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7 Oscar Nominated Roles You Mistakenly Thought Were Played by Someone Else but Were Really Played by Daniel Day-Lewis.

Updated on February 3, 2020
Noel Penaflor7 profile image

I Wrote my First Movie Review While Giving Birth to a Camera. It has followed me ever since. Please don't mind the Mess.

He's been flagged.
He's been flagged.

Now that 3-time Oscar Winner Daniel Day-Lewis has been retired for a little over a year, it seems like the perfect time to share with you a secret that Hollywood doesn’t want you to know. Never wanted you to know.

Why? Possibly because they thought you wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Possibly because they knew you wouldn’t believe it. Then you’d search your heart and realize it was true. It was all true.

If they lied to you about this, then what else could they be lying to you about? Possibly everything.

It’s only after minutes of research that I was able to cobble these facts together. At first, like you, I didn’t want to believe it. Didn’t think it was possible. But it all fell together, like pieces of a puzzle that stand up and fall like dominoes once you start finding the truth and maybe another vague and mixed metaphor.

To quote a line from a famous movie, they didn’t think you could “handle the truth.”

I think you could, but you must be sure. If you want your illusions shattered, then read on. If you want to keep living in your self-induced fog, stop reading right now, order yourself a pizza, eat the whole thing by yourself, and forget everything you’ve read here today.

He is both the cake and the candles. What is that other guy looking at when he should be looking at the candle blower?
He is both the cake and the candles. What is that other guy looking at when he should be looking at the candle blower?

Here it goes…

Daniel Day-Lewis is/was such a great actor, he played other actors playing other roles.

Take a breath. I know it’s a lot to take in.

In his filmography, you’d see years between roles and you’d think he was always just reluctant to go back to Hollywood and into the studio system where he’d have to balance art and commerce and all the soul-killing things that go with it.

The truth is, he’d just act like another actor and do roles that he wouldn’t even be considered for because of his gender, age, skin color.

That kind of thing would hamper any other actor. But not Daniel Day-Lewis.

These roles are proof that he was and is a better actor than we ever gave him credit for.

1) Muse in Captain Phillips (2013)

Originally believed played by Barkhad Abdi.

Cap could wipe them out with one exhale.
Cap could wipe them out with one exhale.
Tom Hanks
Captain Philips
Catherine Keener
Andrea Philips
Daniel Day-Lewis

If you remember back in 2013, non-actor Barkhad Abdi got his first Oscar Nomination for his first role as the Muse, leader of the pirates in Captain Phillips. That was wrong. Abdi just watched DDL do the role while he took notes. Abdi said those notes, and DDL’s invaluable advice, helped him when he’d do subsequent auditions and you’ve seen Abdi in countless roles since.

But the one in Captain Phillips, that was DDL. He took the role simply because he wanted to work with Tom Hanks and also wanted to ride in a big boat. He improvised the “I am the captain now”, line that was in all the trailers.

Tom Hanks just read this and is in complete awe.

2) Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

Originally believed played by Alec Guinness.

The Force is with DDL.
The Force is with DDL.
Mark Hamill
Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford
Han Solo
Carrie Fisher
Princess Leia Organa
Daniel Day-Lewis
Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi

There’s a reason during his life Alec Guinness never really liked, nay, hated playing Obi-Wan. He never really did as he and DDL concocted a ruse while filming. Say you hate it so people will be reluctant to ask you about it and I, Daniel Day-Lewis, can go about playing Obi-Wan and never have to be asked about it during interviews.

The reason DDL wanted the role of Obi-Wan was to wear a thick brown robe and hang out in the desert sun. That he got to wield a lightsaber was a plus and he still has that lightsaber to this day.

An actual working lightsaber. Not a prop.

3) Mattie Ross in True Grit (2010)

Originally believed played by Hailee Steinfeld.

She could fit all those credits on her outfit.
She could fit all those credits on her outfit.
Jeff Bridges
Rooster Cogburn
Daniel Day-Lewis
Mattie Ross
Matt Damon
Josh Brolin
Tom Chaney

Daniel Day-Lewis took the role of Mattie Ross because it checked off a lot of boxes. He was a fan of both Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges and had always wanted to work with them. You’d think he would be a fan of both Coen Brothers, but he was only a fan of one of them. He liked Joel but always thought Ethan was a little sketchy and flew around like a hummingbird. He took the role on the condition that Ethan never look him in the eye or massage his feet when his feet needed massaging. His experience in The Last of the Mohicans made him want to ride a horse in a film again and Grit provided him with the opportunity. And he always wanted to play a 10-year old girl with pigtails.

It goes without saying it was dream role for DDL. When he feels like it, he wears the pigtails in heartfelt nostalgia.

4) Reynolds Woodcock in Phantom Thread (2017)

Originally believed to be played by Daniel Day-Lewis.

Vicky Krieps
Daniel Day-Lewis
Reynolds Woodcock
Lesley Manville

You think that playing someone else is tough. What about playing your clone who is also playing a character. That’s what DDL did in Paul Thomas Anderson’s fancy dress movie Phantom Thread. You think you’re watching Daniel Day-Lewis act. You’re wrong. You’re watching him portray his clone. DDL and PTA took moral and scientific shortcuts in order to clone Lewis. Was it worth it? If you like Phantom Thread, then yes it was. Watch it scene by scene. Are you watching the real DDL? Or the cloned DDL? Or the real DDL playing the cloned DDL?

Only your dressmaker knows for sure.

5) Rocky Balboa in Creed (2015)

Originally believed to be played by Sylvester Stallone.

The resemblance is uncanny.
The resemblance is uncanny.
Michael B. Jordan
Adonis Creed
Daniel Day-Lewis
Rocky Balboa
Tessa Thompson

After playing Rocky in 6 previous movies, Sylvester Stallone sat Creed out because he a had a ruptured skull and would not be healed in time for the principal photography to begin. Having already played a boxer in The Boxer, Day-Lewis signed up to play Rocky because he thought it was would be fun. It took him 2 weeks to get into fighting shape and to look like Rocky Balboa. Michael B. Jordan thought it was Stallone and was finally let in on the ruse during the press junket. Jordan had a hearty laugh after finding out and shared a bowl of soup with Lewis. Tomato soup.

Stallone did play Rocky again in Creed 2 just so he could do the Ivan Drago scenes.

6) Laura Brown in The Hours (2002) and Clarissa Vaughan in The Hours (2002).

Originally believed to be played by Julianne Moore. Originally believed to be played by Meryl Streep. (respectively)

You get extra credit for watching this.
You get extra credit for watching this.
Nicole Kidman
Virginia Woolf
Daniel Day-Lewis
Laura Brown
Daniel Day-Lewis
Clarissa Vaughan
John C. Reilly
Dan Brown

Nicole Kidman may have won the Oscar for her role as Virginia Woolf, but DDL pulled double duty in both Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep’s roles. Why? Moore spent most of the time bowling at the local alley where she won numerous local awards and Meryl Streep trained in the ancient and deadly ways of the ninja.

Meryl Streep AKA Shadow Death recorded over 17 kills in her time as a paid ninja assassin, including the now-declassified Orinda Bowl Buffet massacre.

Closing Thoughts

Daniel Day-Lewis says he’s retired but can any of us really be sure. Just this summer, we saw Octavia Spencer play an unhinged woman in Ma, Godzilla play a giant lizard in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and all new iteration of Chucky in Child’s Play.

Can we ever truly know?

4 stars for Daniel Day-Lewis

What's Your Favorite Daniel Day-Lewis Role that you Didn’t Know was Daniel Day-Lewis

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