Categories Interviews Print Media Run This Town

Damian Lewis on playing Rob Ford – March 5, 2020

He Was a Troubled Soul

by Mark Daniell | Toronto Sun | March 5, 2020

Billions star Damian Lewis plays the late Rob Ford in the new political thriller Run This Town. But down the line from the U.K. to promote the film, he wants to make it clear that it isn’t a straight biopic of the former crack-smoking Toronto mayor.

“This is a film about the younger generation around him in Toronto,” Lewis says. “It’s about the younger millennials who were affected by working for someone like Rob Ford.”

Written and directed by Ricky Tollman, the film pools together ambitious journalists and editors alongside social-climbing political aides as it dramatizes the scandal that plagued Ford’s steward as Toronto mayor.

In reality, it was Globe & Mail columnist (then a reporter at the Toronto Star) Robyn Doolittle who broke the story. Tollman’s film gender-swaps the character, casting Ben Platt (Netflix’s The Politician) as a struggling reporter who chases the infamous crack video in a bid to get out of writing top 10 lists.

Aladdin star Mena Massoud and Nina Dobrev play two assistants to the mayor, desperately trying to keep Ford’s behaviour under control.

“The film is mostly interested in the aftermath and trauma of being so close to a human wrecking ball like that,” Lewis, 49, says. “What does it do to you when you work for someone who behaves that way? That’s what the film is about. Of course, the film is a thriller, too, because everyone is trying to find out exactly what went on, which is why I loved it.”

Continue reading Damian Lewis on playing Rob Ford – March 5, 2020

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

Categories Interviews Print Media Spy Wars

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

Categories Helen Interviews Magazine Print Media Spy Wars

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

Categories Interviews Print Media Screenings Spy Wars

Damian Tells of His New Docudrama Series Spy Wars and His Take on Ian Fleming’s Hero – Sept 21, 2019

The World of Espionage: Traitor or Hero?

by Dalya Alberge | The Guardian | September 21, 2019

His award-winning performances have included the hit espionage drama series Homeland and he is among actors tipped to take over from Daniel Craig as James Bond. Now Damian Lewis has taken on his first role in a television docudrama about spies, whom he describes as “often quite grubby and banal”, a world away from the glamour of 007.

The Hollywood star presents and produces the eight-part show about some of the most significant espionage operations of the last 40 years. The series features undercover agents – some still identified only by their code names – who were persuaded to tell their stories for the first time.

“I find the different reasons for turning traitor or being a hero, depending on your view, are often quite grubby and banal. I’m interested [in] the motives of these spies. That’s the series we’ve tried to make,” Lewis said.

Continue reading Damian Tells of His New Docudrama Series Spy Wars and His Take on Ian Fleming’s Hero – Sept 21, 2019