How Homeland Star Mr. Damian Lewis Struck Gold for a Second Time with Billions
by Mr. Simon Mills | Mr. Porter | February, 2017
Photography by Mr Jon Gorrigan
Styling by Ms Eilidh Greig, Fashion Editor, MR PORTER
He’s a truly transatlantic citizen, is Mr. Damian Lewis. A nationality-fluid, dual persona – a true Brit for half the year and an Uncle Sam adoptee the rest of it. He may have been born in north London, educated at Eton College and served his time at the Royal Shakespeare Company, but when filming scenes as Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody in Homeland or, more recently, as hedge fund hustler Bobby Axelrod in the Showtime series Billions, the Style Council member embeds himself culturally and linguistically in North American life – goes to ball games, wears “sweats” and “sneakers” and calls women (ironically) “broads”.
The accent he adopts for the character he’s playing isn’t dropped when the filming stops. He keeps it going when talking to the crew and catering and stays in full American drawl for interviews, taxi rides, grocery shops and restaurant orders. Really good actors can do this kind of thing. Mr. Lewis says it helps him focus on the roles in hand and puts everyone at ease on set. Jumping in and out of accents, he says, would feel “awkward”. But not everyone is impressed. “I once did a US TV interview in my American accent and somehow it was seen by quite a few of my friends back in England. There were several irate text messages. ‘You’re British. Stop talking like an American!’ It has become second nature to me now and I am happy to do it,” he shrugs. “That said, if I am with Brits, I come out of it pretty quickly.”