Damian Lewis’ Henry VIII in Wolf Hall Has Killer Calves
by Jasmin Rosemberg – Variety – 19 January 2015
Henry VIII, infamous King of England in the sixteenth century, is often remembered for his gluttonous form, his string of wives, his disharmony with the Pope and his brute beheading spree. But Damian Lewis, star of the BBC’s new miniseries “Wolf Hall” — a six-part adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s prize-winning novels that will premiere in the UK on January 21 and on PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre on April 5 — plans to introduce you to a different sort of monarch.
“He was generally regarded as the preeminent sportsman of his era,” said Lewis on Sunday afternoon, at a quaint tea held at the British Consul-General Chris O’Connor’s Los Angeles home to honor the series. “He was one of the best hunters, horsemen, jousters, archers. And he was an incredibly trim, fit man — very proud of a fine pair of calves that he had. He used to boast that his calves were better than Philip the Fair’s of France.”
How did Lewis, fresh off of “Homeland,” hone his own physique for the role? “I stuck handkerchiefs down there,” he joked (of his calves), before adding, “No, I wore boots to cover them up.” He also grew a beard and donned square-toed boots, which he thinks “might set a new fashion.”
Weight gain, however, wasn’t a prerequisite. “He had a 32-inch waist for a lot of his lifetime, and he only really ballooned much later on, after a jousting accident… All this ‘ tearing bits of chicken flesh and throwing them over your shoulder’; it’s all nonsense,” added Lewis, who brings a charisma, intelligence and sensitivity to the slovenly ruler depicted in portraits.
A fan of the books, Lewis had previously worked on a BAFTA-winning drama about the war in Bosnia with “Wolf Hall” director Peter Kosminsky, who approached him. “The stars lined up,” said the London-born actor, who’s next headed to the Berlin Film Festival with one of his three upcoming films, Werner Herzog’s “Queen of the Desert” (also starring Nicole Kidman and Robert Pattinson), before taking on TV series “Billions” with Paul Giamatti, and returning to the West End stage.
And while he misses his “Homeland” friends and family, he had his fill of Nicholas Brody. “He was very draining to play, but also… it’s right that he’s not in the show anymore,” Lewis said.
Read the rest of the original article at Variety