Emmy awards 2012: Damian Lewis hails ‘golden age of television’
It was a very British way to collect an Emmy: take to the stage of American TV’s landmark award show and say sorry for winning the best actor gong.
“I’m one of those pesky Brits, I apologise,” said Damian Lewis, recognised for his portrayal of US marine Nicholas Brody in Homeland, the taut US terrorism thriller that transfixed audiences on both side of the Atlantic, and dominated the Emmys at the expense of Mad Men and Downton Abbey.
“I don’t really believe in judging art, but I thought I’d show up just in case. What an extraordinary honour to be in a category with these golden actors setting a golden standard in acting, in a golden age of TV,” he said.
Nominated alongside Lewis for best actor were Steve Buscemi, John Hamm and Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville. But while the ITV tale of aristocracy and their servants has proved a US hit – taking four Emmys in 2011, including best miniseries – it largely failed to turn its record 16 nominations into awards after what many felt was a disappointing second series.
It fell to Dame Maggie Smith – adored for her eye-rolling, lip-pursing, eyebrow-raising turn as the dowager countess in the Sunday night drama – to uphold Downton Abbey’s reputation with the gong for best supporting actress in a drama series, beating off competition from fellow cast member Joanne Froggatt.
But the night belonged to Homeland, which took four awards including the coveted Emmy for best drama, against both the much-fancied Breaking Bad and the serial Emmy-winner Mad Men.
Claire Danes, whose performance as the unstable US intelligence officer Carrie Mathison in the drama has drawn widespread acclaim, took the leading actress Emmy, giving Homeland a clean sweep of the biggest awards.
The tale of a US marine, released after being held by al-Qaida for eight years, saw Danes and Lewis cross and double-cross each other as the CIA officer attempted to uncover Brody’s possible involvement with al-Qaida, while coping with her own declining mental health.
“It’s way cool that Barack Obama is a fan of the show. It speaks to the relevancy of the show and it’s hugely validating,” said Danes of the US president’s reported fondness for the show.
Aired on Channel 4 last spring, the first series of the show attracted large audiences who developed ever-more complicated theories as to how things would finally fit together. After a perhaps slightly frustrating finale, it returns for a second outing this autumn.
Lewis paid tribute to his co-star, thanking Danes along with other cast members. “The cast that I work with who are delightful and enjoyable to dine with but [thank you] especially to the two ladies who’ve suffered me the most, Claire Danes and Marina Baccarin. You’re both beautiful and it’s enjoyable working with you, every minute of it,” he said.
The actor then went on to thank his family. “The biggest thank you of all to the leading lady of my life, Helen McCrory. I adore you darling, thank you for being here,” he said.
“My two children at home thought daddy had been nominated for an Emma. Well, Manon and Gulliver, Daddy just won an Emma.”
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