Daniel Day-Lewis bows out with twisted romance ‘Phantom Thread’

Published: Updated:

Director Paul Thomas Anderson calls his movie “Phantom Thread” a romance, but its star Daniel Day-Lewis said that filming it made him so sad he decided to quit acting.

Triple Oscar winner Day-Lewis plays fastidious 1950s London fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock whose self-centered life is disrupted when his latest muse, Alma (played by newcomer Vicky Krieps), falls in love with him and matters take an unexpected and sinister twist.

The movie, arriving in US theaters on Dec. 25, took two years to research and write in what Anderson says was a collaborative effort with Day-Lewis.

“It was always my intention to make a romantic film. The kind of things we talked about are the classic gothic romances like ‘Rebecca,’ ‘Gaslight’ and ‘Vertigo’,” Anderson said.

“‘Vertigo’ is really about obsession and that fever that comes over you when romance comes your way ... (The movie) gets pretty complicated and peculiar, as love does,” he added.

British-born Day-Lewis, known for his meticulous preparation, threw himself into the project, studying for months with designers and making a couture dress himself.

“Everything in the House of Woodcock was so particular - what chair, what silverware, what teacup. You have to involve Daniel in every aspect of that. There isn’t a piece of furniture or wall covering that hasn’t been approved (by him),” Anderson said.

Yet after filming was completed, Day-Lewis, 60, shocked the movie world in June by announcing, without explanation, that he was retiring as an actor.

In an interview with W magazine last month, the only man to have won three lead actor Oscars said the decision was directly related to shooting “Phantom Thread.”

“Before making the film, I didn’t know I was going to stop acting. 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,” Day-Lewis told the magazine.

That sadness has stayed with him, he said. “That happened during the telling of the story, and I don’t really know why.”

Lesley Manville, who plays the fictional Woodcock’s co-dependent sister, said the movie’s driving theme is “the human condition, and how we all respond to and deal with love and the lack of love.”

“Phantom Thread” goes into Hollywood’s awards season with two Golden Globe nominations and more than 20 awards from film critics groups in North America.