Daniel Day-Lewis has had a long and distinguished career in acting, but last June he announced plans to retire after his next film. Now, he’s finally come out and explained why he is doing it.
Day-Lewis’ big break was the 1982 epic Gandhi, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and has since won Best Actor for My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989), There Will Be Blood (1997) and Lincoln (2012). He was also nominated for In the Name of the Father (1993) and Gangs of New York (2002).
His last film, set for release on Christmas Day of this year, is Phantom Thread, a drama about the world of fashion in 1950’s London. It and he are already considered shoe-in for Oscar nominations.
He has thought about retiring before, often while taking long breaks between projects. He says that usually, he would rewatch his old films and be inspired to continue. Apparently, he now finds himself with no real desire to watch this new movie that he is starring in, which he takes as a sign that his passion is gone.
He describes showing his son, who has an interest in musical composition, Tous Les Matins du Monde, which is about the French composer Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe, and compared its view of art to his own.
“I dread to use the overused word ‘artist,’ but there’s something of the responsibility of the artist that hung over me,” he said. “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.”
Beyond that, he says that he cannot easily explain his decision to retire, but feels it deeply. Certainly, he will be dearly missed.