Vogue Archive: No Place Like Homeland
“Do you know, I think you might wear a suit better than any man I’ve ever met.” In the intimate and strangely forbidden confines of a lift at the National Theatre, Helen McCrory’s heavily made-up hazel eyes are drinking in her husband’s tall, tailored frame.
“Thank you,” he replies, faintly awkwardly, looking down at the same Tom Ford tuxedo he wore to accept the best actor Emmy award only last month. “Does this mean you want me to do all the washing-up for a week?”
A gypsy laugh bubbles up from deep inside McCrory’s tiny dancer’s body.
“No, my darling, of course not! Just the bedtime stories…”
It’s a rare day of togetherness and, despite a stoic, unwaveringly professional determination to get the photographs absolutely right – freezing winter winds notwithstanding – Mr and Mrs Damian Lewis are enjoying every minute of this short holiday from work and the parenting of their two children, Manon, six, and Gulliver, five. Curling herself into her husband, McCrory locks eyes with him as he puts a protective hand between her shoulder blades and gently rubs her slender back. They seem in a little world of their own on the top of Waterloo Bridge, talking quietly and constantly to each other, oblivious to both the photographer’s lens and the gawping Londoners who keep falling into the traffic in their astonishment at getting a real-life Homeland fix in the middle of the week. When one frazzled woman with a pushchair stops dead in her tracks between the couple and the camera and stares, open-mouthed, at the nation’s favourite redhead as if he were a painting, they laugh tolerantly until she manages to pull herself together. This, after all, is their reality. And, for a couple who were recently invited to a state dinner for David Cameron at the White House and were sat not, as they had suspected, somewhere “between the kitchens and the loo” but on President Obama’s table, nothing is terribly surprising. “He did, yes. Yes, he did. He did say it was his favourite programme,” Lewis later admits, between hungry mouthfuls of chicken stew and gulps of red wine in a nearby South Bank brasserie.
It’s a public-school thing apparently, this speed-eating. And presumably that’s where the awkward modesty comes from, too; an Old Etonian awareness of the vulgarity of boastfulness. Always deflate the situation, Lewis’s upper-class upbringing appears to have taught him, with a healthy dose of self-deprecation: “Oh, I’m quite sure everyone will go off Homelandsoon. When it gets to the seventh series and Claire Danes and I are like a twisted version of The Waltons, living in the middle of nowhere with our seven ginger children.”
Lewis is never more than a few sentences away from a joke – “a great sense of play”, according to his Homeland co-star Claire Danes – and it falls to his wife, three years his senior at 44, and herself a master in the art of the deadpan (“The really good thing about having babies, as I did, when you’re 75 is that you’ve had a chance to establish your career first”), to gently praise his achievements. Thus, when Lewis admits how eaten-up he would have been if he had turned down the television show and watched another actor enjoying the heady levels of success he is currently experiencing, she puts a firm hand on his arm and purrs: “But darling, the point is that it wouldn’t have been so brilliant if you hadn’t done it.”
Even if you don’t happen to be one of the millions of people who describe Homeland as the greatest, edge-of-your-seat television show of the modern era, you have to admit that McCrory is right. Lewis’s Brody is a masterful creation; a soldier turned terrorist turned double-agent with an inscrutable inner landscape and a flawless American accent. So flawless, in fact, that fans who approach him – constantly, and with no regard for the fact that he might be in the middle of his lunch – can’t quite believe he’s English.
Read the rest of the article at the British Vogue