Last night I heard an NPR interview with the versatile British actor Daniel Day Lewis, best known for roles in films such as My Left Foot and Last of the Mohicans. Lewis stars in an upcoming movie entitled 9, based on the life and work of Italian film director Federico Fellini (who made a famous flick called 8 1/2).
After a series of questions about how Lewis’s role involves him singing and dancing and harkens back to his theater days of a quarter century ago, the interviewer probed about the actor’s method of spending months preparing for a role by immersing himself in the lifestyle and mannerisms of the character. Lewis disputed the notion that any one method was more bizarre than another, comparing it to the even more eccentric nature of acting itself and spending one’s entire career pretending to be someone else. But then he added this juicy insight about why he gets so into the role months before principal photography even begins:
“I do it because it is my pleasure.”
The actor is teaching us something here. When we do what we love and truly have a vocation (as opposed to a series of jobs), pragmatism flows out of authentic passion. Because we love what we do, we do it intentionally, thoroughly and with excellence. The result is positioning ourselves for near-flawless performance every single time.
Have Lewis’s response in mind whenever anyone observes that you are “in the zone” in your own quirky way, and asks you why you “do it that way.” Because it is my pleasure. That’s keeping it real.
Oh, here’s a reflection to carry into the new year: Are you embracing your vocational pleasures?