News Analysis

Thursday 18 September 2014

Kim Bielenberg: Daniel should be embraced with open arms as one of our greatest living Irishmen

Published 25/02/2013 | 12:59

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Daniel Day-Lewis collected his third Best Actor Oscar for Lincoln
Daniel Day-Lewis collected his third Best Actor Oscar for Lincoln

DANIEL DAY-LEWIS joked at the Oscars that when he took the role of Lincoln he had been committed to play the part of Margaret Thatcher – and I half believed him.

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We had become accustomed to seeing Day-Lewis as an actor who takes himself seriously, but he seems to have lightened up during his stint in the Wicklow Hills.

It is a mark of his stature as an actor that one could well imagine him making as good a fist of Maggie as Meryl Streep herself.

And of course, if he did perform the role of the British Prime Minister he would want to live the part. He would sit bolt upright in the bed at home in Annamoe and proclaim: “You turn if you want to – the lady is NOT for turning!........No! No! No!”

In his Oscar acceptance speech, Day-Lewis first engaged in the familiar Hollywood practice of humblebragging to his fellow luvvies: “I really don’t know how any of this happened.”

But then he showed a more self-effacing streak that seems to have become more evident in recent years. As well as the Thatcher quip, he said: “Since we got married 16 years ago my wife Rebecca has lived with some very strange men – and they are even stranger as a group.”

In his earlier career it was easy to form the impression of Day-Lewis as a man playing the part of an actor who was too earnest for his own good.

When he took the role of Hawkeye in the Last of the Mohicans he lived on his own in an American forest, foraging for food and going about the place with a vintage shotgun.  He was so obsessive that he apparently took the old rifle to Christmas dinner with friends.

Even his emergence as a born-again Irishman in the 1990s seemed like another piece of method acting.

I remember once hearing the plastic Paddy jibe: “I knew Daniel Day-Lewis before he was Irish.”

But his decision to bring the European Premiere of Lincoln to Dublin, with the proceeds going to the Wicklow Hospice, showed that his allegiance to his adopted country was no elaborate pose.

It was a sincere and moving gesture by the Freeman of Wicklow.

As the first person in history to win three Oscars for best actor, Daniel should be embraced with open arms as one of our greatest living Irishmen. After our recent sporting setbacks we need all the glory we can get.

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