Joseph Gordon-Levitt Never Met Daniel Day-Lewis in Person; He Only Met President Lincoln and Had to Call Him ‘Sir’

Our favorite actors rise to prominence through immense talent and commitment to their craft. We’ve seen stars shave their heads, drop weight, and bulk up for roles. And some take it a step further by employing Method acting. These stars refuse to break character leading up to and throughout an important role, allowing them to embrace their fictional counterpart’s mindset and worldview fully. And for the leading man of Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis, this meant attending an inauguration instead of an audition. 

Daniel Day-Lewis is a 3-time Oscar winner

A composite image showing a comparison between Abraham Lincoln and actor Daniel Day-Lewis
Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Day-Lewis | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Daniel Day-Lewis was born into an artistic family. His father, Cecil, spent four years as London’s poet laureate, and his mother was an actor. Friends and family quickly noticed Day-Lewis’ own talents despite his inability to behave in school, Biography reports.

He soon fell in love with acting, along with craftsmanship. When Bristol Old Vic Theatre School accepted him, he had finally found the academic setting in which he could succeed. 

As his career began, Day-Lewis continued his theater work and was cast in a few small movie roles. His big break came in 1985 after an impressive performance in A Room With a View. From there, he was off and running — starring in award-winning productions such as The Last of the Mohicans and The Crucible. 

According to IMDb, Day-Lewis announced his retirement from acting in 2017. But the final curtain call didn’t come before he gave one of his most impressive performances. In 2012, he starred as Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln — a role that would win him his third Academy Award. 

Co-stars revealed how Day-Lewis prepared for ‘Lincoln’

Throughout his Hollywood tenure, Day-Lewis was no stranger to prestigious award nominations and wins. His name was such a staple at ceremonies that it seemed truly easy. Insight from his films’ co-stars, however, proves the immense work Day-Lewis put into each role. From early in his professional acting career, the thespian was committed to Method acting. He would get into and stay in character for months before a movie’s filming had even begun. 

A fascinating demonstration of this strategy was on display during Lincoln. Co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt told the Daily Mail that he felt as though he never met the man who played his film father. “I only ever met the president,” he said, “I called him ‘Sir.'” Day-Lewis would refer to Gordon-Levitt as Robert, the name of Lincoln’s son. 

Sally Fields, who played Day-Lewis’ movie wife, also got a taste of the eccentric acting method. When Day-Lewis was forced to use modern technology, he insisted on texting old-fashioned messages and expected her to reply similarly. She claimed his preparation began seven months before the filming started. 

Method acting was a staple of Day-Lewis’ Hollywood career

Day-Lewis’ strange methods might be described as unique if they hadn’t been present on every set he graced. While filming The Last of the Mohicans, the actor carried a tomahawk and learned to skin animals. 

He even put his own life at risk for fictional roles. In Gangs of New York, Day-Lewis refused to wear clothes that didn’t feel authentic to the time period of 1863. Unfortunately, in the freezing climate, he contracted pneumonia. Ever-committed, Day-Lewis attempted to refuse modern medicine — until he learned his life was in danger

We wish Daniel a happy (and safe) retirement.