London, The Goat, and Meeting Damian Lewis

The times I can see Damian in person are few and far between. It was at Damianista’s urging, i.e. pretty much taking me by the hand and flying me out to NY, that my first “sighting” and “meeting” even happened. (I have no idea what those quotes mean or why I used them, just go with me here) I vacillate often between “I’d be fine if I never saw him in person again, good riddance to that level of stress-filled gut-wrenching fangrl angst” to “Fine, I’ll see him on stage or something, but no reason to talk to him privately, is there? Can’t we be normal people for once and just go home and not talk to him?” to “OMG, when are we going to see him again, in what circumstances, for how long, can we possibly have it go longer, and what if…etc. etc. etc.” Truthfully, I spend about equal parts brain energy on those three states of fangrl-ness. Quite similar, in fact, to the brain energy allocation of an average 17 year old girl around prom time.

So, when we heard about The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? coming to London and started talking about it, there I was, torn among those three states. “I’ve got a sister right outside London,” I said. “I can stay with her!” And maybe take a couple weeks and see London, make like I’m 19 again, but, this time, somewhat have the money to do all the London things I’ve never had the chance to do. “Make it about London and not just about him,” said the part of my brain reserved for how crazy all THIS makes me look, justifying the insanity of all THIS by diluting it with a legitimate sight-seeing trip to a legitimate world capital city with loads of things that interest me anyway, even if it weren’t Damian’s home town.

It all started clicking into place. Damianista, as is her wont nearly always, was IN. So plans were made. And Damianista came up with a brilliant idea of a gift to give him when we see him. “When we see him?” I was still asking. “How about if you go and see him and leave my very much weaker constitution at the gate? Surely the stage experience alone will require some rest? You can tell me all about it after,” I said. “No,” she said, “when WE go see him, WE can give him this thing WE’ve gotten for him.” I knew my protests were for naught, and I proceeded to want to help put together the gift, but, as is her wont, she did all the heavy lifting. All I did was drive the package over the pond, get it to the framer, and voila, there we were assured that we wouldn’t be visiting Damian Lewis empty-handed.

All thanks for setting up the meeting go to Michael, Damian’s personal assistant in London, for making initial arrangements, and to Rosie, one of the theatre managers at Royal Haymarket, for being our very kind host while we visited.

Arrangements were made, I set off for London, and, by gosh, saw it all, and then some. Not to say that there is not more left to see or I couldn’t spend another glorious two weeks visiting all of these places again. It’s a great town. Sort of a marriage between NYC, with its food, theater, and fun neighborhood-centric ethos, and Washington D.C. with its history and art collections, all available for the price of a tube ride. Really not a complaint to be had, walking everywhere or jostling for standing space on trains, fueled by nothing but coffee and the occasional train station pasty (London = not a town you want to go carb-less), spending hours and hours with history and art, often ending my days near the Thames, having late afternoon libations while the same refrain of that one Clash song played in my head whenever I saw that river.

One late night, I passed by the part of the south bank where Damian and Helen had that VogueUK photo shoot and where the scene of Hector on the phone in Our Kind of Traitor was filmed. So, yeah, London means The Clash and Damian in nearly equal measure to it meaning Churchill and the Blitz, the Royals and the Tower. Such are the interesting ways one’s brain gets divided up into neat neighboring compartments.

Damianista got to town the day before we’d be seeing the Thursday matinee of The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? at Theatre Royal Haymarket. She picked up our gift for him, we met and set off to deliver it to Rosie at the theater before the show.

Now, guess who we happened to run into at stage door as we were delivering the package? Helen McCrory! We nearly didn’t recognize her at first, this tiny woman in a big hat, chatting away with some other women. When we did, the chat was soon hijacked over to us: who we were, what we were delivering to Damian. She was so sweet and so very normal, with a captivating directness to her, carting boxes of shoes home for her kids, talking to the other women about the pronunciation of her daughter’s name (turns out we all have been pronouncing it wrong), her wanting to get home since her daughter wanted to try singing and had to go to lessons.

She very kindly let us take a pic with her. I took a couple shots. She looked at them, then grabbed my phone, started clicking away and we squeezed in for another pose. She said she had a way to make us look like we were all seven. LOVE HER! Then she apologized for not being able to take off her hat due to terrible hat hair. She very warmly shook our hands and we were off to see the show. What a treat on top of a treat!

After we saw the show, we met up with Rosie again, this time so she could escort us to the room where we would meet Damian and could watch as he opened the package.

So, Rosie leads us through the maze of stairs behind the scenes at Royal Haymarket and we’re lead into a kitchen-y sort of space with some ikea-looking chairs and a pile of books on a side table. Is it just me, or do you, when entering a new room, gravitate towards whatever books or other reading material are laying about in that room? Never fails, such stuff always catches my eye. On closer inspection, we saw that it was a pile of books by and about Edward Albee. Meanwhile, Rosie had gone to fetch Damian, closely followed by Damianista hearing him approaching in the hallway. I quickly put the books down and steeled myself up for impact. His first words after cordially greeting us? “Oh, you brought your Albee books.” Hehe, so fun for him to think we carted our Albee books over to meet him.

Must admit that seeing him this time was far less nerve-wracking than the first time I saw him in NY, with a room full of handlers and such. This time it was just him and the two of us and it was like he had invited us into his personal sitting room for a nice chat. And chat we did, about a variety of things: the play (how exhausting it must be), his Guardian interview, a bit about Bobby Axelrod, a bit about meeting Helen earlier and Peaky Blinders.

He asked us about our collaborators, how many we had, who they were. He said it’s a good thing that multiple people are blogging, and that it’s great to blog about one person, lots of folks have fan blogs, but we take it further by making it a bit literary and a space where we can be creative. Why, thank you, kind sir!

It was a very pleasant chat, which went by very very quickly. Rosie had told us earlier that he was tired and needed to rest between the matinee show and that evening and he did seem a bit under the weather, but, still, just as charming and friendly as anyone could ever be. (We learned later, of course, that he was nursing an issue that actually kept him from performing that Saturday’s show, just two days after this meeting… rendering us all the more grateful that he made time for us even when he wasn’t feeling well!!) The time came for him to open the package and voila:

So, here’s what we did, rather, let’s be truthful here, what Damianista did. 🙂 She found playbills for every single stage production he’s been in from Rope and Romeo and Juliet in 1993 to The Goat in 2017.
It was a months-long search, from Amazon to Ebay to rare theatre programme stores in the UK. She found all but two playbills. Then, she had a digital print company take photos of the covers of the playbills and put them all together into a poster. For the two missing playbills, she gave the printmakers online photos of the productions. Damianista then sent the finished poster to me and I carried it over to London and dropped it off to be framed. Damianista also brought over all of the playbills she found and gave those to Damian along with the poster.

He loved his gift and said he was, at the moment, finding things to hang on his walls after a renovation, and this poster would be going right up. He flipped thru some of the playbills with Rosie, and we had the chance to eavesdrop a bit on them sharing their memories of folks they’ve worked with in the past. He sighed seeing himself in Romeo and Juliet and I remarked “You were just a baby!” He said, “Yes, the same age Archie (who plays his son in The Goat) is now.”

Needless to say, we were over the moon! Then, sadly, seemingly seconds after it started, the visit came to an end. The remainder of the evening, punctuated by a fabulous dinner at Bull & Last, was spent skipping around town like we were on a cloud, which, of course, we were.

We saw the evening performance the next night and could not resist another brief visit afterwards, this time with the rest of the fans waiting outside stage door. We’d forgotten to get our programs signed the day before, you see; we weren’t being greedy, honest! 🙂 This time we managed to also meet the lovely Jason Hughes and Archie Madekwe as well.

Before giving us his John Hancock and letting us take selfies with him, Damian slipped to us that the poster was already hung up at home. Another cute tidbit: I wrestled with him a bit for the selfie, saying I wanted to be on his right because that was my good side. He wouldn’t have it and said “Don’t worry, you’ve got three good sides” and snapped the adorableness you see below.

In short, in case you had any doubts, Damian in real life is just as he appears in interviews: a charmer, a gentleman, a prince among men. Also, captivating, sweet and decidedly very normal. 🙂

Can not leave this post without a hearty THANK YOU to Damianista for sharing this entire dream! None of it would have been possible without her energy, enthusiasm, and sheer endless capacity to keep it all going stronger and stronger every day. Love ya partner!! <3<3<3

 

35 thoughts on “London, The Goat, and Meeting Damian Lewis”

  1. What a lovely post! Thank you Jania, and of course much appreciation to Damianista, you both did a wonderful job presenting His Gingerness with such an appropriate and apparently much appreciated gift. I certainly enjoyed reading it and could almost feel I was there with you….probably the closest I will ever come to meeting him. Keep up the good work ladies!

    1. Thank you Connie! Oh, don’t count yourself out yet. I have a feeling, now that he’s back doing stage consistently, for the past two years at least, in between TV seasons, there will be more opportunities to see him on stage. So very worth it!!

  2. delicious writing, as always! and beautiful pictures! the one I like the most is the one with three of you and the poster, he looks so consumed and so happy 🙂 he must have been very tired after finishing the play without intermission, and meets with you despite having another one in a few hours, it says a lot about our guy, no? well, it says a lot about y’all and the blog, too, I guess.

    1. Thank you! Yes, a real trooper our guy. He was clearly sick, so much so that he had the understudy stand in for him on Saturday. Yet, he still made time for us. Have never tried such things with any other celebrity, but, I think it’s safe to say, not many would be so kind and generous with their time.
      Also, you’ll see when you see The Goat, how draining the role is….he’s ON the entire time. Emotionally exhausting even sitting in the audience, I can only imagine his exhaustion playing the part. But, he clearly loves it. And we love him for loving it!!
      I do love his smile in all these pics! 😀

  3. Merci,votre récit est merveilleux!Mon Dieu,que les photos sont belles,vous etes tous magnifiques! Je ne suis pas étonnée,de lire,a quel point,Damian est simple,gentil,pas prétentieux!Sans le connaitre,et uniquement en voyant ses photos,je l’avais jugé ainsi!
    C’est affreux,je l’adore de plus en plus!!!
    Monique

    1. Translate:
      Thank you, your story is wonderful! My God, that the photos are beautiful, you are all beautiful! I’m not surprised, to read, to what extent, Damian is simple, nice, not pretentious! Without knowing it, and only seeing his photos, I had judged it so!
      It’s awful, I love it more and more !!!

      Me:
      Merci Monique! He is indeed the least pretentious or self-conscious celebrity one could ever meet. It is awful sometimes how the love has no end. The best kind of endlessness. <3

  4. Wow, wow, and wow! Thank you so much for sharing this experience. I will admit I knew of it after it happened, but you just brought so much life to the whole thing! I can imagine the cloud you both were on after the meeting!

    And, can I say what a kind, sweet man DL is? So genuine. I believe we picked a good one to blog about!

    🙂

  5. Und das Leben ist doch gerecht………… !!
    Ich finde es einfach nur super, welches Glück Ihr Zwei hattet. Ich freue mich so was von mit Euch. Ihr macht Euch soviel Arbeit und gebt bei jedem Bericht Euer ganzes Herzblut und legt Euer gesamtes Wissen und Können in diese Seiten, das es meiner Meinung nach so was von in Ordnung ist, dass Ihr nicht nur eine persönliches Treffen mit ihm hattet, sondern auch noch seine wunderschöne Frau getroffen habt. Ich bin ja ganz begeistert von ihrer Ausstrahlung, eine wahnsinnig herzlich aussehende Frau. Wow. Man kann total nachvollziehen, dass er sich in sie verliebt hat.
    Es ist so schön, zu wissen, dass es auf dieser Welt Frauen gibt, die sich trauen für eine Überzeugung so einzustehen, wie Ihr es tut. Macht bitte weiter so, dass macht einfach nur Mut.
    Es macht die Welt reicher an Liebe und das ist schließlich das einzige was wirklich zählt!
    Allerherzliche Grüße aus Deutschland !!

    1. Translation:
      And life is just ………… !!
      I think is just super, which luck you two had. I’m so happy with you. You do so much work and give your heartbreak in every report and put all your knowledge and skills into these pages, which, in my opinion, is so orderly that you not only had a personal meeting with him, but also His Beautiful woman. I am very enthusiastic about her radiance, a madly looking-looking woman. Wow. One can totally understand that he has fallen in love with her.
      It is so beautiful to know that there are women in this world who dare to stand up for a conviction as you do. Please keep up the courage.
      It makes the world richer in love and that is the only thing that really counts!
      Greetings from Germany !!

      Me:
      Goodness, such richly beautiful words to hear, even in the broken English.:) So true, this entire adventure is all about LOVE, for this man who captured all our imaginations, and now, our love for each other. <3

    2. Dear Petra,

      We cannot thank you enough for your kind words that have just brought tears to my eyes: “It is so beautiful to know that there are women in this world who dare to stand up for a conviction as you do. Please keep up the courage.”

      I always thought we were, at least I was, ahem, CRAZY. Now I know we are also courageous! 😀

      Thanks so much for reading us, for your support and love. We are in this altogether and we would be not much without the support and love we have been seeing from all of you beautiful people from every corner of the world. THANK YOU <3

  6. Oh, what a lovely story this is. Filled with joy and envy, all at once! I am so glad you both had a safe and lovely trip, and so glad that everything worked out, logistically! And bonus Helen meeting-what a sweet woman she is. I am so glad that Damian has the best wife ever-he deserves nothing less(and she kinda won the lottery as well, ya know 🙂 )

    A sweet gift to a sweet man from a couple sweet ladies. I am sure it lifted his spirits!

    (Not gonna lie, a bit tickled that he asked about all the contributors….)

    1. Oh, yes, he wanted to know all about you guys!! You’ll just have to tell him your stories in person one day soon 😀

        1. “Oh, Holliedazzle? She is an epic weirdo, you’d LOVE her!” Kidding! I said, in a nutshell: “Holliedazzle is a stage performer herself and she mainly writes about your acting techniques.”

          1. Either would have been accurate 😀 But thank you. It’s very exciting that he wanted to know!

  7. Chicas…mi sueño se hizo realidad en vosotros.!!! gracias por ésta reseña! Maravilloso encuentro. Bellas fotos . Acaricia el alma saber de su felicidad. Damianista…..genia!!!

    1. Gracias Analia.
      So happy to share this amazing event with all of you. Without you reading, we quite possibly wouldn’t be here!

  8. WOW! WOW! WOW! I know I was there but still WOW!

    A number of THANK YOUs are in order.

    First: Thank you for putting this together. Thanks to you, I will not need to pinch myself anymore about any of this. It was REAL.

    Next: Thank you for going from “can’t we be normal people for once?” to your 17-year old self with me! I know I am a constant 17 year old and my energy and enthusiasm can, in fact, be overwhelming, so thank you for bearing with me every step of the way! I guess being a bit crazy is a prerequisite for doing a blog like this, don’t you think? 😀

    Finally: Thank you for sharing every moment of this incredible experience with me! You are not only an amazing partner, you are a beautiful friend, and I will not forget the couple of days we spent together in London — from the Goat to meeting with Damian to visiting Henry VIII’s house to eating at J. Sheekey to staying at that bar on Leicester Square after the stage door until 1am or so!!!! You had a train to catch to your sister’s and I had a plane to catch early in the morning, and we could not have cared less! <3

    ps. I saw Lewisto's comment on the post. I am still giggling about my husband calling Damian "our guy." Indeed. 😀

    1. In so many ways, he’s more normal than we are! Yes, it takes a certain craziness to do this. But I wouldn’t have it any other way!!
      Could not have imagined sharing this experience with anyone else but you! <3<3<3 (btw, never told you about that train I had to catch...who knew that marlybone actually closes and the trains stop running?...guess that's one big way London is different from NYC :D...luckily friendly cabs were there for out-of-towners like me...the driver even refused a tip at the end of the hour long ride :D:D:D)

      1. OMG! Had no idea! Then London is a city that sleeps after a certain time… which is unacceptable for New Yorkers 😀 So glad you were able to get a cab, but you could have always shared my room and my mobile heater, you know. Hehe.

  9. You might need to mop me up now, because I have melted into a puddle after reading this ^___^ Aww both of my man crushes – Damian and Jason <3 And I'm so glad you got to see the play and have fun in London ^^ if you get to come again – hit me up ^^

    1. Aw, so sweet of you to offer. 🙂
      Don’t know why we didn’t stop to get pics of Jason and Archie too. They did stop to chat a bit too. And we were floored to learn that this was Archie’s first performance. And that Jason had a charming Welsh lilt. He told everyone there that we’d been a great audience. One thing to BE in the audience, a superlative other thing to know that the performers actually respond to the energy WE create in the room. A magical experience, all around!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I always thought I was crazy but now you have made it nice and easy: it is just courage 😀

  10. I’m so jealous i really wanted to see the play, and of course meet Damian Lewis
    I Love the picture you gave him how thoughtful.

    1. Thank you so much, Lyndsey! We are over the moon that he genuinely loved the gift. It is too hard to beat live theater as a performance but it is only the lucky few that can geographically and economically afford it! Screen is much more democratic in that sense. Having said that I really REALLY want Damian to do a play on Broadway. And a great fan suggested, if something like that happened, we the rabid fans should coordinate and go on the same night and STORM that theater. Fingers crossed!!! Now I wrote all that assuming you live in the US. Hope you do! <3

  11. D’ista and JJ’s excellent adventure! Thanks for taking us along to visit your old pal. Your posts are so authoritative, Jania, that I wouldn’t have seen your shy side. Adorable!
    We’ve all (well, some of us more than others 🙂 looked old photos with a sigh; I loved that moment. You go, Girls!

    1. Me, authoritative? If so, then it’s all a well-researched ruse. 😀 I come from a long line of scaredy cats, and often I feel myself a bit of an extrovert in an introvert’s body. Anyhoo, such things as the encounter shared here are once in a blue moon events. Anyone can be courageous for 10 minutes every other year. 😀

      1. Hehe. I love the fact that our posts make some fun impressions on our readers. JJ is authoritative. I can’t help wonder what kind of impression I make!
        But, hey, if it’s our old pal, why would we be shy anyway? 😀

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