971). He then joined the Bristol Old Vic where he remained for the rest of the decade, while he also collaborated with the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 1982, he got a small role in «Gandhi,» while three years later he played a leading role in Stephen Frears’s «My Beautiful Launderette.» Next came his appearance in James Ivory’s «A Room with a View.» With Philip Kaufman’s 1988 adaptation of Milan Kundera’s «Unbearable Lightness of Being,» Day-Lewis emerged as one of the most gifted leading men of his generation, while his interpretation of Christy Brown in Jim Sheridan’s «My Left Foot» earned him an Oscar for Best Actor in 1989. Other films include Michael Mann’s «The Last of the Mohicans,» Sheridan’s «In the Name of the Father,» Scorsese’s adaptation of Edith Wharton’s «Age of Innocence,» Nicholas Hytner’s adaptation of Arthur Miller’s «Crucible,» and Sheridan’s «Boxer.»