THE HEADTEACHER of a Petersfield school who met runaway teenager Daniel Day-Lewis on his doorstep says even then he had the presence which has made history in the film world.
The former pupil of Bedales in Steep became the first actor to win three best male lead Oscars when he won his latest award on Sunday evening. This was for his portrayal of US president Lincoln in the highly acclaimed film of the same name.
He has previously won Best Actor awards for My Left Foot and There Will Be Blood.
But his acting career may never have taken off if he hadn’t made a hotheaded decision to run away from school...
As a teenager he went to a strict boarding school, but in 1968, after two unhappy years, he decided he’d had enough.
He left with just his pocket money and a packet of cigarettes, an article by his older sister Tamasin recalls, and headed to Petersfield where she was a student at Bedales.
Tim Slack, who was headteacher at Bedales from 1962-74 said: “When I opened my door, Daniel was standing there. He said he had been walking and sleeping rough for three days and asked if he could join his sister at the school.”
His father, Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis, agreed, and his mother, actress Jill Balcon, began an association with Steep that lasted until her death in Petersfield Hospital in 2009.
Bedales has a history of fostering the arts and offering creative freedom to its students.
Tamasin, now a food writer and TV documentary producer, wrote: “Bedales was enlightened and the relationship with staff more equal. Though we did rebel most of the time.”
Daniel soon made a name for himself on the stage there.
Mr Slack said: “With his distinctive profile and presence he stood out. He was a talented footballer in the school team, appeared in school plays and enjoyed creative woodwork.”
A love of wood nearly cost the acting world dear, as Daniel wanted to become an apprentice cabinet maker, but didn’t have enough experience.
So he turned to acting and gained a place at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The Anglo Irish method actor is married to Rebecca, the daughter of playwright Arthur Miller, and they have two sons.
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