Protagonists in Florence: Daniel Day-Lewis


Florence is easy to fall in love with: its golden riversides at sunset, its breathtaking views from Boboli or Piazzale Michelangelo. From the immortal artistic tradition that was born and taught here to the whole world, up to the most contemporary contaminations that vibrate in an increasingly creative and international historical center, not even the Hollywood stars seem immune to the charm of the Tuscan capital. And from the red carpet to the Oltrarno workshops, it’s a short trip!

Among the countless stories that link the Cinema - the one with a capital C - to our city, the most singular is undoubtedly that of Daniel Day-Lewis, who from Oscar star fell into the shoes (for once, not cinematographic) of the cobbler in the workshop of Stefano Bemer, excellence in the world of shoes, world famous for refinement and quality of the raw materials.

The Irish star, the only one in the world to have won three Academy Awards for Best Actor, spent 10 months as an "intern" in the laboratory in San Frediano, located in the heart of the city, in an ancient church from 1439, in the most authentic Florence, that of artisans and second-hand dealers, antique dealers and small shops.

It is an intriguing story that had the whole world press talking: the protagonist of masterpieces such as "The Last of the Mohicans" by Michael Mann and "The Age of Innocence" by Martin Scorsese, lent himself as an artisan for almost a year between 1999 and 2000 free of charge. Thanks to a pair of leather boots, which belonged to his father and to which the actor was particularly attached. In order to repair the boots, Day-Lewis turned to the Florentine shoemaker, a company founded in 1983 with the sole ambition of "creating the perfect Italian shoe". In that shop, the bizarre request: "Can I work for you?"

He was struck by the precision, the technique and the total dedication of the artisan, attitudes particularly congenial to him. In fact, Daniel Day-Lewis is known for being a meticulous, punctual, at times obsessive, professional, famous for "The Method", the acting method that made him fall body and soul into the roles he played: from the weeks he spent in a wheelchair to try out the paralysis for "My left foot" by Jim Sheridan which earned him the first Oscar, to the days spent in solitary confinement without sleep and without food to rake in the anger and alienation of Gerry Conlon, the protagonist of "In the name of the father" also by Sheridan. Up until the butcher training, between carcasses and cleavers, to give an unprecedented ferocity to Bill The Butcher in Scorsese's "Gangs of New York", a role that would tear him from his Florentine refuge.

After months of working in Bemer's workshop to escape the frenzy of showbiz, it would be Scorsese's offer to convince him to return to the stage. Definitely a disappointment for the Tuscan neighbors, but a fortune for the big screen, considering that between 2008 and 2013, he won two more Oscars with "There Will Be Blood" and "Lincoln", giving us some of the most extraordinary film portrayals ever.