How Daniel Day-Lewis got into acting

Before becoming a well-known actor in the '80s, the future leading man was paid to bust up cars on film as a youth.

Actor was hired to play a young hooligan in a 1971 film

Daniel Day-Lewis's first movie role

34 years ago
Duration 4:01
In 1988 the British actor describes getting paid to be a young hooligan on film.

Before becoming a well-known actor in the '80s, future leading man Daniel Day-Lewis was paid to bust up cars on film as a youth.

"Let's go back ... to when you were 12 years old," said the CBC's Sue Prestedge, interviewing Day-Lewis on Midday on Jan. 29, 1988. "A perfect little nasty kid for [the 1971 movie] Sunday, Bloody Sunday.

"Did you say to yourself, 'Eureka! I've found what I'm going to do for the rest of my life.'?"

At the time, Day-Lewis had starred in My Beautiful Laundrette and A Room with a View, both released in 1986, and was promoting 1988's The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

He has since won three Academy Awards for his acting in the films There Will Be Blood, In the Name of the Father and My Left Foot. His last film before announcing his retirement as an actor was 2017's Phantom Thread.

"What do you think?" answered Day-Lewis, smiling broadly at the memory. 

"We were employed, a group of young hooligans ... by the local greengrocer," he said. "Someone had said to her, can you gather them together and give them a ball." 

He explained they'd been paid £2 a day to kick the ball around before three of the "nastiest-looking" kids were singled out for a "special job."

"We were equipped with broken milk bottles and ushered to a line of Jaguars and Bentleys and Rolls-Royces. It was like a dream."

The Internet Movie Database entry for Sunday, Bloody Sunday notes the role as Child Vandal (uncredited). 

"But I can't say that at that time it sort of occurred to me that this was a beginning in film," said Day-Lewis.

Actor Daniel Day-Lewis arrives at the Oscars at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

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