Looks like May is Damian’s month in the UK! With the start of Billions on Sky Atlantic and now the premier of the long awaited thriller Our Kind of Traitor, our guy has been everywhere! There is certainly great talent on board with Ewan MacGregor, Stellan Skarsgard, Naomie Harris, and, of course, Damian Lewis in the role of curmudgeonly British intelligence fixer Hector Meredith.
In short, Damian plays a frustrated spy type who is at odds with how to manuever with his old rule book in this new world. Ewan MacGregor plays a bumbling professor, Peregrine “Perry” Makepiece, who’s taken in by Dima, played by Saargard, who is hopelessly and inextricably tied to the Russian mob. In my brief foray into the novel, some themes flew off the page: capitalism can be just as corrupt, in just as deeply nefarious ways, as the economic theories it has supplanted. And: Russia never died, it was reborn as a somewhat new and as yet not fully dissectable creature, still as globally influential as ever, and in ways it never was before.
We caught the first preview of this John Le Carre thriller when it released a few months ago. Have a look here. Since then, we’ve seen a clip of a scene where Hector is questioning Perry about his meeting with Dima with questions that aren’t “tough…medium soft”: here. Most recently we got another clip and a hint of the threads connecting the Russian mafia and London political insiders.
Finally, just this week, we’ve got a bit of a featurette released by StudioCanal.
Damian was at a screening last week, doing the red carpet thing with co-star Naomie Harris on his arm. Gotta say I take particular vicarious pleasure in seeing how he elicits such genuine laughter from any and all females in his company. Keep these kind of images coming photographers!
On that red carpet, he had this to say about the film:
There’s often a character in Le Carre novels that I think is Le Carre, and I think Hector is Le Carre
He comes good in the end old Hector, but he’s struggles with his conscience along the way…
For those who do read him, it’s common knowledge that John Le Carre is known for his stories of Cold War espionage. Born David John Moore Cornwell, Le Carre worked as a spy himself for the British Secret service before acquiring his pen name and marching forth on a long and prolific career of writing what he knew best. When the decades long stand-off with Russia ended, Le Carre found himself in a world where not all bad guys could be cast as Russians. Like a real estate mogul at the crash of the housing market, Le Carre had to change gears. With this story, he’s back to Russia, but in a radically different way. And the bad guys are much more camouflaged, much harder to identify and weed out. It’s a tale of a tale of deeply rooted Western collusion in Russian mafioso hijinks. A YT commenter made the intriguing observation: “there are no ”good guys” in John Le Carre books, there are just bad guys, even more bad guys and naive guys who become bad guys along the way.” Like!
Till the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1991 and beyond, Le Carre’s work is best described as telling the tales of intrigue and subterfuge among various “unheroic political functionaries aware of the moral ambiguity of their work and engaged in psychological more than physical drama.” Wikipedia also tells us that in Le Carre’s novels, “much of the conflict is internal, rather than external and visible” and that, even though, his genre is ostensibly about bad guy vs good guy, he often paints his worlds with strokes obscuring the lines around conventional morality.
Hope the good folks across the pond are able to see what looks like a fun ride of a thriller when it opens! For those of us stateside, the film is set to release in July around the US. I’m delighted to report that I’ll be catching a screening at Seattle International Film Festival in just a couple weeks! Damian Lewis on a big screen (a first for me)? Yes, please, and thank you!