“He’s making shoes in Italy”: Leonardo DiCaprio had the Most Absurd Time Bringing Daniel Day Lewis Out of Retirement

Leonardo DiCaprio revealed that it was his job to convince Daniel Day-Lewis to bring him out of retirement and be a part of 'Gangs of New York'.

"He's making shoes in Italy": Leonardo DiCaprio had the Most Absurd Time Bringing Daniel Day Lewis Out of Retirement

SUMMARY

  • One of the most iconic films from Leonardo DiCaprio's filmography is 'Gangs of New York'.
  • The reason for this was not because of the cast or the director, but because of the fact that it was the film that brought Daniel Day-Lewis out of retirement.
  • During an interview, DiCaprio revealed that it was his job to convince the actor to be a part of this project and deliver he did.
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Leonardo DiCaprio has been a part of more than a few extremely iconic projects. None, however, have reached the standard set by his 2002 film, Gangs of New York. The film had an excellent cast of actors, with Cameron Diaz, Liam Neeson, Jim Broadbent, and Henry Thomas. On top of this, it was also directed by one of the most respected filmmakers of all time, Martin Scorsese. Despite this, it was something else that made it as significant of a film as it was.

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Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York
Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York

The film starred Daniel Day-Lewis, one of the most respected and talented actors of all time. The Lincoln actor made an appearance in the film despite having retired. During an interview, DiCaprio revealed that it was his job to convince the actor to be a part of the project and this was no easy process.

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Leonardo DiCaprio Had To Bring Daniel Day-Lewis Out Of Retirement

Leonardo DiCaprio gave an interview with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, where he revealed the process of casting Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting, in Gangs of New York. When the conversation surrounding the role started, the first person that was thought of by everyone in the room was, Daniel Day-Lewis. Unfortunately, he had retired from acting five years prior, with his ‘final’ role being in the 1997 film, The Boxer.

Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York (2002)
Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York (2002)

“We were talking about who was going to play this incredible role of Bill ‘The Butcher’ and a few names came up and somebody said, ‘What about Daniel?’ and people immediately said, ‘Well, he’s retired. He’s a cobbler. He’s making shoes in Italy. ” He added, “It was actually my job to go speak with him.”

Despite this, Martin Scorsese decided to give it a shot, assigning DiCaprio to try and talk to Lewis.

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“I will never forget meeting him in New York. I went to his brownstone (house) and sort of knocked on the door, and he opened the door and goes, ‘Hi, how are you?’ and I said, ‘Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Leonardo. He goes, ‘Shall we walk?’ And I go, ‘OK’. We started walking through Central Park, and he didn’t say anything to me for the first couple of minutes, so I said, ‘Alright, I’m not gonna say anything to him either’.”

Leonardo DiCaprio as Amsterdam Vallon and Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York
Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York

The Titanic actor talked about the interaction, stating that he met the legend for the first time at his New York home. Here, the actor introduced himself and there was some small talk, after which, they went for a walk through Central Park.

Daniel Day-Lewis Needed A Lot Of Convincing From Leonardo DiCaprio

The walk was full of silence, with both, Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis, waiting for the other to speak. Eventually, conversation stirred and the pair talked about their common love for acting.

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Leonardo DiCaprio in Gangs of New York
Leonardo DiCaprio in Gangs of New York

“So, we kind of walked in silence, which for about 10 minutes in Central Park. The moment was incredibly surreal. I said I’m going to wait till he’s ready to speak. Finally, in the middle of Central Park, he finds a bench and goes, ‘That looks good. Would you like to sit?.’ We sat down, and we started talking about acting,”

The Titanic actor, then, pitched the role to Lewis, telling him his character would be a butcher, with knives, a top hat, and a mustache. He also added that the film would be directed by Martin Scorsese.

Martin Scorsese directed Gangs of New York (2002).
Gangs of New York 

“I said, ‘Look, there’s a role of a gangster in turn-of-the-century New York, who’s a butcher, who carries butcher knives with a top hat and a mustache in a Martin Scorsese movie. Who in their right mind wouldn’t do this’?”

Upon hearing this, Lewis mentioned how the filmmaker was the reason why he became an actor, and he would love to work with him again. However, it would not be that simple. No concrete answer was given to DiCaprio, though after some back-and-forth, dinners, and conversations, he was finally convinced to be a part of the film. Gangs of New York went on to become a classic in Lewis’s filmography.

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Gangs of New York, streaming on DIRECTV.

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Written by Ananya Godboley

A poet and art enthusiast, Ananya Godboley is a striving academic who is pursuing a career in Criminal Psychology, currently doing an undergrad degree in Psychology. Passionate about History, Philosophy and Literature, she loves to learn about new and interesting subjects. A writer for Fandomwire with over 700 published articles, she adores all things superhero and Taylor Swift.