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Despite his traditional actor training at the Bristol Old Vic, he is considered to be a method actor, known for his constant devotion to and research of his roles.

Day-Lewis shifted between theatre and film for most of the early 1980s, joining the Royal Shakespeare Company and playing Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and Flute in A Midsummer Night's Dream, before appearing in the 1984 film The Bounty.

He cuts a somewhat unlikely figure in these ornate and distinctly moneyed environs, and merits barely a flicker of recognition from those around him as he edges his way through the power-dressed throng to the hotel bar.

There, in a lilting Irish accent, he orders a pint of Guinness, which he drinks alone on a barstool while studiously avoiding eye contact with his well-heeled fellow guests.

He's the Oscar-winning son of a poet laureate who was linked to some of the world's most beautiful women before his marriage to American literary royalty.

In his first interview for three years, Daniel Day-Lewis talks to Nick Duerden about his acting methods, off-screen obsessions and his seemingly gilded life He looms up larger than life, encased very nearly head to toe in leather and rubber, and extends a bony hand in welcome.

In November 2012, Time named Day-Lewis the "World's Greatest Actor." His father, who was born in Ballintubbert, County Laois, Ireland, was of Protestant Anglo-Irish and English background, lived in England from the age of two, and later became the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom.

Though often compared to fellow Brit Laurence Olivier, Day-Lewis instead took his cues from the raw, aggressive loners of 1970s American cinema, namely Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro, in adapting a Method-style of acting.

After gaining notice with his performances in "My Beautiful Laundrette" (1985) and "The Unbearable Likeness of Being" (1988), Day-Lewis developed a reputation for fully delving into his characters, often to the point of making their experiences his own - like staying in a wheelchair all day and being spoon fed like the real-life Christy Brown, the Irish writer and painter with cerebral palsy, in "My Left Foot" (1989).

While he may have learned to track animals to play a frontiersman in "Last of the Mohicans" (1993) and lived in a prison cell to play an accused IRA bomber in "In the Name of the Father" (1993), it was highly doubtful Day-Lewis turned into a savage murderer for his Oscar-nominated turn as Bill the Butcher in "Gangs of New York" (2002).

Nonetheless, Day-Lewis' focus on craft was palpable onscreen - again evidenced in his acclaimed leading performance in "Lincoln" (2012) - earning him yet another Oscar and the respect of all actors for being one of the most deeply committed thespians of his generation.