I've been on a big Irish film kick since getting back from vacation. Watched My Left Foot yesterday expecting a one way ticket to Bummer Town, but ended up feeling better about humanity as a whole. Pretty happy about that!
D-Day Lewis is an absolute powerhouse, and it's easy to see how this was the role that cemented him as a true acting heavyweight. He picks his roles very well and never fails to throw himself completely into the character he's playing. For My Left Foot he plays a man with cerebral palsy and refused to come out of character off set, requiring co workers to feed him when going out to dinner after shooting. He spent most of the shoot confined to a wheelchair and ended up breaking 2 ribs as a result of being hunched over and thrashing for weeks on end. His commitment is unbelievable and it shows in the finished product.
When he won Best Actor in 1990, it was considered a monumental upset. He beat out Kenneth Branagh, Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman and Robin Williams... no slouches there. In the end, it's hard to argue that it wasn't deserved. If you love his more recent work in Gangs of New York or There Will Be Blood (or Lincoln, which I plan on seeing this weekend) then it's definitely worth checking out to see where DDL made his name.