Daniel Day-Lewis: ‘I am sad over my retirement’


Daniel Day-Lewis is still experiencing a deep sense of sadness after announcing his retirement from acting this summer.

The Lincoln star released a statement about his decision to permanently walk away from the cameras back in June (17), and only now has he expanded on the responsibility he feels towards his profession and how it affected his big announcement.

“I haven’t figured out (why I want to retire),” he tells W magazine, “but it’s settled on me, and it’s just there. Not wanting to see (my last) film (Phantom Thread) is connected to the decision I’ve made to stop working as an actor. But it’s not why the sadness came to stay. That happened during the telling of the story, and I don’t really know why…”

“I dread to use the overused word artist, but there’s something of the responsibility of the artist that hung over me,” he continues. “I need to believe in the value of what I’m doing. The work can seem vital. Irresistible, even. And if an audience believes it, that should be good enough for me. But, lately, it isn’t.”

Lewis has taken long breaks in between films in the past and has often spoken about retiring, but he understands why his decision to release an official statement may have come as a surprise to many.

“I knew it was uncharacteristic to put out a statement,” he continues, “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.”

However, he is still wrestling with his feelings about retirement.

“Do I feel better?” he says. “Not yet. I have great sadness. And that’s the right way to feel. How strange would it be if this was just a gleeful step into a brand-new life. 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.”