In order to play the part of the severely disabled cerebral palsy sufferer Christy Brown, Day-Lewis spent months in a wheelchair and learnt to paint with his foot by holding a brush between his toes. He also spent considerable time studying disabled patients at a Dublin hospital. He performance bagged him his first Oscar.
The Last of the Mohicans
Day-Lewis lived alone in a US forest, learning to hunt and to forage for food. As the part demanded comfort with firearms, he took to carrying a vintage rifle with him everywhere – including to a Christmas dinner thrown by a friend.
Gangs of New York
Besides his new-found butchery skills (see main story), Day-Lewis – always in character – took to starting fights with strangers in Rome, where the film was being shot. He subsequently said that his days of fighting on the terraces at Millwall FC helped prepare him for the part.
The Ballad of Jack and Rose
To play the part of Jack, a farmer, Day-Lewis perfected his woodwork skills by building part of the set that was used in the film – which was directed by his wife Rebecca Miller.