Categories Interviews Print Media Spy Wars

Lewis Pulls Covers Off Espionage – Nov 4, 2019

From Espionage to History

by Debashine Thangevelo | Cape Argus / IOL / International | November 4, 2019

Damian Lewis is a recognizable face on the big and small screen. Of late, he has been praised for his roles as King Henry VIII in Wolf Hall and Bobby Axelrod in Billions. He was also cast as Steve McQueen in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood. And let us not forget his role as Nicholas Brody in Homeland.

Having covered a gamut of genres, from espionage to history, it does make his latest stint as a narrator for History’s Damian Lewis: Spy Wars almost surreal.

“This Mossad mission, I’m sure 98% of people watching won’t have heard of this story. So, I think it’s a little glimpse through a window of what they did; it’s an incredible story. You will sit and watch and be utterly engaged. I think that’s true of all our stories. Even the Argo story – we come in from a slightly different angle with a bit more backstory, from the intelligence part of it rather than the film making aspect of it.”

On being a part of this project he adds, “As soon as you put yourself in front of a camera, or in front of an audience, as a performer, there’s a whole intricate web of thoughts that run through your head – how you want to be presented and how can you successfully be a credible part of your show, your story, whatever it is – and we had to work quite quickly.”

“I was flying in and out of New York from Billions and we had a budget, obviously, we had to be aware of.”

Continue reading Lewis Pulls Covers Off Espionage – Nov 4, 2019

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Boarding School Creates a Mild Sociopathy That’s Helpful to the Life of Espionage – Oct 4, 2019

Damian Makes His First Documentary Spy Wars With His Brother

by Lisa Campbell | iNews | October 4, 2019

Few British actors have set foot inside Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia, but as the star of the American spy thriller, Homeland, Damian Lewis was granted unprecedented access as part of his research.

While he jokes that his meeting with the director of the CIA, John Brennan, is “classified”, the story demonstrates his ability to get under the skin of characters through keen observation of the tiniest details. He describes the “incredibly poker-faced field operatives who had revealed only the smallest increments of expression and emotion, until Brennan walked in and the temperature in the room rose instantaneously.”

It’s an experience that stood him in good stead for his latest project, Damian Lewis: Spy Wars, which also marks his first foray into factual television.

The eight-part series – the first to come out of Lewis’ newly-launched Rookery Productions – airs on History from Monday in the UK and showcases the true stories and remarkable characters behind some of the most important international spy operations of recent years.

“I’ve done a lot of research over my career for Homeland and a movie I made, Our Kind of Traitor, and have read my John le Carre like everyone else. I enjoy the genre and thought it was an opportunity to look behind these popular stories and find out something a bit more intimate and personal about the people themselves, their decisions and the ramifications on global politics,” he says.

Continue reading Boarding School Creates a Mild Sociopathy That’s Helpful to the Life of Espionage – Oct 4, 2019

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Spy Wars: TV Real Interview – Oct 3, 2019

Spies Next Door

by Mansha Daswani | TV Real, World Screen | October 3, 2019

Damian Lewis talks to TV Real about what appealed to him about the docudrama, which is being rolled out by A+E Networks.

Lewis already knew a fair bit about espionage before signing on to executive produce and present the A+E Networks U.K.-commissioned series Spy Wars. He did, after all, play an MI6 agent in Our Kind of Traitor, based on the John le Carre novel, and a U.S. prisoner of war who returns home and is hailed as a hero as he secretly plots a terrorist attach in Showtime’s Homeland. Damian Lewis: Spy Wars sees the British actor recounting notable stories of espionage from the last four decades, spanning from the Cold War all the way through to the contemporary war on terror. The eight-part series produced by Alaska TV in association with Lewis’s own Rookery Productions sees him speaking directly to camera and features expert interviews and dramatic reenactments.

TV REAL: Tell us about the genesis of Spy Wars. How did you come to be involved in the show?

LEWIS: My brother [executive producer Gareth Lewis] was already involved, he was going  to be directing parts of it. He said, Do you want to do this? I said, I don’t really do factual, I’m not a presenter. But I got sucked into these eight spy stories. I came on as a co-producer and tried to get to the bottom of what makes a man or woman do heroic or traitorous things on behalf of their country. That was it really. It came to me by invitation and my curiosity was tickled.

TV REAL: As you got into the details of these stories, what were some of the things that surprised you?

LEWIS: To be honest, a lot of what happens in the spy world is pretty unscientific. There’s still quite a lot of buccaneering and derring-do, if you like. It’s not risk-averse. It’s pro-risk, and often it can seem a bit chaotic, a bit ramshackle, and even at times a bit amateurish. Exotic words like “dead-drop” and “brush past” and things like that can simply be someone walking into a supermarket with the same plastic bag and putting it down and then each leaving with each other’s bag. It’s not exactly high-tech. While you’re looking for a slightly more sci-fi, James Bond aspect to these stories, they don’t exist. So the challenge for us was how to make the stories gripping and suspenseful. We tried to get into the minds of the individuals and what was at stake for them. What are the documents in that bag? What happens if that individual is caught? Why is the individual doing it? If the individual is a KGB officer and he’s caught, he’s going to be executed. If he’s a Western intelligence officer, he’s going to be imprisoned for life. We were trying to find out why these men and women are motivated to do these things. The motivation is often grubby and personal. It can be for simple revenge, a need to be heard, a need to belong to something, to be loved. People turn traitor for all these different reasons. So the surprise was constantly the grubbiness! And the desperation that’s there. And the extreme risk that these people are prepared to take in order to keep going.

Continue reading Spy Wars: TV Real Interview – Oct 3, 2019

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Radio Times Magazine Interview – Oct 2, 2019

Could the Next James Bond Be Ginger? The Famous Redhead Rules Himself Out

by Kristy Lang | Radio Times Magazine | Issue: October 5-11, 2019

In a five-star hotel suite high above the City of London, Damian Lewis and I have a ginger bonding moment. As a fellow redhead, I’ve long admired his rise through the acting world. Not many gingers get leading-man status, but after starring in series such as Band of Brothers, Homeland and Billions, Lewis is big in American.

We’re meeting to discuss his first venture into the world of documentaries, fronting and producing a series about spies on the History channel.

Lewis, now 48, was born in London but was sent to boarding school at a young age, which, he thinks, would make him a very good spy.

“If you are sent away from your family at the age of eight, it gives you a rigor, a dissociative quality that is extremely useful for spies because they have to be able to shut down parts of their emotional life. That’s why the British secret services actively recruited public schoolboys. Guy Burgess is the most extreme example of that. He was flamboyant, charming and mostly drunk – how he didn’t reveal what he was doing is a mystery to me.”

Continue reading Radio Times Magazine Interview – Oct 2, 2019

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The Real Stories Behind Some of the World’s Most Intriguing Espionage Cases – Sept 27, 2019

Spy Wars: kNOw More Secrets

by Nicole Lampert | Weekend Magazine | September 27, 2019

Damian Lewis thinks he would probably make a good spy, partly because of his schooling. Some of Britain’s best known spies – and traitors – went to public school, and the Eton- educated actor isn’t surprised.

‘If you’re sent away from home at the age of eight and you’re asked to cope with that situation, I think there’s an instinctive compartmentalising of one’s emotional life,’ he says.

‘That’s very helpful to a covert life of espionage. It helps you develop a mild sociopathy, which is clearly what spies need to have. Often they’re living multiple lives, not just double ones.

‘I think I’d be a good spy, better than James Bond, who’s a rubbish spy,’ he adds, despite being one of the favourites to take over the role from Daniel Craig.

‘What’s brilliant about Bond is his recovery. Each movie is two hours of him getting himself out of a massive mistake he made quite early on.’

It’s little wonder he’s fascinated by spies. He won acclaim as soldier-turned-potential-terrorist Nick Brody in Homeland, and was cast as MI6 agent Hector in the film adaptation of John le Carré novel Our Kind Of Traitor.

But as outlandish as those stories were, they don’t compare to the twists and turns in the real spy dramas he explores in his first documentary series, Damian Lewis: Spy Wars.

Continue reading The Real Stories Behind Some of the World’s Most Intriguing Espionage Cases – Sept 27, 2019