by Tom Chamberlin | The Rake Magazine | February, 2018
In an exclusive interview with The Rake, Damian Lewis tells Tom Chamberlin why we all, in spite of ourselves, love an anti-hero.
Lewis – from Life to Homeland, Wolf Hall to Billions – has become the finest purveyor of modern drama’s moral ambiguities. In fact, writes Tom Chamberlin, if you can think of an actor who has influenced our golden age of television more than him, speak up…
Among the more ambiguous archetypes of the celluloid age, that of ‘leading man’ is perhaps the least defined. Far from the specific criteria of commedia dell’arte and melodrama, in which the characters are demarcated (bad guy = black hat and moustachioed, etc.), the leading man is purely subjective. Arguably he is the origin of celebrity, pulling screen presence into the limelight of fame. But the list of leading men over the years has shown that no colour, size, hair, manner or cultural identity has ever had dominion over the sobriquet. That is until Damian Lewis entered the fray. For Lewis is a man who, above anything else, is an exemplar of leadership and integrity at a time when the acting world could use a dose of it.
Damian Lewis takes charge of rooms when he enters them. Photoshoots with celebrities are often led by either the photographer, who squeezes every image he or she can from the available time; the stylist, whose job is to make sure a well-curated variety of clothes appears in the magazine; or the publicist, who tends to be the powerbroker. The ‘talent’ can often struggle through the day (except, of course, former Rake cover subjects), regarding the experience as a necessary nuisance. Not so with Mr. Lewis.