Why Daniel Day-Lewis Decided To Retire From Acting

Phantom Thread Daniel Day-Lewis smiles and laughs

Earlier this year, Daniel Day-Lewis announced through a personal representative that he was retiring from the craft of acting. At that time, there weren't any further details given to the public, leaving us all to wonder why the legendary thespian would jump ship after participating in Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread. Well now we've got some more information from Day-Lewis himself on why he's decided to take his leave from acting. His explanation is, as follows:

I knew it was uncharacteristic to put out a statement. But I did want to draw a line. I didn't want to get sucked back into another project. All my life, I've mouthed off about how I should stop acting, and I don't know why it was different this time, but the impulse to quit took root in me, and that became a compulsion. It was something I had to do.

The decision for Daniel Day-Lewis to stop acting came during the process of researching his role in Phantom Thread, which ultimately caused the Academy Award winner to go through some personal changes, including rethinking his career. Instead of merely saying he was going to quit show-business, only for another offer to come along and contradict his wishes, he made an official statement and hasn't looked back. Much like a typical performance in his canon, Day-Lewis is going all the way with this withdrawal from acting.

It's certainly sad to see the man whose given such amazing performances in classics like My Left Foot and The Last of The Mohicans, as well as modern heavyweights like There Will Be Blood and Lincoln, hanging up his metaphorical hat. But with a career like his, Daniel Day-Lewis wouldn't be blamed for retiring at this point, due to the fact that the sheer amount of energy he puts into a single role is something that most actors would not be capable of. He's extremely method, and that seemingly gets pretty draining. In the case of Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread was the straw that broke the camel's back, as the film sent the actor into an unanticipated sadness. Day-Lewis explained this further in his recent profile W Magazine. He said:

Before making the film, I didn't know I was going to stop acting. I do know that Paul [Thomas Anderson] 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.

So if you need to blame anything for Daniel Day-Lewis's retirement, you can blame Phantom Thread itself, as the intensity of the project created a sadness that both the director and actor couldn't shake. He's even gone on to say that he doesn't want to see the completed film, due to the decision to stop acting in the wake of that sadness. The actor is clearly he's not out of the woods yet when it comes to those feelings, so naturally, he's all about the rehabilitation process at this point.

The way that Daniel Day-Lewis puts together a role is something that isn't easily duplicated, and can be as painstaking as it is beautiful to watch. Few actors come close to his level of chameleon-esque craft-work, and there's only a number who can be held in equally high regard. We'll certainly miss his presence on the big screen, but at the same time, it's totally understandable why he'd make such a choice at this juncture in his life. We'll just have to take in Phantom Thread extra carefully when the film is released to theaters on December 25th. But in the meantime, we'll be reviewing our 2017 release schedule, to see what else is coming to theaters that can distract us from this impending farewell.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.