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No One Can Coax Daniel Day-Lewis Back to Acting, and Streaming Is Partially to Blame

Despite Martin Scorsese teasing a possible collaboration with his “Gangs of New York” star Daniel Day-Lewis, the famed Oscar-winning Method actor is still firmly retired, according to director Jim Sheridan.

Sheridan worked with Day-Lewis on “My Left Foot,” “In the Name of the Father,” and “The Boxer,” with “My Left Foot” landing Day-Lewis one of his three Best Actor Academy Awards. Day-Lewis officially announced his retirement from acting in 2017 with Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread” as his last film.

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“He says he’s done. I keep talking to him,” Sheridan told ScreenDaily. “I’d love to do something with him again. It’d be great to see Daniel coming back and doing something because he’s so good.”

You know what’s not “so good”? Streaming content — and that medium’s takeover has (further) soured the serious actor on the entertainment business, Sheridan said.

“He’s like everybody else,” Sheridan said. “He fires up a streaming service and there’s “7,000 choices, none of them are good. Film has been moved out of the public domain into a private domain: You have a remote, you can stop it. It’s not the same experience.”

Day-Lewis did not take his decision to retire lightly. At the time, he said he a “great sadness” about hanging it up. His representative put out a statement reading: “Daniel Day-Lewis will no longer be working as an actor. He is immensely grateful to all of his collaborators and audiences over the many years. This is a private decision and neither he nor his representatives will make any further comment on this subject.”

Day-Lewis later told W Magazine that while it was “uncharacteristic” to make an announcement of that kind, he “did want to draw a line” between his personal life and professional career.

“I didn’t want to get sucked back into another project,” Day-Lewis said. “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.”

Auteurs took the decision perhaps harder than the actor.

“Once I’ve worked with somebody, I really want to work with them again and again,” Anderson told Variety in 2021. “We can all get together and hope he’ll come back. Wouldn’t it be great? When ‘Phantom Thread’ came out, I was asked about it a lot, and I feel the same way now that I did then. Yes, I’m greedy like everybody else. I want more Daniel Day-Lewis performances. But I also think he’s given us more than enough, and we should stop being so greedy. He’s the king.”

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