Saturday, February 16, 2008

There Will Be Beauty

Daniel Day-Lewis is not only one of the greatest actors of all time and definitely the best of this generation, but he's also one of the world's most compassionate and beautiful human beings. As if his massive talent wasn't enough to make me love him, he's so humble and gracious and classy. And he gives the most wonderful acceptance speeches. I'm mesmerized every time he speaks.

But what I'm particularly touched by lately is his reaction to Heath Ledger's death. Daniel Day-Lewis is such a sensitive person. I think you need to be in order to be the kind of dedicated method actor he is. He feels things more deeply than most people. I like to think that I do, too. I'm still in mourning over Heath Ledger and can't bring myself to write my tribute and deal with the closure.

Daniel Day-Lewis hardly ever does interviews, but he appeared on Oprah for her post-nomination special featuring some of the nominees. His was the first interview. He talked very modestly and eloquently about his performance in There Will Be Blood, and also very gratefully about Paul Thomas Anderson and the public's reaction to the film. It's a nine minute interview, and he was noticeably melancholy and distracted for the first half. He wasn't rude at all. He was totally polite and great, but you could tell something was bothering him. At around the five and a half minute point, he interrupted the interview to acknowledge how deeply upset he was about Heath Ledger's death. He paused, got really flustered, rubbed his forehead, and looked down, his face a map of his pain, and he apologized to Oprah because there was something he wanted to say.

I actually taped the interview off my TV with my video camera and uploaded it, but I admit that I'm very fearful of Oprah and her copyright infringement police, so I'm not going to post it. These photos are screenshots from it, though. I believe they show a very poignant progression of his feelings.

So, instead, here's what he said, word for word, stuttering and all, just to convey how emotional and choked up he was:

"I'm sorry, Oprah. Something, I hope you don't mind, if I-if I-if I speak about this, but there's something I - I feel very unsettled, um, at the moment, and I suppose it's cause I only just saw the news about Heath Ledger's death. And um, it just seems - it seems somehow strange to be talking about anything else. Uh, not that there's anything to say, really, except to express one's regret and-and to - and to say from the bottom of one's heart, um, to-to-to his family and to his friends that I'm-I'm sorry for their trouble. I didn't know him. Uh, I have an impression, a strong impression, I would have liked him very much as a man if I-if I had. I'd already marveled at some of his work and had looked forward so much to seeing the work that he would do in the future, so..."

At this point, Day-Lewis got really choked up - you could hear it in his voice and he trailed off, nodding and licking his lips nervously, face twitching with grief, and looked down. There were tears in his eyes. It's so incredibly moving.

Oprah is an automoton who could care less about Heath Ledger, and she thanked Day-Lewis awkwardly for saying that and callously mentioned something about waiting for the autopsy results.

Day-Lewis continued: "Thank you, Oprah. I do pray to God that-that they allow his-his family, particularly, and his friends to-to grieve in the way that they need to, uh, in the weeks and-and months to come because this is something they're going to be living with, obviously, for the rest of their life."

Oprah's response: "Yeah."

Then, she decided the time for expressing human emotions was over, and after her profound "yeah," she said: "So let me ask one final question about, uh, uh, about the Oscar." Nice segway, Oprah. Smooth. Daniel Day-Lewis stumbling over his words? The result of him overflowing with sadness, emotion, respect, and compassion. Oprah stumbling over her words? The result of ignorance. They may have copyright laws in place prohibiting people posting videos of her show, but they can't do anything about my first amendment-protected free speech on here and my opinion of her. I think she's a conceited, self-aggrandizing, mindless idiot. Copyright that.

Daniel Day-Lewis' appearance on Oprah was one of the most moving things I've ever seen. I didn't think he could be any more amazing than that. I was wrong. Here's a video I can
post. It's Daniel Day-Lewis, almost a week later, still visibly shaken and saddened (you can see it when they cut away to him after his clip), dedicating his SAG award to Heath Ledger.

This is such a beautiful speech that it makes me want to weep. I was definitely misty-eyed during it. I was astounded by his selflessness and sincerity. Simply amazing and so powerful.

And he had had this to say to the media after the SAG awards:

I love this man. I don't think people come any better than Daniel Day-Lewis. None of this is for attention or to gain popularity or for any selfish reasons. He's totally genuine. That's something you don't see every day, especially not in Hollywood. Daniel Day-Lewis said everything about Heath Ledger that I've felt for weeks and didn't know how to say. That's why I'm particularly touched by his actions. He is the embodiment of class and grace. In fact, he's my hero. What a great man.

Daniel Day-Lewis has a heart as big as his talent.

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