NEW YORK, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- British actor Daniel Day-Lewis said he signed on to play a U.S. oil tycoon in "There Will Be Blood" because the character's life is so different from his own.
Set in early 20th century California, the film Tuesday earned an Academy Award nomination for best picture, as well as a best actor nod for Day-Lewis and best director and best adapted screenplay nominations for writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson.
Asked recently what the challenge is in playing a miserable character like the one he portrays in "There Will Be Blood," Day-Lewis laughed and told reporters in New York, "No challenge."
"I never saw him as a miserable (jerk)," he continued. "The challenge is, I daresay, the same as it always is -- which is just to try and discover a life that isn't your own and Plainview, as he came to me, in Paul's beautiful script, was a man whose life I didn't understand at all. It was a life that was big and mysterious to me and that unleashed a fatal curiosity, which I had no choice but to pursue."
Competing against Day-Lewis for the best actor Oscar will be George Clooney for his work in "Michael Clayton"; Johnny Depp for "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"; Tommy Lee Jones for "In the Valley of Elah" and Viggo Mortensen for "Eastern Promises."