Acting legend Daniel Day-Lewis, who holds the record for the most Oscar best actor wins of all time, is leaving show business. The 60-year-old actor announced his retirement Tuesday, adding that Paul Thomas Anderson’s upcoming film Phantom Thread (out Dec. 25) will be his last.
Day-Lewis’ apparent retirement marks the end of an unparalleled career, and thanks to roles in films like Gangs of New York, There Will Be Blood, and The Last of the Mohicans, he earned a reputation as one of the best and most respected actors of his generation. In all, Day-Lewis has won Best Actor at the Academy Awards three separate times, making him the only actor to accomplish the feat. (Katharine Hepburn holds the record for both the most Best Actress wins and the most total acting wins, with four.) Day-Lewis is also one of only six actors to win three or more Oscars in any competitive acting category, alongside Hepburn, Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Ingrid Bergman, and Walter Brennan.
Below, we look back at Day-Lewis’ three wins.
My Left Foot
In 1990, Day-Lewis earned his first nomination and first win for his titular role in 1989’s My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown. Jodie Foster presented him with the award, and Day-Lewis beat out fellow nominees Kenneth Branagh in Henry V, Tom Cruise in Born on the Fourth of July, Morgan Freeman in Driving Miss Daisy, and Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society.
Day-Lewis devoted much of his acceptance speech to the real-life Brown, the Irish artist, and writer, who was born with cerebral palsy and used his left foot to type and write. “For everyone involved in the film, all our desire to make the film, all the strength we needed, all the pleasure that we took in making the film came from Christy Brown,” Day-Lewis told the audience.
“When he was alive, he needed very little encouragement to make his voice heard. Now he needs a little more, and I’m truly grateful to you that in honoring me with this award, you’re encouraging Christy to carry on making his mark.”
There Will Be Blood
After being nominated for his role in Gangs of New York, Day-Lewis scored his second win (and made milkshakes terrifying) with There Will Be Blood. “My deepest thanks to the members of the Academy for whacking me with the handsomest bludgeon in town,” he said in his acceptance speech, a reference to the dark film’s conclusion, which features Day-Lewis’ Daniel Plainview beating Paul Dano’s Eli Sunday to death with a bowling pin. “I’m looking at this gorgeous thing that you’ve given me, and I’m thinking back to the first devilish whisper of an idea that came to him and everything since, and it seems to me that this sprang like a golden sapling out of the mad, beautiful head of Paul Thomas Anderson.”
Day-Lewis’ final and most recent win came in 2012 for his presidential role in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. After accepting the award from Meryl Streep, an emotional Day-Lewis took the stage to thank his peers and joke that Streep was Spielberg’s first choice to play the Civil War-era president.
“I really don’t know how any of this happened,” Day-Lewis said. “I do know that I’ve received so much more than my fair share of good fortune in my life, and I’m so grateful to the Academy for this beautiful honor.”