Daniel Day-Lewis explains why he retired from acting and talks about depression

Actor announces his retirement in June

Daniel Day-Lewis has opened up about his decision to quit acting, explaining that his final film Phantom Thread left him engulfed in depression.

Back in June, the Oscar-winning British actor – known for his roles in movies like Gangs of New York and There Will Be Blood – released a statement confirming that upcoming Paul Thomas Anderson movie Phantom Thread would be his last film.

“Before making the film, I didn’t know I was going to stop acting,” Day-Lewis told W Magazine. “I do know that Paul and I laughed a lot before we made the movie. And then we stopped laughing because we were both overwhelmed by a sense of sadness. That took us by surprise: We didn’t realise what we had given birth to. It was hard to live with. And still is.”

Day-Lewis has thought about retiring before, but insisted that this time the decision is final. “What has taken over in the past is an illusion of inevitability,” Day-Lewis said. “But it’s settled on me, and it’s just there. Not wanting to see the 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 added. “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.”

Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day-Lewis

Addressing the shock news of his retirement, Day-Lewis said: “I knew it was uncharacteristic to put out a statement, 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.”

Speaking about his retired life, Day-Lewis said: “Do I feel better? 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 theatre – 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.”

On rumours that he might become a fashion designer, Day-Lewis laughed and said: “Who knows? I won’t know which way to go for a while. But I’m not going to stay idle. I don’t fear the stony silence.”

Watch a trailer for Phantom Thread herePaul Thomas Anderson has talked about reuniting with Day-Lewis for the film.

Phantom Thread will be released on Christmas Day (December 25).