Acting: A Leap of Faith
by Bryan Appleyard | The Sunday Times | April 11, 2015
It’s not carroty red, but it is indisputably red. I’m no reddist, but I still feel we need to get this out of the way — after all, he has bravely tackled this fraught subject in the past.
“People find it very difficult to be indifferent to red hair,” he once said. Emboldened, I plunge in.
“So, Damian Lewis, what is it about red hair?”
“Well, I was never bullied at school because of it. I was lucky because I was sporty, and I had status and profile within the school [Eton]. Now I get letters from children who get teased about their red hair and they ask how I managed.”
Having survived childhood unscathed, it wasn’t until he found himself working with the Royal Green Jackets on the television drama Warriors that he first endured the full force of institutional reddism in the military — “I experienced witty and scatological abuse all around, being a redhead.”
Times have changed, however; red rights are widely accepted. Maybe he is destined to be the redheads’ Martin Luther King. “The redhead stock is very high at the moment. This might be a unique moment in recent history: redheads everywhere are doing well — Prince Harry, Ed Sheeran, Julianne Moore, me, Lily Cole…”
Damian Lewis gets the royal treatment in ‘Wolf Hall’
Homeland veteran Damian Lewis transforms into King Henry VIII in PBS Masterpiece’s six-part Wolf Hall—it premiered April 5
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Do you think British people know the story of Henry VIII better than Americans?
Damian Lewis: In terms of brand recognition, Henry is right up there with Coca-Cola. But people think they know all about him—that he had six wives, that he was inclined to cut their heads off when he didn’t get what he wanted. What we see in Wolf Hall is much like the books: very quiet, very still. Very political. It’s much more House of Cards than Game of Thrones.
Had you read Wolf Hall before signing on to the series?
Yes, and I loved it. I just love this intimate peek behind closed doors, at a part of Tudor history we think we know. Hilary’s inventiveness and her imagination and the psychological tickings of these characters are great. And it’s been so much fun to act—it’s fun to alter some perceptions.