As the lift doors slide open in the vast and suitably grand lobby of a Beverly Hills hotel, a tall, shambling figure steps incongruously into a Mêlée of designer-suited Hollywood dealmakers.
Head down and wearing a tatty fisherman's cap and black biker's T-shirt, which exposes a tangle of vivid blue tattoos down one arm, he also sports two silver hoop earrings which give him the (slightly comical) appearance of a pantomime pirate.
He cuts a somewhat unlikely figure in these ornate and distinctly moneyed environs, and merits barely a flicker of recognition from those around him as he edges his way through the power-dressed throng to the hotel bar.
There, in a lilting Irish accent, he orders a pint of Guinness, which he drinks alone on a barstool while studiously avoiding eye contact with his well-heeled fellow guests.
This is Daniel Day-Lewis, who was this week being hailed as the greatest actor on the planet.
Here, he is in his more customary role, as Hollywood's most reluctant - and increasingly strange - star.
For the past ten years, the London-born actor has led a resolutely reclusive existence, locked away on a remote 50-acre estate in the mountains of County Wicklow (hence the former public schoolboy's recently acquired Irish brogue).
He has emerged to make just four films in the past decade, including his latest role as a violent oil prospector in There Will Be Blood, which won him a Golden Globe this week (hence this rare appearance in Los Angeles), has been nominated for a Bafta, and is tipped to earn him a second Best Actor Oscar.
Indeed, the film critic of the New York Times called the actor's latest chilling performance the greatest he had seen.
But the win comes as rumours circulate in Hollywood that one co-star quit the movie in disgust after branding Day-Lewis "crazy and intimidating".
Another claimed this week that in one fight scene in a bowling alley, the star pummelled him for real with bowling balls.
Paul Dano, who starred opposite Day-Lewis in the turn-of-the-century drama, said: "They start flying and I realise he's getting into it. Then a ball bounces up and hits me in the leg, and I'm thinking: 'OK, those are heavy; this is getting serious - I'd better duck.'"
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All of which is being lapped up by gossiping movie executives over corporate lunches at Hollywood's trendiest watering holes, as are tales from the few who have been permitted admittance to the star's isolated Irish hideaway.
Visitors to his home - which can be reached only via a narrow track - have revealed how he spends his time obsessively practising his twin hobbies of shoe-making and woodwork, as well as riding for hours at a time alone through the mountains on his push bike.
No wonder he is being compared to the equally strange and reclusive Marlon Brando.
But then those who know the 50-year-old Day-Lewis well have long since ceased to be surprised by his eccentric lifestyle.
This spring, he will return to a movie studio - only this time, instead of acting, he will join the carpentry crew, building the sets on The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee, which is to be directed by his wife Rebecca Miller, author of the book on which the film is based.
So obsessed is Day-Lewis with practising his new skills as a carpenter that he admitted, in a rare interview this week, that his nine-year-old son Ronan (the couple also have another boy, five-year-old Cashel) thought, until recently, that his father was not an actor but worked on a building site.
At the same time, the actor is said to insist on living the role of his latest characters for up to two years before beginning a new movie.
For the part of Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, he refused to speak to his co-stars off the set, and insisted on living in a tent on a deserted Texas oilfield when the cameras stopped rolling.
In his previous movie, The Ballad Of Jack And Rose, in which he played a reclusive hippy, he built his own shack on the beach of a remote Canadian island, where he would spend the nights after shooting had finished, while his family stayed in a nearby hotel.
Such attention to detail has sometimes irked his co-stars. When he starred as the psychotic Bill "The Butcher" in Martin Scorsese's The Gangs Of New York, he first trained as a butcher; and while on set, he listened obsessively to the music of foul-mouthed rapper Eminem in a bid to keep up his "level of aggression".
It resulted in him falling out with co-star Liam Neeson, who was furious that Day-Lewis insisted on addressing him by his character's name even when they met in the gym at their hotel.
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On the same film, he also refused to acknowledge Leonardo DiCaprio, who broke Day-Lewis's nose in one all-too-realistic fight scene.
Taking method acting to the extreme is very much a Day-Lewis hallmark.
In the role that won him his first Oscar, his acclaimed 1989 performance as Irish writer and cerebral palsy victim Christy Moore in My Left Foot, he asked the crew to wheel him around in his wheelchair between takes and feed him with a spoon.
To prepare for his part as the wrongly convicted alleged IRA bomber Gerry Conlon in the film about the Guildford Four, In The Name Of The Father, he spent three nights on meagre prison rations in a freezing cold cell.
Those passing by on the set were instructed to abuse him and throw cold water on him.
One technician, who has twice worked with Day-Lewis, said this week: "I have never known anything like it.
"We all had to call him by his character's name, even if we bumped into him in the toilets.
"If he was doing a scene where he was being aggressive or having a fight, he would start getting really angry a few days beforehand, and would be glaring and snarling at people on the set.
"You had to know when to steer well clear of him because he could be pretty terrifying when he was in character.
"I must say, I personally gave him a wide berth because I thought he was nuts.
"But I met him socially shortly after doing the first picture with him and he was utterly charming and as nice as pie to me.
"It was as if, during filming, he actually became the person he was playing."
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Day-Lewis has in the past been dogged by rumours of drug-taking, although this week he said he had stopped using them.
He does admit, however, that a year after his father's death (he is the son of former poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis, who died when Daniel was 15), he took an overdose of migraine tablets and received psychiatric treatment.
It had not been an easy childhood: his father had sent him to board at Sevenoaks School in Kent in a bid to cure his "unruliness", which included shoplifting and fighting.
But Cecil's death left a lasting wound.
Later, when his agent Julian Belfrage, who had become a surrogate father to him, died of cancer in 1994, Daniel is said to have suffered a nervous breakdown.
Five years earlier, he had a similar mental collapse while playing Hamlet on stage in the West End.
The actor became convinced he was talking to the ghost of his dead father and ran from the stage, sobbing uncontrollably.
He has never returned to the theatre since.
But his brooding intensity has been catnip to a series of Hollywood beauties, including Julia Roberts, Winona Ryder, Greta Scacchi and Juliette Binoche.
He has a 12-year-old son, Gabriel Kane, from his six-year, on-off relationship with French actress Isabelle Adjani.
She later revealed he had dumped her by fax when he discovered she was pregnant with Gabriel and initially made no payments for the child. (Friends say he is now close to his son.)
He was also accused of a certain ruthlessness when he met Miss Miller, now 45, in 1996 on the set of The Crucible - a film of the play written by her father, the acclaimed American playwright Arthur Miller.
After a whirlwind romance, the couple were married secretly in Vermont.
There was just one hitch: the actor had neglected to tell his long-time girlfriend of the time, fitness instructor Deya Pichardo, who was still living in his Manhattan apartment.
Deya only discovered he had got married when a friend of his rang to congratulate her, assuming that she was the new bride.
Day-Lewis's uncle, Jonathan Balcon, branded his nephew "a bounder" whose morals were "up the spout".
But his relationship with Miss Miller has been mercifully free from scandal.
The actor and his American-born wife keep a holiday home in Connecticut, where her father - the former husband of Marilyn Monroe - retired before his death in 2005.
(The couple and their children moved in with him shortly before he died.)
Three months ago, it was revealed that Day-Lewis had persuaded the elderly Arthur Miller to agree to a reunion with the 40-year-old Down's syndrome son he had put into a home a week after the boy's birth.
Miller had kept the existence of the child, also called Daniel, a secret; but friends say Day-Lewis took to paying weekly visits to see the playwright's secret son.
These days, though, the actor's stays in America have become rare.
Instead, he has increasingly embraced a hermit-style existence in his tiny Irish village.
(Day-Lewis is said to steer clear of other well-off residents, including U2 singer Bono.)
After buying his estate in 1993 for £500,000, he subsequently bought another 45 acres of surrounding countryside to preserve his privacy.
There he spends his days practising his skills as a cobbler in a small workshop.
Locals say they occasionally see him riding around the mountain roads on his racing bicycle, or arriving at his local pub, The Roundwood Inn, on one of his collection of motorbikes.
One fellow drinker said: "He'll come in a couple of times a week and just sit alone at the bar with a pint of Guinness.
"He's always very pleasant and will pass the time of day, but he likes to be pretty much left alone.
"To be honest, I don't think too many of the locals actually realise who he is because he keeps such a low profile.
"He seems embarrassed when he is recognised and obviously has a bit of a problem with fame. Most people understand that and leave him in peace."
One associate said: "Daniel is already fretting about having to go to the Oscars. He hates all the razzmatazz and standing around on the red carpet.
"He can't stand the attention."
This very genuine humility, combined with utter devotion to his craft, has earned this brilliantly gifted actor many admirers.
The irony is that as long as his intense and unusual preparation continues to result in cinematic gold, fame is something Day-Lewis will just have to endure.
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