Damian in Between: Reserve Rope, Frankenstein, and WWE

In the time since Billions finished filming and we know Damian has been on break, it’s been interesting following the various projects he’s tackling back home across the pond. You hear of actors spending their series hiatuses well out of the public eye, on a beach somewhere, lounging away the days until filming starts again. Not Damian Lewis. The break from NYC and from Bobby Axelrod saw a Londoner doing London things, loving on his home town. Seems the only person to get the time off was Damian’s barber!


In March, Damian did a compelling bit of radio for BBC: The Reserve Rope, in which he played Edward Whymper the first Englishman to scale the Matterhorn. Seven men ascended the mountain that day but only three came down alive. Whymper was accused of cutting the rope (which was already the inferior reserve rope) connecting the men and later exonerated, but the torment of the role he played in the deaths of four men lived with him for a long time. We know Damian is no stranger to playing torment, and this role was no exception. With just his voice, he managed to convey shame and anxiety that he’d be convicted of murder. For the majority of the play, you felt that Whymper had been wrongfully accused. But, then, there is one brilliant moment in the second half of the play where you heard the flip of the switch between Whymper holding on to the guilt and then flippantly letting it go. It was chilling and you were left wondering if he really was guilty after all. Leave it to Damian to pull off such a code switch with just his voice as the tool for this craft.

Soundhouse Studios Twitter @The_Soundhouse
Source: Soundhouse Studios Twitter @The_Soundhouse
Wintersons ‏Twitter @wintersons
Source: Wintersons ‏Twitter @wintersons

February saw Damian and Helen cutting a fine jib as always, at a pre-BAFTA cocktail party in London. Such symmetry with the hands in the pockets!

Generated by IJG JPEG Library
Generated by IJG JPEG Library

He shared laughs with royalty at the pre-dinner reception for the Prince’s Trust Invest in Futures Gala Dinner at The Old Billingsgate on February 4 in London, England. He also attended an event at the Prince’s Trust Centre in Kennington, marking the 40th anniversary of the trust on March 8. Damian and Helen both play prominent roles in this charity which provides education and job assistance to disadvantaged youth.

Generated by IJG JPEG Library
Generated by IJG JPEG Library
Generated by IJG JPEG Library
Generated by IJG JPEG Library
Generated by IJG JPEG Library
Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Also in March, Damian read “Words” by WB Yeats in this clip from Bob Geldof’s productionWB Yeats: A Fanatic Heart.

Source: BBC

Then in April, as patron for the Sohana Research Fund, Damian visited with researchers working on a cure for RDEB.

Source: Sohana Research Fund Facebook

Most recently, on April 13, Damian and Helen performed passages from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at an event celebrating the winners of the Keats-Shelley prize for essays and poems.

Source: The Guardian

Here’s a lovely first hand account from someone who was at the event.
It seems the event organizers paid close attention to the passages chosen for reading. The image in all our heads when we hear mention of Frankenstein is the block-headed rigid monster, bolts in his temples, struggling to rise up amidst cries of “It’s alive, it’s alive” from his Creator. Instead of the typical cliche, the organizers chose passages from Shelley’s work when the Creature, loquacious and erudite, ignorant of his power (but destined to abuse it), played by Damian, confronts his Creator, the cold-blooded Dr. Frankenstein played by Helen.

Bits of the passages they read are in the video linked above and here, a tweet by someone at the event. Here are some expanded versions of those passages.

HELEN reads from Chapter 5:

It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.

DAMIAN reads from Chapter 10:

Oh, Frankenstein, be not equitable to every other and trample upon me alone, to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency and affection, is most due. Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed.

DAMIAN reads from Chapter 24:

Oh, Frankenstein! Generous and self-devoted being! What does it avail that I now ask thee to pardon me? I, who irretrievably destroyed thee by destroying all thou lovedst. Alas! He is cold, he cannot answer me.

…where can I find rest but in death?

Winning the Young Romantics prize for poetry was 16 year old Riona Millar and here is her “Sonnet After Frankenstein“.  Perfectly structured and so resonant with the choice of the words gloaming (reinvented as an adjective, describing the monster), weeping, growling, peelingstumbling, then gloaming repeated (to describe blooms under the moon).

Wreathed in laurels; glossy leaves unfurl, coiled,
The great pale gloaming thing unravels limbs,
Grins, hitches weeping gums wide, growling hymns,
Praising Father, Master, he who slaved, toiled

To build this monstrous structure – he is soiled
With these grimly yellowed stains, he who brims
With boundless love and wonder – awed, he skims
Round flat stones through his father’s throat – unspoiled.

The night, a temptress, plucks his peeling heart,
Wet, from his dappled chest, as moonlight blinds
Him; stumbling, mismatched, made up of spare parts
And engine oil. He trips, and falls. He finds

Great pale gloaming blooms that feed on the moon
He wakens not, with frail blossoms strewn.

JAGS ‏@JAGS_School
Source: JAGS Twitter ‏@JAGS_School

How lovely to see two great actors at the cusp of their respective careers already taking the time to pay it forward to the next generations of artists. No doubt la familia will be squeezing in more shared moments before Damian jets back to NYC to commence filming Billions Season 2 in June.

Oh, let’s not forget a stop-over by Damian and his son to WWE’s WrestleMania Revenge Tour. Frankly had no idea that wrestling was as much of a thing in the UK as it is here…possibly more so? One finds an education at every turn following this guy around! (Fun Fact: the guy in the pic on the left is Sheamus, a wrestler who shared a screen with Damian in The Escapist)

WWE ‏@WWE, WWE UK @WWEUK, Straight Fire @FieryBellicose, Sheamus @WWESheamus
Source: Sheamus @WWESheamus, WWE UK @WWEUK, Straight Fire @FieryBellicose

4 thoughts on “Damian in Between: Reserve Rope, Frankenstein, and WWE”

  1. What a fun time he is having. Life gives him all sorts of great opportunities, and he really jumps at them all. Love it! And love his beard/longer hair. Very foxy!

  2. He’s been keeping busy. Thank you for the update on it. I would love to know what the Queen thinks of that beard. Do we give her an A* for acting or might she like it? Hmm…

  3. “One finds an education at every turn following this guy around! ” So true!
    And A FUN one at that 🙂

    I just applaud Damian (and Helen, too) for doing so much both for charity and for the arts. I just cannot imagine – not to badmouth them in any way but – American “stars” doing a reading on a Wednesday morning at a little museum or reading for radio! These people have no vanity about them and I think this makes it one of the top reasons why we love them! They are doing all they can and more to pass love for the arts on to future generations. Standing ovation!

    And I love seeing Damian having so much fun at WWE!!! Hilarious!!!!

  4. Yes, his event secretary/agent or personal assistant or whomever books him on these gigs/events has a good ear for what fits. And he does too!

    The local grassroots stuff they do is what really makes them stars in the long run.

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