‘Succession’ Star Jeremy Stong Has a Note From Daniel Day-Lewis That He ‘Will Treasure Until I Die’

Recently, The New Yorker penned a feature on Succession actor Jeremy Strong. While the somewhat disparaging profile caused some controversy, it did tell the fascinating story of Strong’s relationship to Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis. Lewis, the star of acclaimed films like Lincoln, There Will Be Blood, Gangs of New York, and My Left Foot, was not only an idol of Strong’s but also a mentor.

How did these two popular actors meet? What was the story behind Day-Lewis’s note to Strong? Here are the details.

Jeremy Strong: from assistant to star actor

Author of The New Yorker piece, Michael Schulman, explained that he attended Yale as Strong did, first meeting him in the summer of 2003. Strong, then a day player in a theater group, worked as an assistant in a film producer’s office. Strong and the rest of the staff worked on pre-production for the 2005 film The Ballad of Jack and Rose

The project changed the course of Strong’s life. In the indie flick, Day-Lewis stars as an older hippie living in a once-thriving commune. Strong managed to get a job as Day-Lewis’s assistant for the shoot on Prince Edward Island. Famous for his immersion acting, Day-Lewis emulated his character wasting away from heart disease. He starved himself, only consuming a vegan diet.

Day-Lewis became so emaciated that his wife and the film’s director, Rebecca Miller, became concerned. She recalled Strong storing a lot of nuts in the actor’s refrigerator. Strong was trying to ensure Day-Lewis was properly nourished as he continually lost weight.

Strong saw an opportunity to learn from Day-Lewis’s, explaining his job was basically “a disappearing act.” As an unobtrusive assistant, he was Johnny-on-the-spot for any of Day-Lewis’s needs. Strong even kept a diary of his experiences during the shoot.

The future Lincoln star was so dedicated to his job that some crew started calling him Cletus, after The Simpsons‘ redneck character. While that must’ve been a blow to Strong, the experience was important to him.

Strong will treasure his note from Daniel Day-Lewis forever

By the end of that summer, Day-Lewis became a valued mentor to Strong. Day-Lewis wrote Strong a note that he “will treasure until I die.” While Strong wouldn’t detail what it said, he explained to the New Yorker that it “contains many of what have become my most deeply held precepts and beliefs about this work.” The 43-year-old says he will treasure the personal note from his mentor until he dies.

Almost 10 years later, Strong had the opportunity to work with Day-Lewis again on Lincoln. Day-Lewis won an Oscar for his role, and Strong was cast as John Nicolay, the president’s personal secretary. Strong’s dedication to Day-Lewis mirrored that of Nicolay’s real-life devotion to the president. It was an easy role for Strong to take on.

When Strong won a 2021 Emmy Award for his role as Kendall Roy on Succession, he wore a taupe bow tied loosely about his neck. It was similar to the black bow Day-Lewis wore when he accepted the Oscar for My Left Foot. One might guess, it was a tribute to someone who had such an influence on his career.

A teenage Jeremy Strong’s poster shrine

Jeremy Strong accepts the Best Actor in a Drama Series award for 'Succession' onstage at the 2020 Critics' Choice Awards
Succession star Jeremy Strong wins the Best Actor in a Drama Series award at the 2020 Critics’ Choice Awards | Ari Perilstein/Getty Images for Niche lmport Co.

Long before Strong worked on The Ballad of Jack and Rose, he had a poster shrine in his bedroom of the actors he admired, including Day-Lewis. At 16, he worked on the set of The Crucible in the greenery department as it filmed not far from where he lived at the time. In one scene, Strong’s job was holding a branch outside a window.

The future Molly’s Game star interned for the editor of the 1996 documentary Looking for Richard in high school. In the documentary, Al Pacino, another of Strong’s idols, talks about playing Richard III. Strong also worked in the sound department of Steven Spielberg’s Amistad. He held a boom mike for Anthony Hopkins when he delivered his speech as John Quincy Adams. 

When Strong was asked how he was able to get these jobs as a teen, he simply said, “I just wrote letters.”

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