Daniel Day-Lewis was born and raised in London, England, though he attended boarding schools outside of London after the age of 11.
Day-Lewis’ heritage is mixed: Irish Protestant on his father’s side and Eastern European Jewish on his mother’s side. And his father, poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis, was the son of an Anglican minister.
However, it doesn’t appear that Day-Lewis was raised particularly devoutly in either faith. He said:
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.
So what does that make him today? When asked if he believes in God during an interview in 2002, Day-Lewis responded:
I’m still not sure. I suppose I’m a die-hard agnostic. I don’t know. Do you?
However, if he were to choose a religion, Day-Lewis has said that it would be Pagan of some kind, definitely something pre-Christian… because he’s so ritualistic about his clothing.
In summary: part Jewish, part Protestant, self-proclaimed agnostic and potential Pagan. It’s a mouthful, isn’t it?
Day-Lewis can talk politics, but his comments aren’t necessarily ideological, and he doesn’t really want to talk about it. In fact, this star is notoriously private. Referring to his stardom and people’s interest in his views, he said:
Initially it was invigorating. People suddenly wanted to hear my views on all manner of social problems. I was up for it but it palled very soon afterwards.
Day-Lewis is an international man, holding dual citizenship in both England and Ireland–both countries he claims to love and call home. However, he does much of his work in the U.S., aspects of which he also proclaims to love. Comparing England and the U.S., he said:
England is obsessed with where you came from, and they are determined to keep you in that place, be it in a drawing room or in the gutter. The great tradition of liberalism in England is essentially a sponge that absorbs all possibility of change. America looked different to me: the idea of America as a place of infinite possibilities was defined for me through the movies.
Could that be a condemnation of the welfare state? That would be my interpretation, but I’d like to hear yours in the comments.
In the U.S. political arena, Day-Lewis is, at the very least, aware of what’s going on. He commented on the difficulties and pressures of Obama’s presidency, poked a little fun at Clint Eastwood’s infamous “invisible Obama” performance at the 2012 Republican National Convention and after making a film about Abraham Lincoln, Day-Lewis commented that modern-day politics was too influenced by television. He said:
The difference [between political life in Lincoln’s time and today] was made by the standardized machine of television, which reduces everything to platitudes and simple pictures.
That’s the kind of astute critique of media and politics that reveals Day-Lewis as an observer of people and society, something that probably contributes to him being such a great actor.