Tag Archive: Religion


A previous post I did seemed to attract some viewers interested in details about Daniel Day-Lewis’s life. He is known for his unique method acting often finds it hard to separate himself from his character. Rumors circulated that while filming My Left Foot he refused to get up from his wheelchair often requiring the staff to carry and spoon feed him. This behavior may seem a little eccentric but it has ushered some great performances. He mentions in an interview with CinemaBlend.com he finds it hard to say goodbye to some of his characters.

It seems Daniel can adapt any character with great intensity but reserves his private life from the media. He carefully chooses his roles and has a reputation for dropping out of the entertainment industry with large time gaps between films.

Daniel Day-Lewis seems very connected with the characters that he creates and that it can be quite eerie at times. His public persona reflects an articulate person with an interesting upbringing.

There Will Be Blood reflected a lot of religious themes. Daniel did not like that interruption, noting that it was too broad. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal Daniel stated, “People already have made certain connections and invited us to think about it almost as if it’s a parable, a cautionary tale, a story that somehow has a clear reflection in our contemporary world,” he says. “But our work is a much narrower field of focus. And it’s vital for us that we, that in telling our story, we do it only with the intention of 096_daniel_day_lewis.jpgtrying to imagine that world, to create that very particular world, that very particular society within that world.”

Details on his own religious beliefs are scarce. He was born Posh, Jewish, and Irish but grew up in London. His Irish heritage attracted him to work on In the Name of the Father. He told the Wall Street Journal, “I did believe very strongly in the importance of telling that story about the Guildford Four, and probably my raising, my education, my cultural background led me to that place. But I choose not to dwell upon that when I’m working .”

Daniel Day-Lewis seems to maintain his religious beliefs have little to do with choosing the role in There Will Be Blood. He has mentioned in an interview from 2002 with poet Eileen Myles he considered himself agnostic.

Eileen Myers: Do you believe in god?
Daniel Day-Lewis: I’m still not sure. I suppose I’m a die-hard agnostic. I don’t know. Do you?
EM: I think I do, because I like the feeling of saying so. I grew up very educated to believe — Catholic School and all that. I bumped up against religion again some years later, and took it on when I would take anything on. Then I just started to think, “Maybe I do believe.” I like praying.
DDL: I never took the habit.
EM: The habit of prayer or the habit of religion?
DDL: I certainly prayed from time to time, but it was not something that I was brought up to do. We prayed at school, but I had no real religious education. Most of my contemporaries in Ireland are ferocious lapsed Catholics who exercise as much energy in despising the religion as they would in staying with it — it’s a full-time job. I think I’m a pagan, probably. If I ever took to religion it would probably be pre-Christian, but I’m quite ritualistic about clothes.

Edit: I am not quite sure what the interest has been behind his religion. It either is the themes of There Will Be Blood or Daniel Day-Lewis’s response to anti-gay protesters reacting to tributes to Heath Ledger for his role in Brokeback Mountain.

Daniel told the press, “We should leave [Heath] alone and we should leave his family alone to suffer their unimaginable grief in private and it’s not going to happen”.

He felt that the best way to stop the protesters was to ignore their demonstration. He said, “We should just stop encouraging people to have greater and greater interest in raking over every detail, which is none of our business anyhow.”

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There Will Be Blood and The Golden Compass show that religion is a touchy subject in film. The religious and parental banning of books and films has been a constant battle against artistic integrity. There really is no art without politics.blbig.jpg

There Will Be Blood features an outstanding performance by Daniel Day-Lewis as an pioneer oilman in the 1920s. The film assimilates Daniel’s growing business to the budding career of a fanatical televangelist-like preacher, Eli. I think this article got the message half right. It pits Eli and Plainview on opposite ends of the spectrum, one a self-serving atheist and the other a radical Christian. A few characters, like Plainview’s son H.W. , manage a middle road of virtue.

The movie upset a small percentage of movie-goers because of its negative display of Eli as a religious figure. Essentially the message is that evil exists on both sides of the spectrum. H.W. and his wife are morally sound people who chose to live a moderate life. The couple are involved in a church which appears from the short clip of their wedding to be Catholic.

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Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials series and an “outspoken British atheist”, is accused of being “anti-God, anti-religion, or anti-Christians”. The story, The Golden Compass, follows a young girl, Lyra Belzqua, as she attempts to save her kidnapped friend and unravels the corruption of the Magistrium. The movie did not fare too well in theaters, which Christian fundamentalist like to take credit for. The protest centered around the idea that children may not have the cognitive capacity to recognize the difference between the corrupt “Magistrate” and its connection with the Vatican leaders.

Critics feared the possibility of a sequel because the last install The Amber Spyglass evidently kills a character named God. The author claimed the intention was to show the corruption of religious groups when they gain absolute political control. The character God in the book is supposed to represent a false deity.

I love this quote from comedian Jim Gaffigan, “Have you ever read a book that changed your life? -Neither have I.” Movies have the same idea.

The point of film is to see a new perspective of an issue, not completely change everyone’s mind. If a person’s opinion can be swayed by a two hour presentation, namely a film, it was not that important to them in the first place.

Edit: A lot of readers seem to be looking for Daniel Day-Lewis’s personal religion. He was born Jewish according to this thorough biography. I am not sure if that is merely his heritage or his religion. There was no mention of whether he practiced the faith or not. He lives quite a turbulent life with a diverse dating record and a avid hatred of the press.

I decided to further investigate into his life and religious affiliation in an updated post, Daniel Day-Lewis On Religion.