People have such a misconception about what it is I do. They think the character comes from staying in the wheelchair or being locked in the jail or whatever extravagant thing they choose to focus their fantasies on… But that’s just the superficial stuff. Most of the movies I do ae leading me toward a life this is utterly mysterious to me. My chief goal is to find a way to make that life meaningful to other people.
Hear that? This is Daniel Day-Lewis talking about acting. Unless I’m mistaken, he is talking about artifice.
I had always assumed that Daniel Day-Lewis was a method man, a man who committed himself to his part, living and breathing it for the duration of filming.
Method acting, as I understand it (and I may not), is not really acting at all. It’s an act of revelation.
Method actors feel their character with great depth. They enter an emotional condition in which the portrayer is indistinguishable from the portrayed. Committed to someone else’s selfhood means that the actor must necessary throw off signals that describe the emotional condition within. The actor isn’t so much acting as he or she is giving an account of how he or she feels in this moment before camera. In the method approach, acting is kind of serial sincerity.
Not so the crafty European. No, the old world actor engages in calculation! In artifice! This actor is making stuff up. No sincerity here. He actually stops to think how he might "make that life meaningful to other people." Ladies and gentlemen, the guy’s a faker.
We North Americans are uncomfortable with the idea of artifice. We want our actors to live and breathe their roles, in the manner of a Robert De Niro. It’s as if we are saying that we will not commit to a performance unless we know the actor has done the same. And if this should cost some actor his self possession, in the manner of a Heath Ledger, well, this troubles us not at all. In the art markets of our democracy, we are little monarchs. We will have our due.
And this brings us to what I think we mean by authenticity in the world of branding. We don’t mean brands that are never otherwise. We don’t mean brands that are true to themselves. We mean brands that practice serial sincerity. We want the brand, as we want the actor, to be what it is the moment it is with perfect and thoroughgoing commitment. The brand might have been something before, and it may be something after, but in this moment the brand must be what it is and not another thing. It must be in this regard actorly, a method brand.
Jensen, Jeff. 2008. Daniel Day-Lewis. Entertainment Weekly. Issue 978, February 1, 2008, p. 33.