Daniel Day-Lewis said he was "entirely amazed" to receive a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
The star is not short of honours - his 2012 Oscar win for Lincoln made him the first man to win three best actor statuettes.
He said: "I'm entirely amazed and utterly delighted in equal measure."
Day-Lewis, the son of former poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis and actress Jill Balcon, has been nominated five times for the best actor Oscar and has a reputation for taking his method acting very seriously.
He is said to have lived in a tent on a deserted Texan oil field during the making of There Will Be Blood.
To play Guildford Four member Gerry Conlon in the film In The Name Of The Father, he spent two days in a prison cell without food and water.
While shooting The Ballad Of Jack And Rose, he chose to live apart from his wife Rebecca Miller and their two children - because she was the director and he was playing a conflicted family man.
And he chose to stay in character as fearsome Bill "The Butcher" Cutting even when the cameras stopped rolling on the Martin Scorsese epic Gangs Of New York.
"He'd be sharpening his knives at lunchtime just like you'd expect Bill the Butcher to do. He's just really intense," recalled co-star Leonardo DiCaprio.
But he is also not afraid to poke fun at himself. Accepting his best actor Bafta for Lincoln, he told the audience: "Just on the chance I might one day have to speak on an evening such as this I've actually stayed in character as myself for the last 55 years and had a various selection of Bafta sets downscaled, dating from the late fifties, placed in every single room of every house I've ever lived in and every time I rise from a chair it spontaneously unleashes a soundtrack of thunderous applause, with a few boos and some drunken hecklers."
Away from Hollywood, stories of his eccentricities abound.
In 1997, he turned his back on the film industry and became a shoemaker in Florence, where he remained until Scorsese lured him back into films.
The 55-year-old, who grew up in south London and has dual British and Irish citizenship, is fiercely private and lives in Co Wicklow, Ireland, with Miller - daughter of playwright Arthur Miller - and their sons.
He also has a son from a previous relationship with French actress Isabelle Adjani.
He is often spoken of as a recluse but has told an interviewer he needs peace and quiet to prepare for acting jobs.
"I couldn't work or get ready for a piece of work from a city base, from city life. I need deep, deep quiet and a landscape too that I can be absorbed into.
"So much of the work is in the process of aimless rumination in which things may or may not take seed," he explained.
His breakthrough role was in 1985 British drama My Beautiful Laundrette and other acclaimed performances include The Last Of The Mohicans, The Age Of Innocence and A Room With A View.