Daniel Day-Lewis On How ‘Phantom Thread’ Cemented His Retirement Decision: ‘It Was Hard To Live With’

Daniel Day-Lewis surprised pretty much everybody by announcing his retirement from acting earlier this year. The statement released by Day-Lewis showed gratitude to his collaborators from over the years and the audiences that saw his movies, adding that the choice was “a private decision” made by the actor.

This would make Phantom Thread, his second film with Paul Thomas Anderson, his final film and the one that seemed to play into his decision to retire more than any in the past. He details this in an interview with W Magazine, admitting that he hasn’t “figured it out,” but seems ready to stop after this experience:

“Before making the film, I didn’t know I was going to stop acting. I do 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 sense of sadness. That took us by surprise: We didn’t realize what we had given birth to. It was hard to live with. And still is.”

This isn’t the first time that Day-Lewis has wanted to stop as an actor, something he’s reportedly contemplated after nearly every role. W Magazine points out that his decision to release a statement this time was an effort to make it stick, as is his refusal to not watch Phantom Thread during its release. Whether this will work is unconfirmed, but the interview makes it seem like he’s certain:

“I knew it was uncharacteristic to put out a statement,” he continued. “But I did want to draw a line. I didn’t want to get sucked back into another project. All my life, I’ve mouthed off about how I should stop acting, and I don’t know why it was different this time, but the impulse to quit took root in me, and that became a compulsion. It was something I had to do.”

Day-Lewis adds that the “responsibility of the artist” is something that came to him in terms of his career and says, “I need to believe in the value of what I’m doing…And if an audience believes it, that should be good enough for me. But, lately, it isn’t.”

The entire chat is definitely worth your time, particularly for some insight into his career and what his retirement would actually mean. It is easy to think he could come back in a few years — so many other actors have done the same — but his tone seems to place the decision in stone.

(Via W Magazine)