Daniel Day-Lewis has had a long and illustrious career. As one of the most critically acclaimed actors of the last twenty years, there were definitely a few gasps and tears of sadness (including my own) when he announced his retirement after Phantom Thread. It is not all bad though; with three Oscars in his back pocket, who can complain? Let us look back at the career of a well-loved, versatile actor in his best-known roles…

Starting out: My Beautiful Launderette Vs. Room with a View

Day-Lewis was versatile from the word go, shown through two of his first films which were released at the same time. In My Beautiful Launderette, Day-Lewis played a working class, down to earth youth who falls in love with a Pakistani man, and the two struggle for acceptance in society as they open a launderette. Not only did he take on such a difficult role, but he did so with conviction; his working class accent was undeniably accurate. Meanwhile, Day-Lewis also starred in A Room With A View in the same year, and in sharp contrast, playing the part of upper class Cecil Vyse: a posh, self-obsessed snob who is fighting for the hand of Miss Honeychurch. The difference in characters, from sexual orientation to class, was noted heavily by critics who saw great potential in Day-Lewis. He was noticed from the very beginning.

The First Oscar Nod: My Left Foot

From this role onward, Daniel Day-Lewis was notoriously known for method acting, portraying the role of Christy Brown, a working-class boy born with cerebral palsy. Playing a disabled character with both conviction and sensitivity is imaginably difficult, but Day-Lewis also manages to execute the comical characteristics of his role. His believability was perhaps due to his dedication to the role, refusing to come out of character, crew having to push his wheelchair around off set. Also, he broke two ribs in the process, from being hunched over so much. Unsurprisingly, he did not go home empty handed at the academy awards, earning himself his first Oscar for his first nomination. He probably thought two broken ribs was a small price to pay.

The 90s: The Last of the Mohicans, In the Name of The Father, Crucible and The Boxer

If you thought Daniel Day-Lewis couldn’t get anymore adaptable, then just you wait. Differing from all his roles so far, Day-Lewis took on the character of Hawkeye in Last of the Mohicans, a member of the native American tribe. The method acting came into play again, Day-Lewis residing in the wilderness and living off the land for several months prior to shooting. There was no nomination, however it was another unique role in the bag. The year after, Day-Lewis played Gerry, a falsely accused IRA bomber in the saddening film In The Name of the Father, his performance more emotional than previous roles. He earned an Oscar nod for this one, stunning audiences with the actor’s dedication to lose so much weight for the role. After that, he took on John Proctor’s role in The Crucible, an adaptation about witch craft. Taking on another Irish role in The Boxer, he played the part of Danny Flynn so believably, you would easily believe he was Irish (did you even know that Day-Lewis is from London?).

Blood and brutality: Gangs of New York and There Will Be Blood

Moving on from his moving biographic portrayals, Day-Lewis’s roles begin to take on an element of brutality that had not yet reached the surface of his discography. In Scorsese’s brutal Gangs of New York, Day-Lewis starred alongside Di Caprio as Bill the Butcher, a reckless killing machine. The role was harsh, at one point the filming becoming as brutal as the film when DiCaprio broke Day-Lewis’s nose during a fight scene. But, of course, Day-Lewis did not stop to get first aid, like the pro he is, he carried on acting the scene. Improvisation was another notable attribute of his. He received an Oscar nod but, unfortunately, did not take home the goods.

He made up for it in his most critically acclaimed performance, ‘There Will Be Blood’. Playing the malicious and crazed character of Daniel Plainview, his portrayal obliterated the rest of the Oscar competition, his win easily predictable for such a notable performance. Many of the scenes were improvised, the film’s director Paul Thomas Anderson was absolutely fascinated by Day-Lewis’s performance abilities. If you have not seen any Daniel Day-Lewis films, then this one is the one that made him arguably named ‘greatest actor of all time’.

Top hats and tailor-made jackets: Lincoln and Phantom Thread

Although going back to his historical roles, Day-Lewis still played a part different to all his others with his rendition of Abraham Lincoln. A character that Day-Lewis genuinely enjoyed playing, the actor claims he loved Lincoln after having explored him greatly as a character. The role was compelling, and Lincoln was the focus of all eyes throughout the film, as it should have been. The film gained Day-Lewis his third and final Oscar win. This leads to Day-Lewis’s latest film, Phantom Thread, in which he played a dress maker. Due to the role, the actor learnt to sew and even practised making dresses to get into character. Although he received an Oscar nod for his final picture, Daniel Day Lewis did not win this time around. But, having only starred in fourteen films, to be nominated for six Oscars and win three of them is an achievement within itself.

Goodbye Daniel Day-Lewis, you will be missed.