Categories Homeland Interviews Print Media

Damian Lewis Bikes in His ‘Homeland’ – Oct 5, 2011

From Recycling to Bicycling 

by Gerri Miller | Mother Nature Network | October 5, 2011

When he’s home in London, Damian Lewis bicycles everywhere because it saves money as well as energy. “We have a congestion charge in London. If you take your car to the center of town you gotta pay 15 bucks,” he explains, noting that parking is another $7 an hour. But lately, Lewis, who recycles wherever he’s living, is in North Carolina, shooting Showtime’s new drama “Homeland,” playing a Marine newly returned home after eight years as a POW and suspected of being “turned” by terrorists who held him captive.

“I enjoyed the contradiction that someone who’s a hero in the nation’s eyes could be that person. That’s a thrilling premise for any show,” says Lewis. “It’s not just about the CIA catching terrorists. It’s a character piece about multiple complex issues, like identity on a political, national and spiritual faith-based ideological level and mental frailties, and how one reconnects with family. As fun as it is to just just be in a thriller I was intrigued that it wanted to tell a broader story.”

His character, Sgt. Nick Brody, has come back to a wife who thought he was dead and has taken up with his buddy (Diego Klattenhoff). “It’s overwhelming for both of them and I’m glad we’re addressing that in a serious way,” notes Lewis. Other plot elements show him behaving erratically and resisting the Marine Corps’ wishes for him to be a poster boy for heroism and re-enlist, all the while being watched on planted surveillance cameras by CIA case officer Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), who’s convinced he’s hiding something (one of the rather unexpected things he’s hiding is revealed at the end of the second episode).

Lewis, last seen on American TV in the NBC series “Life,” about a wrongly incarcerated cop who returns to the force after years in prison, sees similarities between that role and his current one, noting that both are about men held captive for a long time and return from the experience changed men. But “Homeland” being a cable show, there are certain differences. “I show my ass a lot more,” he laughs. Cable also doesn’t require the seven-year contracts common in network television. “That’s more problematic from a family point of view, because we’re not going to go live in L.A. for seven years,” he explains. “I told my agent, ‘If a great cable show comes along, let me know.’ I’m so lucky this one did.”

Read the rest of the original article at Mother Nature Network

Categories Homeland Interviews

Philly.com interview

On TV, he’s a certified American military hero, first as Army Maj. Dick Winters, the central character in HBO’s epic 2001 mini-series, Band of Brothers, now as Marine Sgt. Nick Brody in Showtime’s riveting Homeland.

Off camera, he’s a Londoner of Welsh extraction, an Eton grad and Royal Shakespeare Company trouper.

There are times when even he gets confused.

“On the weekends, I’ll wake up, go to the store, do some errands and realize, ‘I’ve been talking like an American all day,’ ” Damian Lewis, 40, says by phone from L.A., where he’s shooting the eighth episode of Homeland.

Curiously, it’s the weather that causes him to toggle between his true self and his adopted persona.

“When it’s cool at home, I’m Celsius. I go, ‘Oh, my God, what is it, like 8 degrees outside?’ When it’s hot, I go Farenheit. Then it’s, ‘It must be 85 degrees out there!’ “

He hadn’t realized that he was playing a serviceman on cable for a second time until it was pointed out to him.

“That’s superficial to me,” he says. “They’re such radically different people in radically different circumstances. In terms of military bearing, yes, I find similarities. For a dithering actor like myself being able to play military men who are trained to make decisions quickly and act on them decisively is very therapeutic.”

To play a tortured POW like Homeland’s Brody takes some commitment.

“I lost a lot of weight for this,” Lewis says. “I wanted to be skinny. I’m not the most buff dude on the block, but I thought for truthfulness, this man has been in a hole for eight years. It would be ridiculous for him to take off a shirt and see a gym body.”

He also did extensive research on post-traumatic stress disorder.

“So many guys come back with an inability to have a tender, loving relationship with their wives. And sometimes an inability to love their kids,” he says. “They look forward to seeing them and then they’re shocked and confused by their own lack of interest.

“And that’s just from a 12-month tour of duty, from being engaged in live fire in that rough, all-male setting. Imagine being a POW for eight years and being brutalized that whole time.

“Brody is treated as a war hero but he’s carrying a massive secret,” continues Lewis. “Carrie Mathison [Claire Danes] is convinced he’s not everything he appears to be.”

Read the full interview at Philly.com

Categories Homeland Interviews Media Print Media

Collider.com Interview

 

Question: What attracted you to this show and this character?

DAMIAN LEWIS: Well, what I read was a thrilling psychological and political thriller with a CIA agent convinced that this hero who returns, having been a POW with Al Qaeda for eight years, might have been turned by them and is a terrorist. I just enjoyed the contradiction that someone could return a hero in the nation’s eyes, but possibly not be that person. That is a thrilling premise. That is a great set-up, for any show. As the first chapter of your novel, that takes you to the next chapter.

This show is not just about the CIA catching terrorists. It’s not about that. It’s a character piece. It’s about more complex issues. It’s about family and identity. It’s about identity on a political, national, spiritual, and faith-based ideological level. It’s about identity on a more intimate, localized level, in regard to family and relationships with your loved ones. It also deals with mental frailties. It deals with mood disorder, in Claire Danes’ character. It deals with post-traumatic stress disorder, in my character. It deals with how one reconnects with family. The motif of parents and children runs through the piece. As fun as it is to just be in a thriller, where you jump from one incident to the next, I was intrigued by the fact that it wanted to tell a broader story as well.

If you’d gotten the same role and it was 22-episode run that was much more grueling and a much bigger commitment, would you still have been interested in the part?

LEWIS: That is a conversation that the networks have repeatedly, as to whether they should start producing 12-part series, instead of these 22 to 24 episode series, in order to get the stars to come do their shows. It’s a big commitment to ask someone to work on one role for nine or 10 months of the year. It does affect your decision-making, definitely.


How do you compare this to previous roles that you’ve played?

LEWIS: Oddly enough, there are similarities with this show Life that I did for NBC, a couple years ago, about a man who goes away. In the case of Life, he was sent to prison and spent 12 years there, and came back a changed man, in some way, from his experience. In this show, he’s a prisoner of war for eight years, and he comes back a changed man. I’m still very sad that Life didn’t go longer. It was one of the better shows on TV, that year. If you look at what NBC had, it was definitely one of the better shows that NBC had. NBC was crazy to cancel that show.

In England, we can’t make this kind of TV. We don’t have the resources. We actually don’t have the writers to write it. We don’t have film and TV language in our DNA, in the same way you guys do here. The big concept, in telling it compellingly and entertainingly, but in a psychologically real and complex way is something we don’t come up with as often as you guys do. So, for me to be here is a thrill.

Do you feel that cable is a little bit more freeing?

LEWIS: Well, they show my ass a lot more. I’ve noticed that. And, I’ve seen Morena’s tits, and that’s weird. But, that’s Showtime. No. If cable wants to distinguish itself from network, just by showing tits and ass, literally, then that’s sad. At times, you do wonder, if that’s the only distinction. It’s like, “Well, we haven’t seen anybody’s bottom in three episodes, so we need to write that scene.” But, is that really so important? No. For personal reasons, because I’m a Brit, I live in London. I don’t mean this grandly, but it was never my intention to live in L.A. and do a big network show. I did Life because it was just so good and I couldn’t say know to it. I really just wanted to do it.

 

Read the full interview at Collider.com.

Categories Homeland Interviews

Time Out Chicago Interview

As an unknown in Hollywood, Damian Lewis took a meeting more than a decade ago with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. It landed him the career-boosting role of Maj. Richard Winters in HBO’s Band of Brothers. Now the 40-year-old English actor plays another American soldier, though a very different one: In Showtime’s new series Homeland, Lewis stars as Sgt. Nicholas Brody, who returns home after eight years as a prisoner of war in Iraq. But CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) thinks the war hero may have been recruited by Al Qaeda. Lewis spoke by phone, between getting acupuncture and flying home to his wife and two small kids in London.

You’re shooting in Charlotte, North Carolina. What do you make of the American South?
It’s charming. People are very friendly, very open, very chatty. Little bit of a reliance on fried food.

We as viewers believe your character could be a hero or a traitor. You’ve said, “I guess I’m good at playing repressed individuals…all that bubbling energy bottled up inside.” Why do you do well in this type of role?
’Cause it means I never have to make a decision. [Laughs] I can be pointedly vague about who I am. In this case, he’s been broken emotionally and physically, spiritually, psychologically, and he comes back suffering an extreme dose of post-traumatic stress disorder and carrying this great secret, which is that—well, I won’t actually reveal what it is. The series plays with the idea that maybe he’s not a force for good, that he means harm.

It’s rare for a series to suggest an American soldier’s loyalty could be questionable, that he could be turned by Al Qaeda.
It’s a contentious issue. Certainly it’s not anyone’s intention to diminish what the soldiers have done since 2001. Politically, it’s left of center, the show, it’s a liberal viewpoint about what happens when you are witness to extreme violence and you’re in a vulnerable state of mind. A prisoner of war in the Middle East would have a Koran available to him more readily than a Bible, and he seeks spiritual guidance in Allah. The series has a responsibility to denounce the idea that just because you’re a Muslim you are a terrorist. That’s part of the great ignorance of the last ten years, which has been an unhappy result of the 9/11 bombings. He finds Islam, but he may have discovered a more poetic, beautiful, honorable, generous and charitable kind of Islam, and a kind of Islam that a lot of Americans don’t believe exists.

You say left of center. That’s radical for American TV. So are the suggestions that war-hero worship can blind us to unwelcome truths, that the CIA isn’t simply good.
This series sits in the thriller genre, and the key elements for a thriller are fear, anxiety, paranoia. But on a more important political level—down here in the South, you’re surrounded by army families. A lot of these soldiers return from war traumatized. They are of course welcomed as returning heroes, as they should be, but what this show tackles is the personal cost and what it’s like for soldiers to come back to families who have moved on. A lot of these families don’t come back together because the damage is too great on both sides. So that slightly explodes the myth of a returning triumphant hero.

Especially since the hero here is seen as possibly having become “the enemy.”
Our soldiers for the last ten years have been exposed more than the rest of us to an Islamic culture. A young American soldier who has been exposed to Islamic culture for the best part of ten years is a good representation of a factional element that has decided to act against what some people see—and this is a very liberal view—as terrorist acts perpetrated by a state. This series doesn’t shy away from exploring this notion, that whilst we defend our freedoms, there is arguably no greater terror than being in a small Afghan village or in Iraq and just out of nowhere a silent drone appearing and detonating, that there are people on the other side of the world living in terror as well.

Did you speak with soldiers who’d served in the Middle East or anyone who’d been a POW?
I’ve spoken to serving soldiers. I did not manage to speak to a POW. The overwhelming sense I got from soldiers is that there’s no point trying to describe what happened because nobody here can understand. And there’s a sense of entitlement, that you’re allowed to behave how you like because of what you went through. Most shocking of all: wanting to love your children and your wife but finding that you feel numb towards them.

How are you negotiating your U.S. and U.K. lives and careers?
When I was in L.A., and I was there frequently after Band of Brothers, I was a little bit scared off [by] the corporate nature. L.A. still ranks as one of my guilty pleasures, along with butter-pecan ice cream and Coldplay albums. We always knew in my family we would go back to London. Coming here to do this show was a big, big decision. I could see what an explosive and provocative show this could be.

Source

Categories Interviews Media Print Media

New interview in The Times

 

The actor has no regrets about leaving Tinseltown for the mean streets of Manchester — and a spot of fishing

It’s given that most actors don’t have two ha’pennies to rub together. The London-born actor Damian Lewis seems keen to show he’s not one of them — during the interview he holds two pounds coins, clicking them together to punctuate points he is making. It might be a nervous affectation or a show of ostentation. Given the shiny blue suit and polished brogues that he is wearing at BBC TV Centre, it might well be the latter. This is after all, the actor who was thrust into the spotlight in the epic Spielberg- produced mini-series Band of Brothers in 2001, became an overnight sensation, the most famous screen redhead since Shirley Temple, and was whisked off to Hollywood in the wake of that show. But Hollywood didn’t quite work out, and after some dud films and a cancelled TV series, he is back in Britain, his latest role in a BBC TV film Stolen, an earnest, quietly moving film about child trafficking.

Is he drawn to these more serious subjects? After all, in 2004 he starred in the intense film Keane, about a man who loses his daughter, which was hardly a laugh a minute.

“You saw that?” he says. “That makes two of you. The answer is yes and no — after Band of Brothers I made a film called Dreamcatcher, about aliens exploding out of people’s bottoms, so I do like a bit of popcorn with my caviar. It was very exciting, it was a big studio movie, an $80 million movie, and it was … it was awful! And a film I just did, Your Highness, is sort of like Porky’s meets a medieval spoof. Toby Jones, he was so upset, he was so unhappy to be in it. I had to talk him down from the ledge a few times — he has to wear a naked suit where he has no penis.”

 

Read the rest here.

Categories Interviews Stolen

New Guardian Interview: Damian Lewis: Top of the cops

He made his name playing troubled soldiers and driven detectives. Why has success left Damian Lewis so unsatisfied? He talks heroism and home life with Maddy Costa

Subtlety and restraint are Damian Lewis’s hallmarks as an actor. His ability to convey a character’s innermost thoughts with just a flicker of an eyebrow is even more impressive when you discover how animated he is in real life. When we meet, in a chi-chi members’ club in west London, he has a pint of coffee working through his system, and that natural energy is comically amplified. His accent careens from Prince Charles to Jamie Oliver, as he talks about his guilt at not doing more theatre, the appeal of playing policemen and soldiers, and the satisfactions of domesticity; he alternates between supreme self-confidence and genuine horror at what he thinks is coming across as his own solipsism.

Some of this internal tussling stems from his turning 40 this year. This has, he says, encouraged in him “a new-found seriousness about what I do”, as well as a desire to “explore more than just the showing-off element of acting”. His latest film, Stolen, which screens on BBC1 on Sunday, is visibly the work of a man muzzling his ego. Stolen revolves around three children who have been trafficked to the UK; Lewis plays Anthony Carter, the detective inspector attempting to trace their whereabouts. Though Carter is central to the narrative, the character’s range is limited. “He needs to be undemonstrative and unshowy,” explains Lewis. “The focus needs to be on the children.”

What grabbed him about this part was the story’s political dimension and the promise of the director, Justin Chadwick (who made The Other Boleyn Girl), that the finished film would be visually arresting. Usually, Lewis says, he likes working in TV, despite the lower wages, because “narrative is everything. I like the precision of the storytelling, and that it’s done through characters.” Stolen was an opposite experience: he is proud of the film because of the way it looks – there is a poetic quality to the camerawork that raises it above a bog-standard issues drama.

 

Read the rest at The Guardian.

Categories Interviews Media Personal and Family Life Print Media Stolen

Damian Lewis: Top of the Cops – June 27, 2011

Damian Lewis: Top of the Cops

He made his name playing troubled soldiers and driven detectives. Why has success left Damian Lewis so unsatisfied? He talks heroism and home life.

by with Maddy Costa – The Guardian – 27 June 27 2011

Damian Lewis
 ‘I wasn’t humble enough’ … Damian Lewis. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

Subtlety and restraint are Damian Lewis’s hallmarks as an actor. His ability to convey a character’s innermost thoughts with just a flicker of an eyebrow is even more impressive when you discover how animated he is in real life. When we meet, in a chi-chi members’ club in west London, he has a pint of coffee working through his system, and that natural energy is comically amplified. His accent careens from Prince Charles to Jamie Oliver, as he talks about his guilt at not doing more theatre, the appeal of playing policemen and soldiers, and the satisfactions of domesticity; he alternates between supreme self-confidence and genuine horror at what he thinks is coming across as his own solipsism.

Continue reading Damian Lewis: Top of the Cops – June 27, 2011