My Brother’s Keeper
by Gareth Lewis, The Guardian, September 22, 2008
Damian Lewis and Kate Ashfield lie at my feet, all but naked, covered in flour, eggs, jam, custard, cake mix and glacé cherries. From the shadows, a group of men and women stare at the bodies on the floor. In this cramped room, the temperature has risen to that of a Swedish sauna; sweat trickles down the inside of my shirt. I put my hand on the table to support myself and inadvertently squirt cream all over my trousers. Looking down at the mess, I find myself wondering, not for the first time, how I got into this position. More importantly, how did they get into that position? And will we be able to untangle them?
The answer has its roots in a conversation that took place a couple of years ago between myself and the lead actor in this scenario, Damian Lewis – my brother. It went something like this:
Me: You want to be in my film?
A taut and dramatic scene, full of pathos, I think you’ll agree. At that point it hadn’t really occurred to either of us what it would be like to work together. We’d mooted the possibility as a sort of “wouldn’t it be fun one day to work together on something?” – but hadn’t actually considered what that might mean for us, either personally or professionally. It just seemed like a good idea: Damian was perfect for the role, he liked the script, liked me, I liked him, I bought him another beer and thrust the contract under his nose. It was a beautiful moment.
In the cold, grey light of dawn, we started to understand what we’d got ourselves into. He was going to commit to saying words I’d written, under my direction, on film, a film that was going out into the big, wide world to have a life of its own beyond our control. I was going to be responsible for keeping his reputation as an actor intact.
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