High Praise For Hoodlum Role

This undated photo released Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009 by the Illinois Department of Corrections shows Michael C. Finton.
AP Photo/Ill. Dept of Corrections
Daniel Day-Lewis already has been named Best Actor by the British Academy, the New York and Los Angeles Film Critics Associations and, recently, the Screen Actors Guild.

Soon, the actor, being recognized for his portrayal of hoodlum Bill the Butcher in "Gangs Of New York," may add a second Oscar to his collection.

To prepare for his role of William Cutting (Bill the Butcher), who ruled Five Points in 1863 New York City with violence, Day-Lewis said he had to look deep within himself.

"I'm loathe to say, but, I think you always end up going to the same place," he said. "If you can't find it there, then you're not going to really find it anywhere else."

Cutting was a nativist who detested immigrants and was determined to fend off the foreign settlers. For his part, Day-Lewis had to master a particular manner of speech.

"There's a certain flamboyance in the language, a relish of the language, even in its street form," Day-Lewis noted.

Working with director Martin Scorsese gave Day-Lewis the freedom to work on not only the language, but also the look and bearing of his character.

"One of the wonderful things about Martin is that we all, for a period of time, were working, relatively speaking, in isolation from each other, although we keep closely in touch. And once he's asked someone to do a job, he then allows you tremendous freedom to try and discover the thing that you think you need to find for yourself," Day-Lewis said.

Day-Lewis worked with Scorsese once before in 1993 in the film, "The Age of Innocence."

Day-Lewis' nomination is his third for an Academy Award. "It really is a lovely thing. It's an unlooked gift that you get if you're lucky at the end," Day-Lewis said. "People have said time and again that, of course, the honor is in the nomination. It's your colleagues that nominate you in this case, and to be included amongst this group of people- I mean both the men and the women - is really quite a wonderful thing," he added.

Some Facts About Daniel Day-Lewis

  • Daniel Day-Lewis was born in London, England, April 29, 1957
  • The actor attended Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in London at the age of 20
  • Attended Bristol Arts Centre in Bristol, England
  • Day-Lewis' first stage role was in a Sevenoaks production of "Cry, the Beloved Country"
  • In 1971, Day-Lewis made his screen debut at the age of 13 in "Sunday, Bloody Sunday"
  • In 1982, Day-Lewis starred for nine months in the West End production of "Another Country"; He earned his first lead role for British television in "How Many Miles to Babylon?"; and he had his first adult role in "Gandhi"
  • In 1986, the actor made his screen breakthrough as a gay punk in "My Beautiful Laundrette" and an Edwardian dandy in "A Room With a View"
  • In 1988, Day-Lewis made his American film debut in "Stars and Bars"; he confirmed his leading man status as the playboy Tomas in "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"
  • In 1989, Day-Lewis earned accolades, including a Best Actor Oscar, for his performance as quadriplegic Christy Brown in "My Left Foot"
  • In 1992, he starred in Michael Mann's "The Last of the Mohicans"
  • Day-Lewis was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for his role in the IRA drama "In the Name of the Father", in 1993; also, he co-starred in Martin Scorsese's "The Age of Innocence"
  • In 1996, Day-Lewis starred opposite Winona Ryder in "The Crucible"
  • Day-Lewis married director-writer Rebecca Miller on Nov. 13, 1996, in Vermont
  • In 1997, Day-Lewis starred in "The Boxer"; shortly thereafter, he took a break from screen acting
  • In 2002, the actor returned to films, co-starring with Leonardo DiCaprio in "Gangs of New York"