The Many Faces of Damian Lewis: Part 2

Sometimes an actor will find themselves type-cast, and the reasons for this can vary greatly. It can be the fault of a narrow-minded industry, a lazy agent, an iconic role that they find impossible to be divorced from, or simply from the actor’s own lack of range.

We are all lucky to be fans of a man who has not experienced this. Damian has had the pleasure of embodying many different types of men. And while so many of these characters have some sort of overlap(just how many times has he put on a military uniform now??), he has used his incredible skill set to create a different, iconic character in each role. Specifically, I want to talk about how he uses his body language to create believable characters that resonate.

“Don’t underestimate the importance of BODY LANGUAGE!”

Ursula wasn’t wrong. Let’s talk about how Damian used his whole body to create Bobby, Brody and Charlie. To understand my analysis, I have to explain a little more detail about Delsarte. The Delsarte system maps human expression in the body, and its universal meaning. I’ll quote my instructor, Joe Williams, for a moment:

“Does it make sense to you that a person can be described as a combination of Body, Mind and Spirit? It is rather common language today. Nearly everywhere you look, there are promotions for classes, products or articles whose intent is to nourish or inspire the Body, Mind and Spirit. It is not difficult to imagine that the basic impulses of a human being are survival instinct, intellect, and that mysterious harmony we call spirit. In Delsarte training, one learns that body, mind and spirit are not esoteric ideas, but very real and very practical forces in the body, with very specific locations in which they show themselves.”

In more modern terms, I tend to favor the terms mind, heart, and vitality. As I broke down Charlie, Brody and Bobby by their faces/head alone, I was using these three elements. These three elements occur not only in a person as a whole, but also within each individual part of the body. Within the head, Bobby was ruled by his mind, expressed through his forehead. Brody was ruled by his heart, expressed by his eyes, and Charlie was in harmony, as he used all three seamlessly and appropriately. This language continues through their whole bodies. Let’s talk about Mr. Mind-Bobby Axelrod.

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Bobby is clearly lead by mind, as well as a bit of vitality. His swagger of a walk, head down most times, is very much an example of that. His head swivels as he walks, taking it all in. He is not going to take his eyes off the game for one second. Even the percussive nature of his steps-within the leg, the foot is your mind! He stomps around like a man who knows what he wants, and gets it. Hear him coming? Move out of the way! His chest, the heart zone, is hardly ever prominent. Many times, his arms are crossed over it. His most favorite finger, the index finger, is the mind finger. He points a lot. He pounds that finger into the table or desk during discussions. Or even “pokes” Dollar Bill in the chest with it.

Oh that scene. I think I could write a whole post about that scene. Superbly executed! So well written and performed. That, my friends, was art! And a 100% clear example of what these posts are all about-body language can be the most important part of any interaction. If your words and your unspoken words don’t line up, there’s deception!


I loved him in this moment of triumph.  He was so confident, so open. His heart is exposed, but really what is most prominent is his vital upper arms and his underarms.  In Delsarte, I have learned that underarms are the equivalent of your groin. So what’s really on display in that position he’s in? Oh my!

Bobby tries desperately to always appear this powerful, but he’s rarely anything but. Sure, he has climbed his way to the top. Not just climbed, but CLAWED. And it shows. His posture is stiff and tense. While he is trying to be strong with his presence, this tension gives him away. Tension is the opposite of power.

Balance of the trinity-mind, heart and vitality, is power. And power is what Charlie has.


I know for a few of you, you’d never thought about Charlie’s power. He’s strange. He’s quirky. He spouts zen phrases and answers questions with more questions. But this all is distraction from the very truth of his power. Charlie is relaxed. He is honest. When he talks to people, he faces them straight on. Not in an agressive way, head down, like Bobby. But with ease, full eye contact, neutral.


We do see, at times, his zen fail him. It happens in a few different ways in the episode “Fill it up”. As he heads to confront the man who killed his friend and his friend’s family he’s stiff, he’s rigid. His jaw is tense, his shoulders are squared but tense. His walk is purposeful-his casual, easy strut is gone. His posture is rigid. He literally throws the zen out the window!

Life -- "Dig a Hole/ Fill It Up" Episode 10/11 -- Pictured: Damian Lewis as Charlie Crews -- Photo By:Dean Hendler/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

In the beginning of that episode, he returns to the prison that he was trapped in for over a decade, and you can see how his spirit dips, just being inside of it. His eyes look sad, his shoulders are rolled inward. You can tell that this place, physically being back inside of it, brings back his pain. While outside of the prison, he is free. But the pain of his incarceration is not far from his mind. It was brought up during conversation on part one of this post-he couldn’t even bear the thought of having a fence around his property. He doesn’t want to dwell on the past, but it’s not like it doesn’t hurt.


Using faith or spirituality as a survival method is something we also see in Brody. When Brody’s world is spinning out of control, he turns back to the thing that brought him sanity, purpose, and calm during a horrible time. He goes from spending hours up against a wall in his bedroom, trapped in a PTSD flashback, to somewhat in control. The changes in Brody we see once he is able to start praying again, speaks to the peace and strength his faith gives him.


Brody still struggles at times, though. He is still a bit unpredictable, prone to outbursts. Prayer does help him find some balance. Or, at least, enough balance to get through the day without pounding his best friend’s face into the ground.


Ok, sometimes it doesn’t work. But hey, no one is perfect 🙂

We can see, through his disengagement, his rage, his inability to interact correctly, how Brody is having a hard time letting people in. He has trouble finding the intimacy he needs to be kind and gentle with his wife, partly due to the brutality he faced, but also due to the betrayal he feels over her involvement with Mike.

But he does find some kindness for a couple people. His daughter, Dana, seems to find a way through his pain immediately. I’ve thought a lot about it. How can he relate to this sassy little teenager? What makes it so easy for him to sit on her bed and laugh with her?

Morgan Saylor as Dana Brody and Damian Lewis as Nicholas "Nick" Brody in Homeland (Season 2, Episode 7). - Photo: Kent Smith/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: Homeland_207_5048

I think that he relates to her because of her rebellious spirit. He is being told what to do, how to feel, what mission to follow. Kind of the same way a teenager is told how to act, to be responsible, to overlook fun and what you want to do, for what you should do. I have to wonder how much Dana is actually like a pre-military Brody? Does he see his former wild spirit in her?
You see him open up to her, and its rather touching. He might be rather broken, but are there parts of him that still work? I think we see those most with her.


And of course, with Carrie. I feel like the moment that had Brody, hook, line, and sinker, was when Carrie met him in that parking lot. Before the rain fell, they had this interaction:

Brody: how come its so hard to talk about it to people that weren’t there?

Carrie: I have a better question-how come it’s so hard to talk to anyone who wasn’t there about anything at all?

He knew she got it. He knew she understood. Suddenly, when the ground was falling out from under him, there was someone to call.

He looks relaxed and confident with Carrie. His posture is calm and powerful, his eyes make contact with hers, his smile goes all the way up into his eyes. The tone of his voice matches the expression on his face. He has so many deadpan deliveries of either mean, sarcastic phrases(“get Mike to build the fence, he’s handy!”) or false jubilation(when celebrating Chris’s blue belt with Mike), its nice to see real feelings. In the season one finale, he tells Carrie that she gave it all up to him, but that also holds true for him.

Well, that’s part two!  Join me in the comments for some discussion, and let me know what other analysis you’d like to see.  I get the feeling that they want me to stick around or something… 🙂

15 thoughts on “The Many Faces of Damian Lewis: Part 2”

  1. I love the way you describe, so, the 3 characters, Damian, magnificently embodied!
    Characters, different, but with similarities, you have well you described very well!
    Too bad, that because of my poor English, I can not comment more, your reports, but anyway, thank you for everything you make every day!
    Merci beaucoup

  2. Holliedazzle, your post simply… dazzles! 🙂 “When you words and your unspoken words don’t line up, there is deception.” I love THIS. And when there is Damian, there is no deception!

    Mr Mind: Underarms as the groin??? HAHAHA. Oh my indeed! He has one of his favorite sayings on display, huh? “F*** you. All of you.” I just find it fascinating how you find his power + tension in the posture. I find it in his socioeconomic background. Bobby is blue collar. He is new money. I wrote it a couple of times in my posts that new money is always anxious. New money is scared that he will lose everything and needs to live with that possibility. And his claws are out as soon as he feels the risk of losing. He fights much more aggressively to keep what he has. Because money is all new money has, all status goes with it. Old money is sticky. Status stays even when the money goes. And you almost find this story in the posture. Fascinating. This is all about where we are coming from and how we are looking at this guy. You are an artist and looking at his posture and seeing his story. I am a social scientist and I am looking at his standing in the society and seeing his story. But at the end of the day, we see the same story. This is one of the things I love the most about this blog and the wonderful people writing here.

    Mr Power: I am one of those people that did not think much about Charlie’s power. You are right. Now that you are talking about his mind + body + vitality I can clearly see Charlie is Mr Power. But I think it’s also the case that I watched the entire show (36 episodes) in a week or two. I did not really have so much time to focus on Charlie. As I said before, I think I will make Charlie my summer homework! There is so much to see and learn from him. Your way of explaining how he “throws zen out of the window” as he re-enters prison to see the guy who killed his friend: I need to see THAT!

    Mr Broken: Brody’s body language with Jess, Dana and Carrie is all different. I cannot think of anyone else but our own Mr Chameleon that could do this with Mr Broken.

    Bottomline: I really need to watch it all again and see THIS. There are bits and pieces I have been able to see as well — like Bobby using his index finger gives me the giggles because I always use it when I get pissed — but this very detailed analysis is too tempting not to go back and understand it even more deeply. As if I need another reason to re-watch 😀 😀 😀

    PS. Oh yeah we really want you to stick around <3 New idea and I steal it from your post: Damian in uniform. What does he do to make these guys different? Bookworm has already done a great post comparing the minds of Brody in Homeland and McGrade in Colditz. I am curious how body use contributes to their psychology. 😀

    1. He does have very different body language with all three women. With Jessica, he has that pain of “what could have been”, the old love that he might have given up on ever seeing again, a very intense intimacy that is more complicated, now, with his time away, his trauma, and her dealings with Mike. Some of the resentments he holds, too, toward her might be what makes him swing in to be Dana’s hero. He might also just kinda LIKE being her hero, as it obviously bothers Jessica. A little passive aggressive, but its like my BFF says “Hurt people hurt people.”

      His language with Carrie is pretty incredible. Knowing that she KNOWS and understands what he has been through, is tremendous.

  3. Love this analysis!!!
    Have you seen Wolf Hall? All together unique body language there. His wide stance as Henry VIII. They way he stretched to fill up all space. He wasn’t wearing a fat suit, but he seems to take up the entire screen nonetheless, all thanks to incredible costuming and incredible body work. The flick of the hand indicating when supplicants could rise? What a masterful performance that was!
    Yes, please, do stick around, won’t you? 😀

    1. Yes! I have seen it. I need to do a study of two kings with Bobby vs Henry! Henry, alone could fill an entire entry! He is very vital, and very regal. We study a principal called the “royal muscle” in my Three Pillars Delsarte study with Joe Williams, and Damian definitely engages his royal muscle to achieve the look of royalty and cool confidence. It’s a muscle up the back of your neck/head. Its pretty amazing how you go from “meh” to “wow!” when you engage it. Always makes me look like a Queen 🙂

  4. Went to take a peek at some Henry photos on google image search…even the way Henry was dressed was vital. The puffy parts of the clothing over the vital upper arms and legs. He always moved very vitally, if I recall, as well. Vital movement is forward. Side to side(think of swaying) is heart…did we ever see Henry sway?

    1. Hands on the hips, feet wide apart. The robes may have swayed, but he never did. I’ve seen actors stomp around to show determination (I’m thinking of Scandal, where there’s always a lot of stomping going on). But Damian as Henry didn’t have to stomp to show his power and ownership. He bellowed, he projected. He was a force to be reckoned with (while still showing sad boyish confusion underneath, who couldn’t understand why he just couldn’t make a son like all the other kings can. There’s a scene with Henry and Cromwell in his hunting house. Thomas has just advised him on how to deal with the monasteries, he’s planted a bug of an idea that Henry didn’t think of (he didn’t think of a lot!). In the hunting room, Henry projects his arm out for Thomas to help untie (the clothing was tied back so as not interfere with archery). And then he breaks down a bit, talking about Ann. fabulous scene. He was always moving forward, projecting his body into all the space around him.
      Go back and read our stuff about Wolf Hall, if you can’t watch. But, do watch! And then write about what you see! As an actor, you bring a necessary viewpoint into all this talk of what makes an actor a great actor. 😀

  5. This is fascinating. If I had ever heard of Delsarte then I forgot. Wonderful work to include in acting training. I wonder if any was in Damian’s training at drama school?

    I see how Delsarte was a precursor to the acting teachers who became very famous like Stanislavski. Probably influenced pretty much everybody. And he influenced the dance world, I read. Probably why all acting teachers tell us to go out and observe people, how they move, their behavior. I read he was an acknowledged influence on Jerzy Growtowski. I remember pictures of the extreme physical postures his actors would assume for characters. I don’t see how they kept from injuring themselves. But look at what Bradley Cooper did in “Elephant Man”. His face changed from doing it. He needed lots of massage after performances.

    This is so interesting how you can look at Damian’s different characters and then explain the meaning of different postures and expressions whether Damian did it intentionally or just instinctively. Or was directed.

    I’ve never heard the underarms mentioned as exposing a vulnerable area but it does feel like that. I believe a major point in the heart meridian is in the armpit in Chinese medicine.

    I read that Jessica Lange studied mime very early on in France and it has influenced how she moves in roles. She has very expressive, fluid movement.

    I was coincidentally just watching a video of a body language expert dissecting film of Lance Armstrong being interrogated and interviewed. I watched it after seeing “The Program” with Ben Foster. He pointed out when Lance seemed to be telling the truth and then when he was lying or withholding. Lance had a rehearsed repertoire of techniques and phrases to distract, buy time to think or deny. He had “tells”. Giveaways he couldn’t control that belied his efforts. Body language is fascinating. He discussed Lance’s body and language and even Oprah Winfrey’s in “that” interview. When you’ve lied so long and held such a huge secret I think it is very difficult to not have “tells” as Lance did. From making his lips disappear into a tight line (very uncomfortable) to trying to appear smaller and self-comfort by folding in on himself with arms and legs. Tiny little giveaways like minute smile and nostil flaring. Oprah’s head started leaning back in disdain and then she caught herself and snapped her head forward. No wonder poker players try not to do anything in case they reveal something. But some say they all have a “tell”.

    I love how you point out all the differences in Damian’s characters. Yes, Henry in Wolf Hall does everything to expand and take up space and be majestic. Big clothes, big postures. That muscle up the back of the neck you mentioned – yes, he has that ramrod neck and back and sort of rotates his head. I loved one tiny moment where I saw Damian wince as he was walking away to indicate pain he might deal with after his accident (which may have included TBI, traumatic brain injury).

    This Delsarte technique would give great ways to find a character. Moving a certain way can affect how you feel. And you describe ways Damian uses his face – tension or no tension. And in film there is a lot of just close-ups so that’s what you have to work with. I’ve always loved actors making unusual and unexpected gestures. I saw Patti Lupone in Chekhov back in the 70’s with The Acting Company in TN and a gesture she made had such as impression on me. I had to go up to her afterward to compliment her. She wasn’t famous yet.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge of this teaching and then looking at Damian’s work through that lens. You’re going right to the horses’s mouth studying the father of modern acting’s technique.


    1. Its interesting that you bring up the poses. Delsarte become incorrectly known for these melodramatic poses. Unfortunately, those poses probably started in truth but then, through the lenses of others, became distorted, rigid, and poor representations of the core Delstartean principles. Sadly, its the legacy that remains and my teacher, Joe, with his Three Pillars Arts, is bringing the practice, in true form, back to life. I am currently reading Joe’s book on it. He addresses the poses and how they have stigmatized Delsarte.

      Its also funny that you bring up Stanislavski. Delsarte is the exact opposite of his technique. His technique, and method technique, state that you have to FEEL in order to EXPRESS. Where Delsarte says that when you EXPRESS, it will make you FEEL and make others feel, as well! It has science to back it up, in many ways, as well. How they promote “power poses” that actually change brain waves and mood. How smiling, even when you feel bad, releases endorphins to make you feel good. What we do, how we move, ripple from the outside to the inside. Its also a very protective way to practice. I don’t need to imagine, or feel pain, to express feeling pain. And that’s good! These method actors hurt themselves when they immerse. Our brains are so plastic, they really take impression of what we do.

      Thanks for all your feedback. has so much wonderful information. Joe’s approach to the subject is fascinating and very approachable and easy. My weekend with him this past weekend was life changing, as its been since I first met him 2 years ago.

      1. Thank you for clarifying the Delsarte approach. I need to read more about it. It’s true the brain is plastic and our subconscious believes what we think and feel. I’ve wondered what it does to actors who have to play very dark, extreme roles or enact something really traumatic. They need to be careful. James Gandolfini playing Tony Soprano for years. And some of the scenes he did – wow. So extreme.

        I think actors need all types of methods and techniques in their tool box. Whatever works. And film and stage are very different. I think you can get away more with not necessarily feeling the actual emotion onstage. You would burn out in a long run if you had it every performance. On film it seems you need to actually feel or think something. It shows. But it’s not like a long run in a play.

        And if you have to summon a certain emotion on the spot and time is short, whatever works to get you there. I do agree that a lot of that emotional memory training, especially Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, can be abusive. Doing exercises in class that might be dangerous for an actor’s mental state.

        I bet combining different things helps a lot. As they say, Act As If (until you feel it).

        I see what you are studying is much more sophisticated and deep than just the old photos of people in those poses of emotions.

        I don’t know what Grotowski was doing – they took things to the extreme in their experimental theatre.

        Body and mind are intertwined so it would affect you how you move and hold your body. And you’re right, I’ve read how posture can affect how you feel. Holding yourself up instead of slumping. Smiling. So interesting.

        Damian’s natural body language might explain why we like him so much. He does seem safe and approachable. Not a dangerous person or negative.

        I think to act it is important to be mentally healthy. It’s really tricky playing with your psyche and trying to “be” someone else. You need to be grounded yourself.

        Now you’re giving me info to use when I’m watching Billions.

  6. I also love your story about being moved by that woman’s pose she struck. Isn’t it incredible how iconic a pose can be? How much feeling it can invoke?

    In both my articles, I have used photos from the same interview with Damian, as the first image. I absolutely love both those photos and think they really represent who he is as a man. Open, honest. He’s all heart in them. He’s got the heart zone of the chest on display, he has the hearts of his hands(backs of hands) out, he has the heart of his leg crossed and on display. Everything just screams “safe, nice man!”

  7. Loved this so much, lots of goodness in here. You learn something everyday and now I know about underarms! What you are saying about Bobby’s tension giving him away fits with what Wendy told us about him probably expecting to have nothing again at some point. So he is gripping on really tight to it and that is causing the tension?

    I loved it when Charlie threw Zen out the window.

    Brody, our poor Brody. It really irritates me how dismissive people are of Dana because she mattered a lot in season one. I always felt it was easier of Brody to connect with her partly because of the reason you give, but also partly because his own emotional development was halted abruptly and Dana was a comfort, someone still maturing herself.

    PS. I’d happily read a post about you deconstructing “That” scene. My sides were aching watching it. So funny.

    1. In class this past weekend, it was great to see everyone learn what underarms meant, through Delsarte. Watching them all blush fiercely suddenly! One said “hey, I have always thought they were kinda sexy, now I know why!”

      Tension definitely gives your struggle away. We used the example of a superhero in class once. Does a superhero strain while being portrayed as powerful and invincible? Nope. They look relaxed and balanced. A flick of the wrist, and Magneto throws a car across the parking lot. Jedi and Sith also show this well, a Jedi is in balance with mind, heart, vitality. A Sith is not, they are often tense and showing signs of strain and wear. I watched the newest Star Wars movie, and Rey defeats Kylo Ren during his mind -reading by projecting her heart! Heart, which is balance of mind and vital, is ultimate power. As we Harry Potter fans know, Love is the ultimate power. 🙂

      I love your input on Brody/Dana, as Dana still maturing. Those two really have a touching connection, which really rips out your heart later. UGH.

    2. I second Bookworm that I’d also happily read a post about deconstructing the fake argument scene. Original. Hilarious. Genius.

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