Oscars Flashback '90: Day-Lewis's Right Foot

by Robert Pace 8:00 AM PST, December 03, 2012
Playing Oscars Flashback '90: Day-Lewis's Right Foot

Daniel Day-Lewis is known for disappearing into his roles, which is exactly what won him his first Oscar as he vanished into the role of real-life Irish creative talent Christy Brown in My Left Foot.

The film follows Brown--a painter, novelist, and poet from Dublin--through his unique experience of only being able to control his left leg due the cerebral palsy that was discovered shortly after his birth.

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While Day-Lewis embodied his character well enough to earn him the Academy Award for Best Actor, he was unable to perform the script's required task with his left foot and some of the scenes had to be filmed through a mirror while he acted with his right foot instead.

"What I hope is true is that people have come to a point where they're prepared to understand more about the lives of disabled people," he says after accepting the award in 1990. "That's not what the film is about, but certainly the fact that people are able to enjoy it must mean that that is true because there's been such a huge resistance to acknowledging the lives of disabled people in society."

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At that point in his career, Day-Lewis had acted in a handful of films in the United Kingdom and a couple of American films, but he had yet to receive any widespread acclaim until My Left Foot. After receiving an award off his first Oscar nomination, the then 32-year-old actor reveals that he's relieved that the pressure is now off.

"I think the truth is: I am actually relieved, 'cause [the nomination] does engender a huge amount of tension, this occasion."