Daniel Day-Lewis five facts: The man beneath Lincoln’s Stovepipe hat

Daniel Day-Lewis may just be the greatest actor alive, but he might also be the most private. Though we don't know much about the man, specifically when it comes to his acting process, what we do know certainly makes us want to know more. Of course, we definitely know that Day-Lewis is the current Oscar front-runner for his shape-shifting performance as the title character in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," expanding wide this weekend, but here are five facts about the two-time Oscar winner you might not know.

Mythic Method

1. Day-Lewis's method acting practices have reached mythic proportions, so much so that a Tumblr is devoted to poking fun at just how immersive his process is.For example, in order to play disabled Irish writer and painter Christy Brown in "My Left Foot" (1989), Day-Lewis spent eight weeks at a clinic for cerebral palsy patients, remained in a wheelchair throughout shooting except for being carried to and from his various marks, and insisted on being spoon fed. For his efforts, Day-Lewis broke two ribs, but he also won his first best-actor Oscar. http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/my-left-foot/

[Related: Exclusive 'Lincoln' Q&A with Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis]


2. To play the frontiersman Hawkeye in Michael Mann's "The Last of the Mohicans" (1992), Day-Lewis lived as an 18th-century American Indian might. While spending days at a time in the Alabama wilderness, Day-Lewis learned how to track, hunt, and skin animals. He learned how to build canoes, huck a tomahawk, and shoot his trusty flintlock rifle, an accessory that became his constant companion -- even during Christmas dinner, reportedly. "If he didn't shoot it, he didn't eat it," Mann told Time magazine.

Good Genes

3. Day-Lewis was born into a celebrated artistic family. His father, Cecil Day-Lewis, was a poet laureate of the United Kingdom. His mother, Jill Balcon, was a famous actress on radio, stage, television, and film. His grandfather, Sir Michael Balcon, produced many of Alfred Hitchcock's early films, among many others. His sister is television chef, cookbook author, and documentary filmmaker Tamasin Day-Lewis.

[Related: Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis admit fear drove them toward 'Lincoln']

Better Genes

4. If you think Day-Lewis has impressive genes, wait till you meet his kids! But that's what happens when your wife is writer/director/actress Rebecca Miller, daughter of Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Arthur Miller. The couple met when Day-Lewis was making "The Crucible" (1996), a cinematic adaptation of Arthur's Tony Award winning play. Rebecca and Daniel live in an 18th century home in the Irish countryside with their two kids, Ronan Cal (14) and Cashel Blake (10). "I lead a very quiet life when I'm not working," the famously reclusive actor told People. Day-Lewis also has another child, Gabriel Kane (17), with French actress Isabel Adjani. Of course, she's not the only actress Day-Lewis has been romantically linked with, Juliette Binoche, Julia Roberts, Winona Ryder, and Greta Scacchi have all reportedly rooted for Team Daniel.

'Lincoln' Theatrical Trailer 2

5. At first, Day-Lewis didn't want to play the part of Abraham Lincoln. "It seemed a preposterous idea to me, so I fled," Day-Lewis admitted during Yahoo! Movies exclusive Q&A with him and Spielberg. But Spielberg didn't get to where he is today by taking no for an answer. After Day-Lewis and Spielberg's initial meeting, the actor voiced his concerns, which Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner addressed. "I essentially ran out of excuses," Day-Lewis continued. "I really have to feel in some sense that there's no choice ... in this case, in that moment I felt I have no choice but to try and understand this thing." You can see from the "Lincoln" theatrical trailer above that Day-Lewis made the right choice.

[Related: Get local showtimes and tickets for 'Lincoln']