Why did Daniel Day-Lewis leave the stage when he was performing ‘Hamlet’ in 1989?

Daniel Day-Lewis is considered one of the best performers of all time, not for nothing is he the only winner of three Oscars for best actor. His career began at age 12, in an uncredited role in John Schlesinger’s romantic drama. Sunday, damn Sunday (1971) as a young hooligan.

A decade later he returned to the cinema in Gandhi and surprised with his performances in My beautiful laundry O The Unbearable Lightness of Being. He obtained his first golden statuette with My left Foot, where he showed a ravishing talent to get into the skin of the Irish painter and writer Christy Brown, suffering from cerebral palsy.

Daniel Day-Lewis in ‘My Left Foot’

Ferndale Films

The actor spent months in a wheelchair to prepare his character thoroughly, a hard training that he has shown in successive roles and with which he has managed to captivate audiences in films such as The last Mohican, In the name of the Father, Gangs of New York, Wells of Ambition or Lincoln. His brilliant performances in the latter two, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and Steven Spielberg, respectively, earned him his other two Hollywood Academy Awards.

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Daniel Day-Lewis in 'My Left Foot';  'Wells of ambition' and 'Lincoln', works for which he has won the Oscar for best actor

Meticulous and selective to unsuspected limits, Day-Lewis devotes himself to his profession to a sickly point, as he himself has confessed on occasion. And it is this obsession to achieve such perfection in his work, to build and study each character in depth until he completely transforms himself into him, which has led him to take different breaks in his career to devote himself to other tasks that do not require so much intensity. .

Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day-Lewis

Third parties

In 1999, he already announced that he was going to live a season in Florence to learn to be a shoemaker and in 2017 he assured that he would definitely leave acting after starring The invisible thread, where he played a 1950s London haute couture designer who lives caught between his professional success and a great existential void. Before I made the movie, I didn’t know I was going to stop acting. I know that Paul and I laughed a lot before we made the movie. And then we stopped laughing, because we were both overwhelmed by a feeling of sadness. That surprised us: we did not realize what we had given birth. It was hard to live with. It still is, ”he pointed out to W Magazine as a reason for your decision.

In 2017 he announced that he was permanently retiring from acting after starring in ‘The invisible thread’

Daniel Day-Lewis was predestined to be an artist. He was born into a cultured left-wing Jewish family on April 29, 1957 in London. His maternal grandfather, Sir Michael Balcon, was a renowned film producer. His father, Cecil Day-Lewis, was a poet to Queen Elizabeth II and his mother Jill Balcon was a renowned stage actress. Precisely, his beginnings as an actor took place on the stage, where his name became enormously popular before succeeding in the cinema.

In this image released by Focus Features, Vicky Krieps, left, and Daniel Day-Lewis appear in a scene from

Daniel Day-Lewis learned sewing to play the couturier of ‘The Invisible Thread’


And the fact is that during a performance of Hamlet at the National Theater in London in 1989 he rushed off the stage between sobs. It was while doing the scene of the dialogue between the protagonist and his dead father. His rapport with the character had been so deep that the actor began to speak on stage to his own father, to whom he was very close and who died when Day-Lewis was only fifteen years old.

His father, the poet Cecil Day-Lewis, to whom he was very close, passed away when Daniel was 15 years old.

In later interviews, he claimed that he fled in terror because he had seen his father’s ghost. However, in 2012 he qualified the magazine Time who spoke more metaphorically than literally about that episode. “It is possible that I said a lot of things after what happened and to some extent I probably saw my father’s ghost every night, because of course, if you are working on a play like Hamlet, you explore everything through your own experience”.

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Daniel Day-Lewis

He added: “That correspondence between father and son, or between son and father who is no longer alive, played a very important role in that experience. So yes, of course, it was communication with my own dead father, but I don’t remember seeing my father’s ghost on that dreadful night. ” Since then he has never done theater again. No cinema for four years. There seems to be no going back … and he is missed.

Since that episode at the National Theater in London he has never set foot on a stage again