In an interview, Daniel Day-Lewis told the story of what happened when Dillon Freasier’s mother researched the past roles of the man who would be playing alongside her son: “She thought she better check out this bunch of people taking care of her son. So she got Gangs of New York. Absolutely appalled! She thought she was releasing her dear child to this monster. And so there was a flurry of phone calls and somebody sent a copy of The Age of Innocence.”
To build his character, Daniel Day-Lewis started with the voice. Paul Thomas Anderson sent him recordings from the late 19th century to 1927 and a copy of the 1948 film, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, including documentaries on its director, John Huston, an important influence on Anderson’s film. According to Anderson, he was inspired by the fact that Sierra Madre is “about greed and ambition and paranoia and looking at the worst parts of yourself.” While writing the script, he would put the film on before he went to bed at night. To research for the role, Day-Lewis read letters from laborers and studied photographs from the time period. He also read up on oil tycoon Edward Doheny, upon whom Upton Sinclair’s book is loosely based.
And she hugged me. And I closed my eyes because I wanted to know nothing but her arms.Stephen Chbosky