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Paul Thomas Anderson on working with Daniel Day-Lewis for Phantom Thread

Daniel Day-Lewis Phantom Thread Paul Thomas Anderson

A Paul Thomas Anderson film is always something to look forward to, but when you throw Daniel Day-Lewis into the mix for what may very well be his final acting role, then you've certainly got my attention. PHANTOM THREAD stars Daniel Day-Lewis as renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock in 1950's post-war London, and paints an illuminating portrait of an artist on a creative journey as well as the women who keep his world running. Paul Thomas Anderson recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the upcoming film, which may have taken a little inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock's REBECCA.

It’s not your standard love story. It’s more peculiar for sure. A lot of directors have tried and failed to make Rebecca. I’m probably next in line, but it’s a different story. I’m a large aficionado of those large Gothic romance movies as the old masters might do them. What I like about those kinds of love stories is that they’re very suspenseful. A good dollop of suspense with a love story is a nice combination.

Paul Thomas Anderson hadn't been toying with the idea of PHANTOM THREAD for very long, but after making a movie "with all of these dirty hippies with facial hair and stuff," Anderson thought, "Oh, god. Let’s do something with fancy people." But first, he would need a few characters to go along with the story he had in mind.

I had a story that was in search of characters, which is rare for me. I needed a man for this story. I needed a woman and another woman. It was good for the story for the man to be very strong-willed, stubborn, set in his ways, slightly fascist, creative, that kind of thing. That’s good because then you’ve got something you need to crack and to figure out how to crack. I think many people would agree, just like they would about the Golden Age of Hollywood, that the peak time for couture was in the early-to-mid 1950s. There were so many beautiful dresses that were made that are still referenced and spoken about and admired. I love the idea on a pure style level being able to have that around your story. That was appealing. And to work with Daniel, it would be nice to have a story — it’s been a long time since he’s played an Englishman. The more I saw the pictures of this era, it was just so much contagious. It was real syrupy, to get into that. It’s really easy to look good.

The last collaboration between Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis certainly yielded wonderful results, so it's surprising that it's taken this long for the pair to reunite. It was Anderson who got the ball rolling on restarting that partnership, despite the risk that comes from attempting to replicate past successes, but Anderson said that it "seemed crazy not to take the opportunity." The director also revealed that he collaborated with Day-Lewis every step of the way, sending him pieces of the script as he was writing, "which was very helpful in terms of forming the story and the character. But also, it was incredibly practical for time [purposes] because it gave him time to prepare whatever he was going to have to learn how to do to play a dressmaker." Despite Daniel Day-Lewis announcing his retirement from acting earlier this year, Anderson says that it was never something which was discussed while making the film.

No, it was never discussed. I think he’s been saying that he’s wanted to do it for a long time. I do remember him telling me that he really thought about retiring after I think it was The Boxer. Hopefully, it’s something that he’ll reconsider. In the meantime, he’s left it all out on the field, I like to think.

The official synopsis for PHANTOM THREAD:

Set in the glamour of 1950s post-war London, renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) are at the center of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutants and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Women come and go through Woodcock’s life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love.

PHANTOM THREAD will hit theaters on December 25, 2017.

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