Day By Day

03.04.13

"Get a F***ing Life": Last Words Daniel Day-Lewis Spoke To Half-Brother

Extraordinary details of Day-Lewis family feud publicized in British newspaper

Given the serenity and fulfilment radiated by Daniel Day-Lewis—he has apparently vowed not to make another movie for five years, following his record-busting third best actor Oscar win, instead turning his hand to stonemasonry and wood turning behind the walls of his Irish estate—it’s hard to imagine him screaming at any one in anger (outside of character, natch).

So it comes as something of a surprise to read in an interview with his half-brother Sean this weekend in the Daily Telegraph that the last words our greatest living actor spoke to him were, “Get a f***ing life.”

Daniel has not spoken to Sean in the 19 years since the outburst, a situation which seems unlikely to ameliorate following Sean’s interview with the Telegraph, as the initial row was caused by Sean talking to the press.

Sean, like Daniel, is a son of the poet Cecil Day-Lewis, but they have different mothers. Daniel is 55 and Sean is 81.

 “I made a terrible mistake by helping an author who was writing a so-called biography of Dan,” Sean told the Telegraph. Sean says he gave the author a copy of his biography of his father so he would “get the facts right” and his help was acknowledged the foreword.

“Dan saw that and completely blew me out of the water. He phoned me up and told me to '------- get a life’. '---- off,’ he said. I couldn’t get a word in. That was in 1994, and that was our last conversation.”

Reading between the lines of the Telegraph interview, however, it seems, the story may be more nuanced.

When Cecil died from pancreatic cancer in 1972, Sean wrote a biography of Cecil, which, because it detailed his myriad affairs, greatly upset Daniel’s mother, Jill.

“He didn’t like me writing anything about him, naturally. Dan hates publicity and doesn’t like journalists; and I was in a tribe of hacks.”

But there's a whole pot of resentment apparently bubbling just beneath the surface.

From The Telegraph:

Cecil Day-Lewis’s grave is in St Michael’s Churchyard in Stinsford, Dorset, just across the border from Sean’s home. “Without telling me, Tamasin and Dan decided their mother should be buried beside him,” he explains. “One day when we went to look at the stone, we found it was missing and chased all around the churchyard in case it had been moved. I thought I might have been told, at least.” The stone is now back in place, with Jill’s name engraved, and Sean and his wife plan to visit soon to pay their respects. “Alas, it won’t be with Tamasin and Dan.”

Is your sympathy for Sean starting to waver?

Now in his eighties, Sean apparently "longs for a reconciliation."

At home, he has a copy of that Cecil Day-Lewis biography—"the one that caused the problem”, he says, flicking wistfully through the pages.

“It was nearly 20 years ago. I have no means of getting hold of Dan now except through his agent.”

Does he hope, one day, to end the silence?

“Yes, I would like that,” he says, resolutely. “Very much.”

Which seems about as likely as honest Abe passing one a bent five-buck note.