His blockbuster TV roles have made him a global star but Damian Lewis’s heart will always belong to north London. He speaks to Charlotte Edwardes
by CHARLOTTE EDWARDES |
Damian Lewis is not as charming as he first seems. And I mean that as a compliment. Sure he can schmooze: he remembers everyone’s name, their kids’ names, their mum’s name — given half a chance he’d ask after hip ops and bunions — and he’s a great giver of bear hugs, back slaps and pumping handshakes. After 10 minutes in the pub where we meet, he has the room eating from his paw. Not because he’s a Hollywood actor, a veritable red-carpet ‘celeb’ with blockbuster TV shows such as Homeland and Billions under his belt, but because he engages everyone. For instance, he identifies the indie rock on the sound system and turns towards the bar, arms wide, crying: ‘Oh my God, who likes The Shins?’ A busboy steps forward and is congratulated. It’s great theatre.
But in truth, Lewis is a bit angry. And no I’m not reducing him to the cliché of the fiery redhead; he says this himself. He’s angry about big things: greed, selfishness, prejudice. But also smaller things, such as bad driving (‘Makes me crazy!’) or the street lighting in Tufnell Park (‘Why can’t we have lovely charming ones like Canonbury?’) or litterbugs (which he would definitely argue was a big thing). ‘I’m not averse to telling people off,’ he says. And do they reply, ‘Hold on aren’t you…?’ ‘Ha! No. It’s more: “Who the hell are you and why are you telling me what to do?”’