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Nominee Spotlight: Daniel Day-Lewis

Blame it on Bobby De Niro.

Sure, Daniel Day-Lewis, 50, is one of the finest actors in the world -- and this isn't open to dispute. It is fact. The Oscar-winner is a tremendously, intimidatingly committed performer and the odds-on favourite to win the Best Actor statuette this year for There Will Be Blood, but the actor of his generation may easily have been a cabinet-maker.

Thankfully, carpentry occasionally leads to loftier destinations, and both serendipity and Scorsese combined to derail the Irish youth from his woodworking aspirations. After doing very well on stage in England, he had applied for a five-year cabinet-maker apprenticeship but was rejected due to a lack of experience. Seeking a sign, he applied to only one theatre school, the Bristol Old Vic -- and got in. Yup, we were lucky.

The classics, however, weren't an instintive fit for the Brit struggling to get away and find himself exotic, far-removed skin to slip into. In 1976, he saw Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver -- about six times over the first two weeks -- and decided his heart lay in American cinema and characters like the one played in Robert De Niro in the film.

Text: Raja Sen | Photograph: Getty Images

Also read: Nominee Spotlight: Johnny Depp

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