Categories Homeland Interviews Media Print Media

Scotsman.com interview

 

ON AND off screen, Damian Lewis has been in the wars. At home in north London, five-year-old Gulliver is in the middle of a testosterone spike. Little sister Manon, four, is all sweetness and light, but his son is a running, punching, kicking, Power Rangers-mad ball of aggro energy.

“You’re having a perfectly normal conversation,” recounts the actor, “then suddenly he goes hiya – a punch straight in the balls! Just out of nowhere!” The 41-year-old shakes his head and grins. “You’re lying there crumpled on the floor. Unprovoked!”

Maybe little Gully is getting his own back on dad. Or maybe (whisper it), mum – actress Helen McCrory – is transferring some of her home-alone fatigue to their son. After all Lewis has been working away from home rather a lot in the past year. The London-born star of Band Of Brothers is – a decade after that Second World War HBO series made his name – a star in America, and has been putting in the filming hours to warrant it.

Lewis is the lead in Homeland, a new drama series made by US channel Showtime. He plays Sergeant Nick Brodie, an American Marine presumed dead in Iraq. But eight years after being declared missing in action, a Special Forces operation in effect trips over Brodie. The soldier emerges, battered, bearded and tortured, from an insurgents’ hole, and is promptly returned back to the States to a heroes’ welcome.

But is that all there is to it? A rogue CIA agent, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) has received a tip-off that an American serviceman has been converted by an al-Qaeda-associated group. Is this Brodie? Has he deliberately been freed so he can return to American soil as, in effect, a walking timebomb? Has patriot turned jihadist?

“Ten years on from 9/11, even though the power of al-Qaeda has been diminished, all these rogue factional elements have sprung up,” says Lewis. “So there are now terrorist networks operating in all these different countries with their own independent cells. And we’re just as likely to receive a terrorist attack from one of them as we are directly from al-Qaeda.”

“And I thought it was fascinating that there are high profile cases of British and American soldiers who have converted to Islam. John Lindh was famously known as the ‘American Taleban’, and is in fact still in prison in the United States. It’s absurd he’s still in custody.”

 

Read the full interview at the Scotsman.com website.

 

More Homeland press:

Digital Spy – ‘Homeland’ premieres to nearly 2m on Channel 4
Telegraph – Homeland, Channel 4, review
The Guardian – A brilliant, complex thriller, Homeland promises to be one of the hits of the year

 

Categories Homeland Media Print Media

Homeland: Damian Lewis adopts the patriot act, The Guardian, February 18, 2012

Homeland: Damian Lewis adopts the patriot act

How the flame-haired Brit became the star of TV’s heir to 24
by David Stubbs, The Guardian, February 18, 2012
Damian Lewis and Claire Danes in Homeland

Damian Lewis and Claire Danes in Homeland. Photo: Michael Muller/Showtime

Survey Damian Lewis‘s CV and you’ll find he’s had a string of roles that required him to exude a certain kind of laconic, tight-lipped, battle-hardened maleness, holding it together as things fall apart. In 1999, he starred as a lieutenant in Warriors, a BBC production about British peacekeepers. He then crossed the Atlantic and starred first as Major Winters in Spielberg’s Band Of Brothers, and then in Life as Charlie Crews, a detective imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Now, in new US drama Homeland, he’s playing Sergeant Nicholas Brody, a marine who, while held captive in Iraq, might have been turned by al-Qaida. It’s perhaps his most testing role to date, but one in which Lewis proves remarkably effective.

Continue reading Homeland: Damian Lewis adopts the patriot act, The Guardian, February 18, 2012

Categories Homeland Interviews Media Print Media

Time out Interview


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Within a few days, I’ve seen three sides to Damian Lewis. There’s the brilliantly gifted screen actor who plays Marine Sergeant Nick Brody, an American POW who may have turned Jihadist after eight years in captivity in Afghanistan in Channel 4’s gripping US import, ‘Homeland’. Then there’s the born stage performer at a Bafta Q&A, oozing confidence, playing to the gallery and toying with his questioner. And finally there’s the warm, thoughtful, self-deprecating guy sitting in the wood-panelled library of a London hotel. While many of his best-known characters have hinged on his mastery of suppressed emotion and underplaying, the man himself is rather more open. He explodes out of his armchair with excitement on discovering he’s getting a poached egg with his chicken caesar salad, but also sits in comfortable silence while pondering the psychological complexities of his latest challenge.

‘Well, I discussed with Alex [Gansa] and Howard [Gordon, show co-writers] the way in which Brody might have become a Muslim – and I’m not saying he has!’ he adds hurriedly, running his hand through his familiar and carefully tended red hair. ‘But it was important that it wasn’t a brainwashing, a “Manchurian Candidate”-type affair – that he might have found Allah as a force for good, a nurturing, sustaining, positive thing. I thought that would be far more interesting and powerful, and, as a prisoner of war, he would certainly have had more access to a Koran than a Bible. But this is a thriller, so you want provoke people in that way, putting this symbol of the upholding of Western belief systems into this situation. Seeing a man praying to Allah is enough for some people to assume he is a terrorist.’

His research took him to Brian Keenan’s chronicle of life in captivity, ‘An Evil Cradling’; to meet people suffering post-traumatic stress disorder; and to the London Central Mosque, where he was invited to sit in on prayers. His school days at Eton instilled in him ‘a watered-down, digestible Anglicanism’, but Lewis now feels he responds to different aspects of different religions. ‘I don’t believe Jesus was the son of God, although I’m inclined to think he might have been a great prophet.’ He massages his brow and strokes his chin, playing the philosopher with a pleasing lack of self-consciousness. ‘You know, I think I am faintly spiritual. I’ve had loss in my life, and I like to think my mother’s energy lives on in some faintly Buddhist way. I do find some comfort there.’

It’s undeniably unusual for a major American TV drama to address these issues in such a balanced manner, and ‘Homeland’ has clearly stuck a nerve. Golden Globes for Best Drama and Best Actress for Lewis’s co-star Claire Danes (and a nomination for Lewis himself), certainly, but it’s also Barack Obama’s favourite show and prompted an op-ed piece in The New York Times conflating events on-screen with current US foreign policy. Curiously, the producers also worked on ‘24’, one of the more reactionary takes on the War on Terror. ‘I always thought that was an easy allegation to make [about ‘24’], because it was a visceral, macho response to 9/11,’ Lewis argues.

 

Read the full interview at Time Out London

 

More ‘Homeland’ press:

BBC – Homeland stars say new series will be ‘compelling’
Telegraph – Gripped by the dark power of Homeland
The Periscope Post – Psychological drama Homeland is set to rivet Britain

Categories Homeland Interviews Media Print Media

Independent.ie Interview

 

Damian Lewis has been up since 7am, but is on remarkably fine form – and has an admission to make.

“You need to know I’m in my pyjamas, clasping a coffee,” he reveals, chuckling down the phone from America, where the working day’s just starting.

The London native, best known for being in The Forsyte Saga, Band Of Brothers and Life, has made North Carolina his temporary home for the past five months to film new US TV series Homeland.

In doing so Lewis has made the ultimate sacrifice – being apart from his family – actress wife Helen McCrory and their two children, five-year-old daughter Manon and son Gulliver, four.

“North Carolina is a beautiful place and I like it here a lot. But I miss my family when they’re not here with me, although they were with me all summer,” he admits in his clipped Old Etonian accent.

“I also miss London because I love London – it is the greatest city in the world. I miss the culture, the vibrancy and bombing around on my bicycle from one place to the next.”

An avid fan of Liverpool FC, he adds: “I miss Match Of The Day enormously, although in terms of actual football coverage, you can watch more football here than at home.”

Homeland, the Golden Globe-winning psychological thriller, which also stars Claire Danes and fellow Brit David Harewood MBE, was created by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa – the brains behind 24 – and is based on Gideon Raff’s Israeli series Hatufim (Abducted).

“The parallel with 24 is inevitable, but this is far more of a psychological, political drama. It’s something we don’t see often – plus you need a black man and a redhead on a show!” he quips.

Lewis plays US Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody, who has been held as a prisoner of war for eight years by Al Qaeda and presumed dead.

He is celebrated as a war hero on his return, but mentally unstable CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Danes) suspects he has been ‘turned’ into a sleeper agent and is now a threat to Homeland security.

“Ambiguity is a complex thing to play. You have to be lightning quick and nimble, there’s a mental and imaginative agility in the performance which is really fun,” says Lewis, 41.

“Inserting a bipolar disorder into the heart of a paranoid thriller is a brave move, as it conveniently allows us to judge Carrie. Is this man a danger to the United States or is she over-reacting? It’s intense. You’re going to love it!”

 

Read the full interview at the Independent.ie website.

 

Categories Homeland Interviews Media Print Media

Digital Spy Interview

 

One of the best and most talked-about US dramas of recent times debuts on Channel 4 this weekend – Homeland is a

scintillating psychological thriller, following a US PoW who is rescued after eight years in captivity and the CIA

operative (Claire Danes) who’s convinced that he’s been turned by a terrorist cell…

Digital Spy caught up with Damian Lewis, who stars as tortured marine Nicholas Brody, and David Harewood, who

plays CIA deputy director David Estes, for an insightful and revealing chat about what to expect from the Golden

Globe-winning show.

When you were first cast in Homeland, did you ever expect that the show would be such a massive success?

Damian: “You never know when you’re taking a job, ever… but you try to take good scripts. That’s

all you can do as an actor – take the best thing available. Even then, it’s not [really] in your control. Certainly

not in film and TV, because there are so many other elements. You just have to take control of your own performance.

But it was a good pilot.

“I’d lived in LA for two years and I said to my agent that I wouldn’t do any more network TV, because my family

and I had just made the decision to live in England. It would be a whole year in LA shooting network TV.

“But I said that if something really interesting in cable TV comes along and I’m lucky enough to be on a list,

then send it to me. And lo and behold, this showed up.

“I jumped [at it] so it was definitely a cut above, when I read it. But still then, you don’t know [if it will be

a success].”

David: “It’s extraordinary really, but I didn’t actually read [the pilot] until after I got the

job! It came through from my manager and I read the e-mail very quickly – I was doing a play at the time, at the

National. It was 14 pages – 5 scenes. So I learnt the scenes, put them on tape and sent them off. They obviously saw

it, and went ‘That’s the guy’.

“When I finally got the job, I thought I’d better sit down and read [the pilot]. As soon as I read it, I thought

it was fantastic. When you’re trying out for pilots, you read a lot of scripts, but this really stood out.

“It was different – it wasn’t cops or lawyers. There was something very different about it and I was very happy to

be attached to it.”

Is it refreshing to be part of a show that has so many moral shades of grey?
Damian: “Yeah, it’s what I was drawn to. In fact, I had a long conversation [with the writers] about

this US marine – it’s not immediately obvious [where his loyalties lie] but it’s clear that he’s become

religious.

“I said that it is far more interesting and far more subversive if that great symbol – a US marine, who goes

abroad to fight for our beliefs and our freedoms – finds it necessary to worship a different God, or God in a

different name, and become Muslim [through choice].

“I thought that was subversive, challenging and thought-provoking. I didn’t want him just to be a Manchurian

Candidate – someone who was brainwashed. I thought that was letting him off lightly and letting the show off lightly.

It’s a far more dangerous and interesting choice to explore why he chose this.

“And it’s possible to believe that ten years on from 9/11. None of us, remember, knew that 9/11 was gonna happen.

We didn’t live in a state of anxiety and fear about Osama Bin Laden. The CIA might have, and they failed to prevent

it. But the general public didn’t have any knowledge.

“Now we have knowledge of it, and it’s a very clear and present danger in our lives. It’s fostered an anxiety, a

paranoia, which is why this show is, I think, working so well now. Add to that the fact that the way in which our own

government perpetrated the war on terror hasn’t been universally agreed with. So it’s a greyer world, still, that

we’re in.”

 

Read the full interview at Digital Spy