I watched There Will Be Blood for the first time the other day and thought it was a brilliant film. Daniel Day-Lewis is as captivating as always and he is my Monday Muse this week. I don’t normally draw inspiration from actors. Screenwriters and directors, yes. Actors, not so much. I suppose I’ve just always been more impressed by the behind-the-scenes action of movie making. I’m the one who watches the Making-Of documentaries and buys books of the artwork.
But there is something about Daniel Day-Lewis that makes me look twice and causes me to think about acting as a craft. He is famous of course for his methods, which are extreme, but it obviously works otherwise he wouldn’t be such a revered actor. There is something admirable about how seriously he takes his roles and how much he puts into them.
I found an interview with him in The Guardian just before There Will Be Blood was released and he comes across as being a quiet thoughtful man, and relatively modest about his acting, saying “It all sounds so ponderous and self-important.” He seems to find it difficult to explain where it all comes from and what makes him take certain roles. I’m sure there are many writers and artists who understand that feeling completely.
What struck me the most as I read through the interview, as mesmerised by Day-Lewis in words as I am by his presence on screen, was that he made me feel like I could do anything. Usually when presented with someone who is hailed as a genius, I feel overwhelmed, intimidated and inferior. Not so with this man. He said something which resonated so much with me, I might print it and put it on my wall:
It’s hard to learn anything when you are talking about it. You only learn doing it. And if you are not learning, what’s the point?
This could be a clue as to how he chooses his roles, though he may not be aware of it. He is always learning something from the rigorous research he does and from the characters he plays. And I think as long as you are learning and growing, you can never be unfulfilled.