Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest “future inspiration for first-year-film students,” Phantom Thread, screened for critics over the weekend, and the early word is TBD. Reactions are under a strict embargo until early December, but considering Thomas Anderson’s other project with star Daniel-Day Lewis, the Oscar-winning There Will Be Blood, is one of the finest movies of the 21st century, let’s assume it’s pretty good. There’s one thing we know for sure about Day-Lewis’ final performance, though: it was a total nightmare.
Phantom Thread largely takes place in one setting, the home and studio of acclaimed and fabulously-named fashion designer, Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis). To accurately capture the mood of the film, Anderson moved production to an actual townhouse in London. “It was awful,” Day-Lewis said in a post-screening Q&A on Sunday. “We had hoped to find that way of working again where we would be self-contained, beholden to no one, and uninterrupted. We built a world we could create and just stay in and no one could get into it. But in this townhouse, which was very beautiful, it was a nightmare.”
He continued, “We were living on top of each other. It was an enormous unit. There was no space. The way it works if it’s helpful is that these rooms belong to you. These rooms are yours, they are part of your life. But of course these rooms for us become storage spaces. You work in a room then you have to move all that shit into another room, and that space becomes a storage space.”
The famously method Day-Lewis, who described the dwelling as “a termite nest,” had trouble staying in character. “You see, it’s hard to work with a crew that really hates you,” he joked. “We must be fairly stupid because we didn’t realize it was going to be like that.” To be fair, the crew was confused because they thought Day-Lewis was playing the other Mr. Woodcock. Easy mistake.