The Gangs of New York star was born and raised in London but also has Irish citizenship because of his father's connections to the country, and he admits his British background made him feel like a fraud for taking on the role of beloved U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.
He tells Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper, "I was very aware of the responsibility involved as I didn't want to be the person who desecrated the memory of the most loved president America has ever known... It seemed like an outlandish idea to take someone who grew up in south east London and make him President of the United States... I'm not an American citizen so I don't have the right to be president."
Day-Lewis previously admitted he had doubts about taking on the film project, but the gamble paid off - he has received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for the role, as well as a nod at the upcoming British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Film Awards. He also won a Best Actor trophy at the recent Golden Globes.
The actor recently hit headlines when it was revealed the cast and crew of Steven Spielberg's new movie Lincoln had to address Day-Lewis as "Mr. President" even when he wasn't filming scenes in character.
Day-Lewis, who is up for a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in the film, has gained a reputation for going to extremes for his roles, but he's adamant his method acting isn't as bizarre as it seems.
He tells Time Out magazine, "I didn't go looking for that. It was not my intention to create a specious air of mystery about what I do.
"I've been reluctant to talk about how I work because I don't feel one should talk about it. But the problem is a lot of other people then talk about it and by a process of Chinese whispers it sounds like some strange satanic ritual is taking place with the whole thing about immersion."
The Abraham Lincoln biopic opened in North America late last year (12) but gets its main worldwide release in January and February (13).
Eagle-eyed viewers have already spotted almost 30 gaffes in the film, eclipsing the 26 errors which landed Bond blockbuster Skyfall second place in the 2012 list.
Mistakes detailed on movie website IMDB.com include a vanishing cigarette, a torrential downpour which suddenly becomes a light drizzle, a scene featuring a bust of President Woodrow Wilson, who was only a child during the years in which the movie is set, bright daylight outside the White House at 5pm in November, and a disappearing American flag.
Many other mistakes are factual errors such as Lincoln's secretary speaking without his German accent, the President's son Tad - who had a cleft palate - talking perfectly, and an official missing out California during a Congressional roll call of the U.S. states.
Lincoln has been nominated for 12 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director for Steven Spielberg, and Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis.
Day-Lewis, who stars as former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in Spielberg's Oscar-nominated film, has been a major supporter of Ireland's Wicklow Hospice Foundation since his mother lived out her final days under their care in 2009.
And to give the group a boost, the filmmaker has handed over a set of gloves and miniature soldiers featured in the picture, as well as Lincoln's handmade knife, for the organisation's upcoming charity auction.
The items will go under the hammer at the movie's European premiere in Dublin next week (20Jan13), and chairman Brendan Cuddihy is overwhelmed by Spielberg's generosity.
He says, "Props of this quality never come on the market and are closely protected by movie studios. Now that Lincoln is hotly tipped to scoop multi-Academy awards, we're being told the value is even higher."
Lincoln currently leads the 2013 Oscars race with a whopping 12 nominations.
In the real world, copying somebody else's written material for your own personal gain is called plagiarism. In the movie biz, it's called adaptation.
Since 1940, the Academy Awards have distinguished the adapted screenplay in its own category, honoring films whose scripts were derived primarily from books, plays, and short stories. But the occasional Best Adapted Screenplay nominee can credit its source to other media — such is the case for this year's nod, the true story thriller Argo.
Ben Affleck's directorial feature, written by Chris Terrio, was actually born from a WIRED magazine article by journalist and film producer Joshuah Bearman in 2007. The piece, titled "How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran," was a chronicling of CIA operative Tony Mendez's unorthodox plan to retrieve a group of American diplomats from a hostage crisis in Iran in the late 1970s. Bearman penned the article following the declassification of the CIA documents describing the events.
Argo's company in this year's Best Adapted Screenplay category draw from more traditional sources: the scripts for Life of Pi and Silver Linings Playbook each comes from its eponymous novel, written by Yann Martel and Matthew Quick, Respectively; Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner cite the nonfiction book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin as the source for their biopic Lincoln; and the story of Beasts of the Southern Wild writer/director Benh Zeitlin was inspired by his co-writer Lucy Alibar's own play, Juicy and Delicious. Heck, even Argo does accredit some hardcover material with the machination of its script alongside the aforementioned original article (Bearman's book The Great Escape, in which he expands on the topic, and Agent Mendez's own account of the event, his memoirs The Master of Disguise). The category has housed a great majority of projects with roots in the forms of book and play. But there are a handful of interesting outliers, spanning from 1931 all the way to the present...
Skippy (1931): Predating the separate Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay categories, the family-friendly Jackie Cooper starrer was adapted from the syndicated comic strip of the same name.
Mrs. Miniver (1942): The romantic drama about the dawn of World War II drew from a series of columns in Great Britain's The Times newspaper, wherein the titular character Kay Miniver was created.
Boomerang! (1947): The true story of this film noir was first chronicled in a Reader's Digest article by journalist Fulton Oursler (under the pen name Anthony Abbot).
Marty (1955):The classic romantic drama was the first of several films to be adapted from a teleplay — Paddy Chayefsky wrote both the big and small screen versions of the story.
I Want to Live! (1958): Another film noir drawn from true events, this film extrapolated its story about a woman on death row from letters penned by the basis and namesake for its main character, Barbara Graham. A second source for the movie came from a collection of newspaper articles from journalist Ed Montgoomery.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962): The life of British Army officer T.E. Lawrence was chronicled in this classic epic, thanks to the adaptation of the collective writings from the hero himself.
Pennies from Heaven (1981): Ever since Marty, a handful of films has earned nominations for adapting television movies to film; this was the first, however, to earn a nod for adapting a television miniseries (the 1978 BBC drama of the same name).
The Insider (1999): Another film drawn from a magazine article, this time from Marie Brenner's Vanity Fair piece "The Man Who Knew Too Much," about tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand, played in the film by Russell Crowe.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000): Classing up the list a bit is this Coen Brothers comedy, which adapted its script from Homer's epic poem The Odyssey.
Ghost World (2001): The first film to earn a nomination for a script adapted from a graphic novel came from Daniel Clowes, who turned his own comic book Ghost World into this comedy-drama.
Shrek (2001): In the same year, this blockbuster animated film pioneered the category's nomination of a script with another type of source: picture book (William Steig's Shrek!).
American Splendor (2002): The brilliant comedic biopic drew its material from the works of subject Harvey Pekar and his wife and fellow comic book author Joyce Brabner (American Splendor and Our Cancer Years, respectively).
Before Sunset (2004): Richard Linklater's screenplay was considered an adaptation, due to its use of characters from the preceding film Before Sunrise, which was written by Linklater and Kim Krizan.
A History of Violence (2005): Another graphic novel adaptation — screenwriter John Olson brought John Wagner and Vincent Locke's A History of Violence to screen with this picture.
Borat (2006): It might surprise you to recall that the Academy recognized this bawdy film with a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination; the film was considered an adaptation of the character developed by Sacha Baron Cohen for his small screen venture, Da Ali G Show.
In the Loop (2009): In the same vein, Armando Iannucci transported his The Thick of It hero Malcolm Tucker to the big screen in this satirical film.
District 9 (2009): Cutting it a little close to home, this sci-fi drama/parable for human intolerance and oppression was actually adapted from another movie — a short film titled Alive in Joburg.
Toy Story 3 (2010): Borrowing the characters from the original Toy Story, a new assortment of screenwriters vied for the Oscar in this magnificent threequel.
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Daniel Day-Lewis will become the first star to pick up three Best Actor Oscars if he wins gold at the Academy Awards next month (Feb13). He was nominated in the category for his role as President Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln on Thursday (10Jan13) and is a clear favourite to win.
The historical epic will go head-to-head for Best Picture with the likes of Argo, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty and Life of Pi, which trails with 11 nods.
Daniel Day-Lewis, who portrays former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in the movie, scored a mention for Best Actor, while Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones both picked up nods for their supporting roles and Steven Spielberg landed a nomination for Best Director.
It also earned a spot in the Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score categories, while the remainder of Lincoln's nods were for technical achievement, such as film editing and costume design.
The nominations were announced by actress Emma Stone and ceremony host Seth MacFarlane on Thursday (10Jan13), with the winners being unveiled during the Los Angeles prizegiving on 24 February (13).
The complete list is as follows:
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Michael Haneke - Amour
Ang Lee - Life of Pi
David O. Russell - Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg - Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin - Beasts of the Southern Wild
Actor in a Leading Role:
Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln
Hugh Jackman - Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix - The Master
Denzel Washington - Flight
Actress in a Leading Role:
Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva - Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis - Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts - The Impossible
Actor in a Supporting Role:
Alan Arkin - Argo
Robert De Niro - Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln
Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained
Actress in a Supporting Role:
Amy Adams - The Master
Sally Field - Lincoln
Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables
Helen Hunt - The Sessions
Jacki Weaver - Silver Linings Playbook
Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Life Of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Amour - Michael Haneke
Django Unchained - Quentin Tarantino
Flight - John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom - Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty - Mark Boal
Animated Feature Film:
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Foreign Language Film:
A Royal Affair
Before My Time - Chasing Ice
Everybody Needs A Best Friend - Ted
Pi's Lullaby - Life of Pi
Skyfall - Skyfall
Suddenly - Les Miserables
Dario Marianelli - Anna Karenina
Alexandre Desplat - Argo
Mychael Danna - Life of Pi
John Williams - Lincoln
Thomas Newman - Skyfall
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
Marvel's The Avengers
Snow White and the Huntsman
Makeup and Hairstyling:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Seamus McGarvey - Anna Karenina
Robert Richardson - Django Unchained
Claudio Miranda - Life of Pi
Janusz Kaminski - Lincoln
Roger Deakins - Skyfall
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
Jacqueline Durran - Anna Karenina
Paco Delgado - Les Miserables
Joanna Johnston - Lincoln
Eiko Ishioka - Mirror Mirror
Colleen Atwood - Snow White and the Huntsman
5 Broken Cameras
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man
Mondays at Racine
Short Film - Animated:
Adam and Dog
Head over Heels
Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare
Short Film - Live Action:
Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)
William Goldenberg - Argo
Tim Squyres - Life of Pi
Michael Kahn - Lincoln
Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers - Silver Linings Playbook
Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg - Zero Dark Thirty
Life of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty
Life of Pi
The epic drama, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as famed U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, is installed at 8/13 to win BAFTA's Best Film trophy by both leading U.K. bookmakers William Hill and Paddy Power.
Day-Lewis is also set for glory as he is at 4/11 to win in the Leading Actor category, according to Paddy Power odds-makers.
Ben Affleck's turn behind the camera for Argo has installed him as hot favourite for the director prize, and Jennifer Lawrence is also in line for glory - she is at 4/7 to win the Leading Actress honour.
The BAFTA Film Awards will be handed out at a ceremony in London on 10 February (13).
The actor was rewarded for his portrayal of former U.S. leader President Abraham Lincoln in the filmmaker's acclaimed biopic with an award from the New York Film Critics Circle, and Spielberg offered up the letter he received from Day-Lewis as he introduced his leading man to the stage at a gala dinner.
Spielberg lost the Best Director honour to Zero Dark Thirty's Kathryn Bigelow, but he was still smiling as he recalled the snub from the My Left Foot star.
The moviemaker told guests he sent Day-Lewis several drafts of the script for Lincoln before he received a rejection letter.
It read in part: "It was a real pleasure just to sit and talk with you. I listened very carefully to what you had to say about this compelling history, and I've since read the script and found it - in all the detail of which it describes these monumental events and in the compassionate portraits of all the principle characters - both powerful and moving. I can't account for how at any given moment I feel the need to explore one life as opposed to another.
"But I do know that I can only do this work if I feel almost as if there's no choice. That a subject coincides inexplicably with a very personal need and a very specific moment in time. In this case, as fascinated as I was by 'Abe', it was the fascination of a grateful spectator who longed to see a story told rather than that of a participant. That's how I feel now in spite of myself, and though I can't be sure this won't change, I couldn't dream of encouraging you to keep it open on a mere possibility."
Spielberg refused to give up on Day-Lewis and now the actor is the clear favourite to pick up a Best Actor Oscar for his role in Lincoln.
The film, which tells the story of an elderly couple struggling to cope after one of them suffers a stroke, won Best Picture, Best Director for Michael Haneke and Best Actress for 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva.
Oscar front-runner Daniel Day-Lewis took home Best Actor at the annual prizegiving in New York for his portrayal of former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln, while the film's writer, Tony Kushner, won Best Screenplay.
The Best Supporting Actress award went to Amy Adams for her performance in The Master, while Matthew McConaughey earned the Best Supporting Actor award for Magic Mike.
The list of main winners is as follows:
Best Picture: Amour
Best Director: Michael Haneke (Amour)
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Best Actress: Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
Best Supporting Actor: Matthew McConaughey (Magic Mike)
Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams (The Master)
Best Screenplay: Tony Kushner (Lincoln)
Best Nonfiction Film: The Gatekeepers
Best Cinematography: Mihai Malaimare, Jr. (The Master)