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Lincoln star scores first at Oscars
Daniel Day-Lewis' triumph makes him the first man to win three best actor Oscars - putting him ahead of Hollywood legends including Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando and Dustin Hoffman.
The nomination was the British-born star's fifth in the category which he won previously in 1989 for My Left Foot and in 2007 for There Will Be Blood.
Day-Lewis, the son of former poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis and actress Jill Balcon, has a reputation for taking method acting very seriously.
He is said to have lived in a tent on a deserted Texan oil field during the making of There Will Be Blood.
In order to play Guildford Four member Gerry Conlon in the film In The Name Of The Father, he spent two days in a prison cell without food and water.
While shooting The Ballad Of Jack And Rose, he chose to live apart from his wife Rebecca Miller and their two children - because she was the director and he was playing a conflicted family man.
And he chose to stay in character as fearsome Bill "The Butcher" Cutting even when the cameras stopped rolling on the Martin Scorsese epic Gangs Of New York.
"He'd be sharpening his knives at lunchtime just like you'd expect Bill the Butcher to do. He's just really intense," recalled co-star Leonardo DiCaprio.
But he is also not afraid to poke fun at himself. Accepting his best actor Bafta for Lincoln, he told the audience: "Just on the chance I might one day have to speak on an evening such as this I've actually stayed in character as myself for the last 55 years and had a various selection of Bafta sets downscaled, dating from the late fifties, placed in every single room of every house I've ever lived in and every time I rise from a chair it spontaneously unleashes a soundtrack of thunderous applause, with a few boos and some drunken hecklers."
Away from Hollywood, stories of his eccentricities abound.
In 1997, he turned his back on the film industry and became a shoemaker in Florence, where he remained until Scorsese lured him back.
The 55-year-old, who grew up in south London and has duel British and Irish citizenship, is fiercely private and lives in Co Wicklow, Ireland, with Miller - daughter of playwright Arthur Miller - and their sons.
He also has a son from a previous relationship with French actress Isabelle Adjani.
He is often spoken of as a recluse but has told an interviewer he needs peace and quiet in order to prepare for acting jobs.
"I couldn't work or get ready for a piece of work from a city base, from city life. I need deep, deep quiet and a landscape too that I can be absorbed into.
"So much of the work is in the process of aimless rumination in which things may or may not take seed," he explained.
His breakthrough role was in 1985 British drama My Beautiful Laundrette and he has given other acclaimed performances in The Last Of The Mohicans, The Age Of Innocence and A Room With A View.