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8 incredible Daniel Day-Lewis roles that mean he should un-retire himself immediately


So it's been reported that legendary, three-time Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis is retiring from the acting game.

A performer who gets under the skin of his characters like few others, Day-Lewis has redefined acting and the news has been greeted with surprise and sadness. Nevertheless we thought we'd look back at his 10 greatest roles, putting forth the case that he should never retire. 


My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)

Day Lewis' breakout role came in Stephen Frears' acclaimed British drama, the poignant and affectionate story of a love affair between young Pakistani man Omar (Gordon Warnecke) and his old friend Johnny (Day-Lewis).

With a script from author Hanif Kureishi the novel's air of emotional authenticity owes a lot to the actor's memorable performance. Many of the seeds of Day-Lewis' future roles can be seen here.

My Left Foot (1989)

Day-Lewis cemented himself as an actor of formidable repute in this harrowing drama, based on a true story. He plays disabled writer Christy Brown, a man stricken from birth by cerebral palsy but who defies the odds to write his own biography – despite only having control of his left foot.

The actor, who won his first Oscar for the role, showcased his commitment to reality by remaining in character in a wheelchair between takes. By assuming Christy's hunched stance (done with the right side of his body as opposed to Christy's left, and filmed through a mirror), he also broke two ribs. How's that for acting?

The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

James Fenimore Cooper's classic wilderness adventure received a handsome adaptation from director Michael Mann. Plunging us into the complex make-up of frontier-era America the movie finds its centre in Day-Lewis' noble and impassioned Hawkeye, a white man who has been brought up amidst the Mohican tribe.

The actor's sense of decency is strikingly contrasted with the savagery of the violent and exciting battle sequences, and he shares one of the movies' all-time-greatest kisses with Madeleine Stowe's Cora.

The Age of Innocence (1993)

What, in Martin Scorsese's words, is his most violent movie? Taxi Driver? Raging Bull? Goodfellas? It's actually this critically adored period drama, one that features not one blood squib but which exerts a tremendous amount of harrowing emotional anguish on its characters.

An adaptation of Edith Wharton's novel, the film stars a typically excellent Day-Lewis as the repressed, buttoned-down New York lawyer Newland Archer who is torn between his respectable betrothed May Welland (Winona Ryder) and ill-reputed heiress Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer).

Famous for his explosivity as an actor, the movie offers a chance for Day-Lewis to show that he is also a performer of great subtlety.

In the Name of the Father (1993)

It takes an actor of real skill to not only take on controversial real-life events but to imbue those involved with engrossing, believable emotion.

Day-Lewis is that man, here starring as Gerry Conlon who was one of four people unjustly accused of being IRA bombers as a result of the 1974 Guildford pub attacks.

The horrifying true story allows Day-Lewis to convey grace notes of rage and redemption as only he can. His scenes with the late, great Pete Posthlethwaite as Conlon's father Giuseppe are hauntingly powerful and the movie (the actor's second with director Jim Sheridan) was awarded with seven Oscar nominations.

Gangs of New York (2002)

Day-Lewis had semi-retired living as a cobbler in Italy when Martin Scorsese again called on him for an epic new project.

The director's long-gestating historical drama, one decades in the making, charts early 19th century gang warfare in New York, painted on an grand scale with visceral and bloody battle scenes showing the painful birth of contemporary America.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz give the movie a glossy sheen but they're utterly outmatched by Day-Lewis' towering, ferocious turn as the terrifying Bill the Butcher, master of all he surveys and who laces his violent reputation with notes of humanity and inner conflict. The actor received yet another Oscar nomination for the role and it paved the way for a rich, new chapter in his illustrious career.

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Another Oscar came Day-Lewis' way for Paul Thomas Anderson's turn of the century masterpiece. And rightly so: he is the black, beating, near-apocalyptic heart of this relentlessly chilling drama, one charting the rise (and inevitable fall) of a remorselessly ruthless oil prospector in early 20th century America.

The role of the monstrous Daniel Plainview is the kind of grandstanding role that any actor would love to sink their teeth into. However in Day-Lewis' hands it goes above and beyond the call of duty, conveying more heat, ferocity and intimidation than the belching oil derricks that feature prominently amidst the landscape. That the character remains well within the realms of plausibility only makes him scarier, and re-affirms the actor's mighty talent.

Lincoln (2012)

By this stage in Day-Lewis' career the Oscars talk was inevitable. He clinched his third for his transformative, engrossing performance as iconic American President Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's layered historical drama.

Not only does the actor nail the look of the great man (and, based on historical accounts, the accent and mannerisms). He also gives a profound sense of an upstanding, morally courageous individual leading his country through one of the darkest periods in its history, not just a statesman but a responsible husband and father with it.

The actor's humanity and warmth ground the drama to such an extraordinary extent that we really regret his impending retirement.

Saddened by this news? Don't worry: we've got one more Paul Thomas Anderson collaboration to come before Day-Lewis steps away from our screens entirely. In the meantime share your favourite roles @Cineworld.