Monday, August 11, 2008

Male on Monday - Daniel Day-Lewis

This Monday our Natasha brings us the actor many of you think is one half of the 'hottest screen kiss' - Daniel Day-Lewis.

There are some actors who you know would really prefer not to be here - but how can I possibly not induct Daniel Day-Lewis into our Pink Heart Society hall of fame when he is one of our top nominations for best kiss? So, like it or not, Daniel will have to accept he is here.

First off, I've got a confession - I've not seen 'The Last of the Mohicans' all the way through. I've tried. I really have but I find it so painful to watch. It's soooooooo incredibly real. And that's Daniel Day-Lewis's genius, isn't it? He is utterly convincing in every role he plays. Completely different; sometimes repellent and other times mesmerisingly sexy.

Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis was born in London on 29th April, 1957, the second child of Cecil Day-Lewis (Poet Laureate of England) and his second wife, Jill Balcon. His elder sister, Tamasin Day-Lewis is a documentary film maker and TV chef.

So here, just because I can't resist it and because it is a truly delicious and very simple starter (for 6), is her recipe for Baked Peppers with Feta Cheese.

6 red peppers, halved and deseeded
extra virgin olive oil
handful of basil leaves, torn
2 garlic cloves, chopped
12 small chunks of Feta cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6.

2. Place the peppers in a baking dish, cut side down. Drizzle with olive oil.

3. Tuck the basil and garlic between the peppers. Scatter the feta on top.

4. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

But back to Daniel ...

His father was 53 years old at the time of his birth and, following frequent health problems, he died when Daniel was 15. In all other ways his childhood was one of priviledge.

He went to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, a contemporary of Miranda Richardson and Greta Scacchi, and in 1983 took the lead in 'Another Country'. Shortly after that he joined a Royal Shakespeare Company tour, playing Romeo in 'Romeo and Juliet' and Flute in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', but it wasn't a happy time. He had a "disagreement" with Romeo's director, and there was an 'unpleasant experience' with Ian McKellen. (Don't you just HATE it when you read something like that! What kind of 'unpleasant experience'???) Anyway, he was the only actor not to renew his contract for the next year (which is when the productions stop touring and play the bigger theatres).

Then came his movie breakthrough - 'My Beautiful Laundrette'. In the States that film was released simultaneously (1986) with 'A Room with a View'. Incredibly different roles.

He's an intensely private man, so it's difficult to find anything but film clips on YouTube but I did find this interview from 1986, shortly after the UK release of 'A Room With a View'. Remember that? He played poor Cecil. And his on-screen kiss wasn't anything to get the pulses racing, but it was quite funny.

In 1987 he played a Czech doctor in 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being'. It was an eight month shoot during which time he learned Czech and first began to refuse to break character while filming.

1989 he played Christy Brown, a severely paralysed man, in 'My Left Foot'. Off screen he insisted on being wheeled around the set in his wheelchair and lifted over camera and lighting wires. (I bet they loved him!) He broke two ribs during filming from assuming a hunched-over position in his wheelchair for so many weeks.

Then it was back to the theatre. 'Hamlet' at the National Theatre. Towards the end of the run, however, he collapsed in the middle of a scene where the ghost of Hamlet's father first appears to his son. He began sobbing uncontrollably and his understudy (Jeremy Northam) had to take over. Daniel has never been on stage since.

'The Last of the Mohicans' was released in 1992. During filming he learned how to live off the land and carried a Kuntucky rifle at all times. For 1993's 'The Age of Innocence' he wore 1870s-period aristocratic clothing around New York City for two months. To play Gerry Conlon in 'In The Name of the Father' he lost weight, spoke with a Northern Irish accent on and off set, spent time in a prison cell and insisted that crew members throw cold water at him and verbally abuse him.

And here's another YouTube interview in which he goes some way to explaining the way he chooses to work.

Daniel had a six year relationship with French actress Isabelle Adjani. Their son, Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis was born on April 9, 1995, in New York, a few months after they'd decided to part.

He played John Proctor in 'The Crucible' in 1996. He visited Arthur Miller, who wrote the stage-play, and was introduced to his daughter, Rebecca Miller. They married in the November of that year. The couple now have two sons - Ronan Cal Day-Lewis (born June, 1998) and Cashel Blake Day-Lewis (born in May 2002).

His next movie was Jim Sheridan's The Boxer and his preparation included training with former boxing world champion Barry McGuigan for two years. When filming finished Daniel 'disappeared'. In fact he moved to Florence in Italy and, rumour has it, worked as a cobler.

Five years later he was lured out of retirement for 'Gangs of New York'. His wife then directed him in 'The Ballad of Jack and Rose' and, most recently, he made 'There Will Be Blood'. That's an amazing performance.

Next we will see him in something called 'Nine'. Rumour has it he's also in talks to play Professor Higgins in 'My Fair Lady'. Can't actually see why that has to be re-made but ...

He's 6ft 1" tall, divides his time between America and Ireland and is a completely fascinating, if not very comfortable man.

Asked why he dislikes giving interviews he says:
"Initially it was invigorating. People suddenly wanted to hear my views on all manner of social problems. I was up for it but it palled very soon afterwards. It was not like real conversation where you listen and learn. It's hard to learn anything when you are talking about it. You only learn doing it. And if you are not learning, what's the point?"

And on why he has so long between films:
"It's really about the sense of joy you have in having worked hard to imagine and discover and - one hopes - to create a world, an illusion of a world that other people might believe in because you believe in it yourself, a form of self-delusion. After achieving that, it seems far crazier to jump in and out of that world that you've gone to such pains to create. And it wouldn't be my wish to do that, because I enjoy being in there."

Scarily, I understand that. I find leaving characters I love to begin again with a new set, a new premise is hard.

So, what are we thinking????? Too complicated? Too intense? Or just plain gorgeous??

Much love

Natasha's latest Harlequin Romance Wanted: White Wedding is available in the UK here and in NA here!

Romantic Times Magazine says: 'Natasha Oakley's Wanted: White Wedding (4.5) has its share of deeply touching moments, but what makes it stand out are the humor and the wonderful characters.'

You can find out more about it on her website and you can hear her moan about her sheikhs and other assorted disasters by visiting her blog.

Her contribution to the Niroli series, 'The Tycoon's Princess Bride', is available here and won the Romantic Times Magazine Best Presents of 2007 and was nominated for a RITA®.


  1. I think 'dedicated' and 'passionate' are probably better words. Don't we all wish to create something that will leave people gasping with surprise and delight? Don't we want them to get so wrapped up in our worlds, the readers don't want the books to end? I think that DDL has a similar belief in his craft.

  2. He's a genius. I admire his craft but I can't say I'd like to live with him. But then I suppose he does have long breaks between films and that's probably sensible.

  3. Have to say I find Daniel Day Lewis a bit poncey — especially in the over-the-top way he works and the fact that he suddenly became an Irishman after filming My Left Foot (what is that about anyway?) — that said, I was totally blown away by his love scene with Madeliene Stowe in Last of the Mohicans, you know the one under the waterfall. So I guess he is good for something.

  4. LOL To be fair, he doesn't describe himself as an Irishman. In fact, he says he's 'under no illusion but that he's an Englishman living in Ireland'. He also says he loves London but can't live there so I suspect the dual nationality is down to practicalities.

  5. Yes I think the "genius but I wouldn't want to live with him" is fair. There's a line between intriguing and eccentric. :-)

    The part that got me most excited? Jeremy Northam was his understudy!!!!!!!!!! LOL Has he been "done" for a MoM yet?

  6. Oops Natasha, I stand corrected. Just the last time I heard him being interviewed he was talking in an Irish accent. But then maybe he was in character at the time LOL.

  7. I think he's dangeroulsy charismatic. I love him.
    Yeah, perhaps he's a tad too OTT but you gotta love a man who gives 110% every time.
    Please do try to sit through TLOTM, its so worth it. The scene where he rushes through the field in slow motion, mouthing her name is breathtaking. Gets me every time. I'll take points from him though for apparently dumping his ex girlfriend (pregnant at the time) by fax.
    Oh jeez, do I even like him at all after remembering that little bit of info??


  8. Yep, I did Jeremy Northam ages ago. He was not long out of drama school (also Bristol Old Vic) when he understudied Hamlet at the National and, apparently, he was amazing when shoved onstage.

  9. Actually I thought it was Phil Collins who dumped his wife by fax, or am I totally wrong about that too? Or maybe there's two of them.


  10. If we're nominating guys for Male on Monday slots, can I nominate Paul Gross (Fraser from Due South)? There are some great pics of him on google...(swoon)

  11. No, your right Heidi. Phil rejected the so called love of his life courtesy of the fax machine too.
    Can you imagine what any of your heroines would have to say should their affairs be ended in such a way? Hell hath no fury like a woman fax.


  12. Nicolette...dammit I AM going to have to do another Hot Canadians Male on Monday...LOL.


  13. There were stories in the UK press about him finishing his relationship with Isabelle by fax because she got pregnant. She now denies that. So don't know.

    BUT there was a girlfriend after Isabelle (whose name I can't remember) who was living in his home at the time of his whirlwind romance and marriage to Rebecca. She, apparently, only found out Daniel had married someone else when one of his friends rang to congragulate him and thought she was the new wife.

  14. And I wonder why I'm not allowed to write an actor hero! Hmmm.

  15. My vote is for "just plain gorgeous"

    The Last of the Mohicans is one of my favorite films, and one that has such an intense love story that I could hardly stand it! It is also hard to stomach at times, so you're allowed a pass on that, Natasha. :)

    Thank you for going to such great lengths to tell us about the fascinating DDL. I believe he is the greatest actor of our current time.

  16. Is Day-Lewis acting or is it therapy? Day-Lewis has been described by critics as eccentric but reports from stars and technicians he has worked with reveal he is abusive & on occassion violent with fellow actors. He threw bowling balls at his co-star Paul Dano in "There will be Blood" He demanded technicians lift him up in his wheelchair during "My Left Foot" during breaks (so he could stay in
    character.) Day-Lewis prides himself as being a method actor in the spirit of DeNiro. But there is one big difference DeNiro is not abusive on the set. Day Lewis is not acting. For Day-Lewis performance is therapy. Day-Lewis is a mogul who is playing.