Daniel Day-Lewis, who has officially given up acting, breaks his silence on the subject for W Magazine‘s holiday issue, lensed by Tim Walker. The actor was on the forefront of big rumors surrounding starting his own fashion line early this past summer, following his role as a dressmaker in Paul Thomas Anderson‘s film Phantom Thread. Day-Lewis, who took a break from his big-screen career in the ’90s to work at an Italian shoe factory, spent so much time researching his final role that he even experimented with dressmaking. While he doesn’t confirm if he is officially tapping into design in his interview with W, he does shed light on prepping for his role and why his future plans won’t be in the acting realm.
“I saw a photograph of a Balenciaga sheath dress that was inspired by a school uniform,” Day-Lewis said on re-creating the dress to prep for his Phantom Thread role. “The Balenciaga dress was very simple,” he continued. “Or at least it looked very simple until I had to figure out a way to make it and then realized, My God, this is incredibly complicated. There is nothing more beautiful in all the arts than something that appears simple. And if you try to do any goddamn thing in your life, you know how impossible it is to achieve that effortless simplicity.”
“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.” While Lewis has often wanted to quit after emerging from a character, he comments on why he sought to make this decision binding. “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. I’ve been interested in acting since I was 12 years old, and back then, everything other than the theater—that box of light—was cast in shadow. When I began, it was a question of salvation. Now, I want to explore the world in a different way.”