DANIEL DAY-LEWIS: The Fire Within by Garry Jenkins


Email this review


British journalist Jenkins adds to the mystery of the elusive actor in this respectful, not very gossipy, unauthorized biography. Though not yet 40, and though he's been featured in only ten or so films, Daniel Day-Lewis has already established himself as a star of amazing depth and range. Jenkins relies largely on interviews with Day-Lewis's half-brother, his nanny, and his teachers, as well as the few previously published interviews with the striking-looking but demure Englishman. Day-Lewis boasts quite a fancy pedigree. His father, Cecil Day-Lewis, was the poet laureate, a translator, and a mystery novelist (as Nicholas Blake); his mother, Cecil's second wife, Jill, is the daughter of Sir Michael Balcon, the head of production at Ealing Studios during the heyday of British filmmaking. Jill is also an actor of note, though she abandoned her career to raise her two children. A comfortable childhood was darkened only by Daniel's father's death when the boy was 15. Daniel's tendency to befriend lower-class toughs and mimic their ways led to his first bit role as a hooligan in Sunday, Bloody Sunday. He studied Method acting at Bristol Old Vic, where he began preparing for roles with grueling immersion into character, and made a name for himself onstage. But but it wasn't until 1985 that Day-Lewis made a splash with his widely disparate portrayals of a gay London punk in My Beautiful Laundrette and the upper-class prig in A Room with a View. His shape-shifting has persisted with roles as a Czech Don Juan, an early American frontiersman, an Irish political prisoner, and the crippled writer Christy Brown in My Left Foot, for which he won the 1989 Best Actor Oscar. Jenkins inflates his prose at times, and indulges in not a few show-biz clich‚s. But it's a serviceable job nonetheless, a fine tribute to a talent in full bloom.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1995
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: St. Martin's