I like to think I discovered Daniel Day-Lewis. When I was a kid I watched all the plays on BBC2 and one evening he appeared as a rather standoffish British officer in Jennifer Johnston’s How Many Miles to Babylon? He had a huge nose and a dreadful character and a commanding presence and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Who on earth was this exotic creature? My father had given me a book written by his father, The Otterbury Incident. That was all I knew. Then he had a supporting role in another TV adaptation, Antonia White’s Frost in May and the world got to hear about him a couple of years later as a gay bovver boy in My Beautiful Laundrette swiftly followed by his masterful sympathetic interpretation of Cecil Vyse as a tragically self-aware failed Romeo in A Room With a View. There were some more TV appearances in the mini-series My Brother Jonathan and in the film The Insurance Man but for a while it went sort of pear-shaped. He was dreadful in the prestigious and perhaps misconceived The Unbearable Lightness of Being, amongst others, but then somehow gave a touch of greatness to the portrayal of disabled Irish writer Christy Brown in My Left Foot, leading to an Academy Award. He managed the unthinkable – a great performance as an action hero in the brilliant The Last of the Mohicans. He struck up a working relationship with Martin Scorsese for The Age of Innocence, a beautifully achieved if slightly stilted Wharton adaptation, following it with another Jim Sheridan collaboration in his adopted home Ireland (that of his father, the poet and novelist Cecil Day-Lewis) with In the Name of the Father. After that and The Crucible, which introduced him to surrogate father Arthur Miller, whose daughter, writer-director Rebecca, he married, his performances became more sporadic. He worked again with Scorsese in Gangs of New York, that overheated crime movie, and with his wife in The Ballad of Jack and Rose, and won another Oscar for Paul Thomas Anderson’s singular There Will Be Blood in which he towered over the screen in what seemed to be an overwhelming impersonation of John Huston in Chinatown. He was lured into being Lincoln by Steven Spielberg a role which had long been meant for Liam Neeson and it brought him back to the Academy Awards. In between he had appeared in an execrable adaptation of Nine and gave an appropriately excruciating performance. He has announced his retirement. Supposedly another film for Anderson, Phantom Thread, will be his last. He has had his scuffles with the popular press, principally for an extravagant love life and a famous encounter with his late father onstage for a matinee performance of Hamlet: it was that Oedipal episode that I missed when I first went to London and my train was late for the show at the National Theatre. My loss which I felt bitterly at the time is now monumental because it extends to his film career. He has made a scant 20 films since that first uncredited role as a stone-throwing kid in Sunday, Bloody Sunday and even if the films have not always been great, he still retains that indescribable quality: you cannot stop watching him. Well now he has decided that you must.