The middle-aged Italian waitress clearly does not recognise the actor she is shouting at or, if she does, she has had enough experience at being a sour-faced waitress not to show it. This is the second time she has asked Damian Lewis to choose what he wants for lunch and it is the second time he has asked for a few more minutes. ‘Look,’ she says, with a fearsome shrug, arms spread wide. ‘We are busy. You don’t order now, then the kitchen, it become busy. You wait too long for your food. You get cross.’ There is a convincing logic here: the small, smokey cafe in London’s St James’s is indeed already crammed with people.
I assume Lewis will cave in immediately and just pick something at random, because it is exactly what I want to do. This woman scares me. But then Lewis has a head start on me. He knows how to play a man dealing calmly with fear. In Band of Brothers , the TV war extravaganza produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, he played an American soldier constantly facing up to fear with a quiet certainty. As if slipping into character, he raises his hands in a sign of mock surrender and, keeping his voice low, his eyes fixed on hers, says simply, ‘It’s not a problem. Just give us another minute and we’ll be right with you.’ She retreats and he breaks into a broad grin. ‘Wasn’t that great?’ He spreads his arms wide, shoulders up, in tribute to our waitress. ‘Looooook!!!’ he says, with just the hint of an Italian accent. ‘You want to eat? You order now !’
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