‘Bill the Butcher’ and Daniel the philanthropist

Daniel Day-Lewis was in town this week at the Opera cinema for the Greek premiere of his latest film, Martin Scorsese’s «Gangs of New York,» in which Daniel stars with Leonardo Di Caprio. It was as if «Bill the Butcher,» the bloodthirsty leader of the New York natives who had gone to war against the Irish immigrants, and who was the terror of all the gangs in the Five Points district in the 19th century at the time of the civil war between north and south, had been transformed into a polite philanthropist standing before us with his grey-green Irish eyes. Daniel Day-Lewis puts freedom of choice and the right to a private life above everything else, even acting. Sitting next to Daphne Economou, president of the Spastics Protection Society, which the Greek premiere of the film was in aid of, Daniel answered every question that had to do with acting and his role in the film but refused to answer personal questions. Asked which part of New York today was the film’s Five Points, he replied: «I suppose Chinatown.» He praised the work of Scorsese both as a director and a teacher and said he hoped Scorsese receives an Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards. As for his favorite role? «The latest. It was time I played the bad guy,» but also the next role. Not that he has a particular one in mind. Yesterday he flew back to London with his assistant and agent Thor Belfrage, heading for his home in the Irish countryside where he lives with his wife Rebecca, the daughter of the playwright Arthur Miller, and his two younger sons. Daniel also has an older son from his relationship with the actress Isabelle Adjani. The premiere was attended by Daphne Simitis, wife of Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who often visits the Center for the Education and Rehabilitation of Children with Cerebral Palsy, and supports its work. Daniel meanwhile spent Thursday watching the play «Ithaca – The Long Journey Home» by the center’s theater group, with the children, their teachers and therapists playing the roles for which they had won first prize at the Oporto Euroline Festival in Portugal in October last year. «This performance was sublime,» said Daniel afterward. A repeat performance will be held tomorrow at the Athens Concert Hall at 6 p.m. as part of celebrations for the European Year for People with Disabilities, attended by President Costis Stephanopoulos. This was Daniel’s third visit to Athens. See you again Daniel, on Oscar night!

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