In Paul Thomas Anderson’s upcoming film Phantom Thread, Daniel Day-Lewis plays Reynolds Woodcock, a couturier whose life becomes disrupted by love. It’s no question that the celebrated actor will receive some awards season love because, well, he is the Daniel Day-Lewis. Enjoy it while it lasts because this is expected to be Day-Lewis’ final on-screen performance — and he doesn’t exactly know why.
The Academy Award-winning actor announced his retirement from acting last year. Some people might think that this is one of those situations where an actor says he’s going to retire, but ends up coming back for a handful of encores. But in a recent interview with W Magazine, Day-Lewis talked as if this retirement is set in stone.
“Before making the film, I didn’t know I was going to stop acting,” Day-Lewis said in the interview, referring to his forthcoming drama, Phantom Thread. “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.”
Like his previous roles, Day-Lewis immerses himself in the role of the couturier. He learned to sew, studied vintage fashion shows from the ’40s and ’50s and consulted with some of the most esteemed names in the business when it comes to costuming and fashion history. He even went as far to re-create a Balenciaga dress. Even so, he’s not going to sit in the theater to experience the fruits of his labor.
“Not wanting to see the film is connected to the decision I’ve made to stop working as an actor,” he said. “But it’s not why the sadness came to stay. That happened during the telling of the story, and I don’t really know why.”
He went on to talk about how it was “uncharacteristic to put out a statement” about his retirement last year. “But I did want to draw a line,” he adds. “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.”
As much as we want to see the magic that is Daniel Day-Lewis after The Phantom Thread, it sounds like the Oscar-winning actor made his decision and is sticking to it.