"Daniel Plainview is one of the most well-developed characters in cinema history," says Tyler Knudsen in his new video essay from the series Cinema Tyler. It's true—Daniel Day-Lewis's embodiment of Paul Thomas Anderson's fictional oilman is, at least in the realm of American cinema, unparalleled in its complexity. Plainview's obsessive ambition, avarice, manipulative tendencies, charisma, and intelligence are a Molotov cocktail made in antihero heaven.
Drawing on interviews with Anderson, Day-Lewis, and cinematographer Robert Elswitt, Knudsen explains the intricate process of the character's creation. It was so involved, in fact, that by the time they got to shooting, Knudsen says, Anderson and Day-Lewis were "so much on the same page that the discussions on set revolved mainly around whether or not Plainview would be wearing a hat or smoking his pipe."
But, as you'll come to see, the hat plays a more important role than meets the eye. Read on for our takeaways from the video.