Actor DANIEL DAY-LEWIS suffers for his art and he certainly took several powerful blows to the head while making The Boxer. Director Jim Sheridan and former world champ Barry McGuigan shed light on this obsessively private man who refuses to pull
his punches. 1233s: Alan Morrison
\\'llli.\' R()BliR'l' l)li .\'lR() stepped into the ring for Raging Bull. the story of the excessiye weight lte put on to match his real-life character became legendary. Similar anecdotes about notorious attention to detail surround Daniel Day-Lewis. He bttilt a house with period tools for The (‘rmi/ilt' and catnped out in the rough like a true frontiersman for The Lust ()/"I'/i<' .lIu/u't'uns. Now he's going to pttnishing lengths to bring blow-by-blow reality to the screen in The Bitter.
'Yeah. Daniel got hurt in the training] admits the film’s boxing consultant and former \VBA World Featherweight (‘hampion Barry .\lc(ittigan. 'liyery day l wottld wipe blood off his nose and his lips.‘
l‘or l)ay-l.ewis. this was a small price to pay for attthenticity. The Buyer marks the third time the enigmatic and intensely priyate actor has worked with director .litn Slteridan. following the Oscar-winning .lly' l.(f/i l-im/ and the controycrsial In The Name (2/. The l'ill/H’I'. Like its predecessor. The [inter also deals with the 'l‘roubles in Northern Ireland. btit from a contemporary and unusually optimistic perspectiye.
Day-Lewis plays Danny l5lynn. a young man returning to the Republican commttnity in Belfast where he grew tip after fourteen years in jail for lR.'\ actiyities. .-\|l Danny wants to do is rebttild his life maybe get a gyut going for the local youngsters and rekindle his relationship with Maggie (BI‘t’tl/x‘fllt" T/It’ lliit‘t's's limily‘ Watson). the childhood sweetheart who is now unhappily married to another IRA prisoner. The community is split met the peace process. Some know it‘s time to end the Violence; others cannot face liying alongside those responsible for their children‘s deaths.
‘The metaphor of the boxing seems to work may well for the conflict because it‘s lighting. bttt within certain rules.‘ says the film‘s director .lim Sheridan. '\\'hy do we abandon the conflict at the boxing match'.’ It‘s like a primitiye church where baser religions are allowed to play.‘
In the film. attempts are made to leaye ('atholic and Protestant riyalt'ies at the door when cheering on the local boy. That‘s a situation all too familiar to .\lc(iuigan —- a (‘atholic married to a Protestant v- whose
slogan before his retirement in l‘)‘)() was ‘l.ea\'e the lighting to .\lc(iuigan'.
"l‘his is an anti-war moyie and an anti- sectarian motie. and I suppose that was important to me.‘ he explains. "l‘hat's why I fottght under the flag of peace. I knew there were certain people who didn't like the idea that I didn't wear green. white and gold. But most of the people generally understood that it
was a sensitiye time and it was important for
me to get the ttnity of both sides..
The rough initial idea of Sheridan's film was for a biopic of .\lc(iuigan. bttt that quickly fell tltrottglt. and only a few common elements remain. But the man who now makes a lit'ing as a commentator on satellite teleyision remained closcly inyolyed with the project and was on hand to take l)ay-l.ewis through his paces.
‘lle engrossed himself in it totally.‘ .\lc(iuigan says of his surprisingly apt pupil.
‘V'ery quickly he was as good as the other
professionals. and they ended up haying wars in the gym. .-\nd I mean wars. Back in l‘)‘)5. l
yolatile. short-term relationships. lle dumped l’rench actress Isabelle .-\d_iani w hen she was seyen months pregnant. attd is rumoured to hate let girlfriend l)eya l’ichardo know their affair was met only (l/lt’l' marrying Rebecca .\li|ler. daughter of playwright Arthur.
Questions to his colleagues are tmiformly met with a polite fob-off to respect Daniel‘s priyacy. bttt Sheridan makes an interesting obsert'ation when asked if the manner in which Day-Lewis ‘liyes‘ his roles ltas meant each film they make is like working with a different actor.
‘lt‘s definitely like working with a different (-lmrm'n'r. but essentially the same person.' he says. before making an off—the- record cottttncttt abottt how l)ay-l.ewis always takes on something of the personality of the woman he is with at the time. “Myself atid Daniel are a contbination and I always think he‘s more of it than I am. He‘s probably technically the best actor iii the world. yery focused and together; and I’m kind of chaotic and gregarious. He makes it botlt yery simple
'Yeah, Daniel got hurt in the training. Every day I would wipe blood off his nose and his lips.’ Barry McGuigan
said. “Daniel. it doesn‘t hate to be this tough. I can make it easier". But he said. “I can‘t simulate what a lighter goes throttglt. I can‘t understand what it‘s like for them unless I go through with proper full-on sparring". lle sparred abotit 3()() rounds in total. full—on heavy duty.
‘lle's a tall. elegant guy. athletic and very fit.' .\lc(}uigan continues. ‘llis style lends itself to a boxer rather than a fighter. but I realised that he's got the killer instinct. You catt draw your own conclusions what that means. bttt I know what it means as far as fighters are concerned. He‘s got real yenom and nastiness in his pttnches. If you eliminate the top ten middleweights in l'K. I would hate no hesitation in pttttittg him in there against the remaining 25 professionalsf
Day-Lewis is one of those actors who seems to have a chameleon-like ability to transform himself with each new role. In rare interviews. he git-es nothing away abottt his life off screen. which has beett filled with
for me and yery tough - because he‘s so intense.~
\Vitlt eyeryone speaking for him. it’s only fair that the last word goes to l)ay-l.ewis himself. Has be chosen his profession as a means of lighting inner dctnons'.’ The time he fled the stage dttring a production of Hum/('1 dttc to the psychological pressure of combining the King's ghost with his own dead father does indicate an actor whose priyate obsessions driye his performances.
‘Bosing brings fear out into the open in a yery clear wayf he says of this film. ‘lt pttts you in an enclosed space where you confront things that are fearful. face-to-face with someone trying to httrt you.”
ll acting can pt‘oyide the same sense of combat and catharsis for Day-Lewis. then he will continue to be crowned yictor on the cinema screen.
The Boxer goes on general release from Fri 20 Mar.
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