Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Freeze frame: the day our Colin got bike fan Daniel Day-Lewis to star in his film

Daniel Day-Lewis sporting his motorbike leathers
Daniel Day-Lewis sporting his motorbike leathers

It was the day we came face to face with three-time Oscar winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis and convinced him to go on camera to promote a new motorcycling DVD – and all for free.

The movie legend, who holds Irish and British citizenship, is renowned for becoming totally absorbed in the characters he plays on screen, but unknown to many he also harbours a need for speed and is the proud owner of a number of fast bikes.

The accomplished rider has also built up a relationship with the Northern Ireland biking scene, becoming fast friends with former racing legend turned bike dealer Phillip McCallen.

The two now catch up whenever Day-Lewis is in Northern Ireland and have attended race meetings like the NW200, and have met up for bike runs together.

McCallen has also taken his Oscar-winning buddy on a few racing laps, where by all accounts he "scared the bejaysus" out of him.

While known as a fiercely private individual who shuns the limelight, Day-Lewis is quite happy to sit around and talk motorbikes with ordinary fellow riders. He has also presented customers at Phillip's dealership with the keys to their new bikes, making a special day even more so.

And the down-to-earth star is quite willing to do his biking comrades a favour.

A few years ago when fellow motorcycling writer Geoff Hill and I were doing bike road tests for various papers and magazines, we regularly sourced machines from Phillip's showroom in Lisburn, as he has the dealership for several famous marques.

We were also planning a long-distance ride lasting three months that would be turned into a book and a DVD called Oz: Around Australia On A Triumph.

In the process, we'd become quite good friends with Phillip, who rang out of the blue one day to say: "Daniel Day-Lewis is coming here to pick up his new bike – do you want to come down and meet him?"

No need to ask twice, and our film crew was despatched on the off-chance he might do us a favour and appear on camera.

It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for riding, when he appeared to pick up his new bike.

Looking like any other mad-keen biker attired in a set of well-worn racing leathers, black T-shirt and tattoos, he was more than happy to discuss our upcoming trip and the appeal of various machines.

He also agreed to a short interview on film where he expressed his jealousy about us going on such an adventure and said he'd love to be going along with us.

We invited him to join our motley crew and he said if he was anywhere nearby, and had the time, he'd catch up with us.

Failing that, with typical biker camaraderie he wished us good luck and Godspeed on the journey ahead.

Sadly, he never made it on the trip, but we sent him a copy of the DVD – so far no Oscar nominations for us on that one.

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