My first ever blog post on Fan Fun with Damian Lewis was about how I became a Damian Lewis fan. In case you missed it, it is here, and a guaranteed fun read.
Now, being a fan is one thing… being a super fan is another. Blogging about your favorite actor daily is a completely different ball game.
So… What is it about Damian Lewis that makes me the FAN that I am? 🙂
Could it be the good looks?
I admit good looks never hurt. Haha see this clip from the Conan Show. When asked if he was watching himself on TV, Damian Lewis goes…
And, I go directly at my TV set: “Of course, you don’t look like George Clooney, because you look much better than him.” Yes, he does. Oh, yes, he does.
I agree with JaniaJania though that Damian Lewis “defies all definitions of conventional beauty” and so he may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Take my mom. She sometimes has as good lines as the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey if you know what I mean… And, she goes “I know Homeland is a great show, because I look forward to the next episode even though there is not one single person in the show worth looking at.” 🙂
You’re SO WRONG, mom. Brody comes to screen, and you just can’t take your eyes away from him. You just can’t. The guy has this magnetic quality that gets you fixated. Well, I can talk about this for days here, but you get the big picture. I find Damian Lewis very good-looking and attractive.
Having said that… I am not in my 20s anymore, and good looks don’t really cut it for me. There should be more… so what is it?
Could it be that he’s a GREAT actor?
Of course, it’s a very big chunk of it! That was how I became a fan in the first place! I told you earlier, Damian Lewis’ acting in Homeland’s Q&A sealed the deal for me. And I have no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Damian Lewis is one of the BEST actors of his generation — and honestly, I have not seen anyone better in his generation, either 🙂
There are three specifics about Damian’s acting that fascinates me through and through.
Firstly, LESS is always MORE with Damian. He can do an entire scene with no words and I cannot really put it into words but he does that thing with his face — you all know what I’m talking about, don’t you? — and tells you all you need to know.
There is a scene in Forsyte Saga with Soames in his office with his dad James. They are seemingly talking, but in fact, his dad is talking, and Soames responds only with raising an eyebrow or so… And, believe me, he could not tell more if he said a word. Damian has this gift and never ceases to amaze me with it. If you don’t believe it, here is the scene from YouTube. Oh, and I declare Damian Lewis the BEST eye-brow raiser the human kind has ever seen!
Secondly, Damian Lewis is a WIZ when it comes to covering multiple emotions in the blink of an eye. Just to give a few examples:
Wolf Hall. Henry has lost all his hope about having a son with Anne. He is talking to Cromwell and Cranmer. He is desperate: “If a King can not have a son, if he cannot give stability to his realm, it does not matter what else he can do. Victories, or just laws, the famous courts, nothing.”
And, in the hands of Damian Lewis, the king is transformed from Henry the Desperate into Henry the Sinister in two seconds.
Now, it seems to him that he was somehow dishonestly led into this marriage. “It seems to me that I was seduced… perhaps with charms, with spells. Women do use such things. And that were so, the marriage would be null, would it not?”
I am not even getting into Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody — because then I will just not be able shut up — who was more than able to keep us at the edge of our seats for weeks thinking “Is he or isn’t he?” and even in the scene with Akbari, “will he or won’t he” until the very last second. I will not brag more about Brody myself and leave the job to two Homeland writers: Chip Johannesen says “Brody easily shifts from one life to the next — he’s a chameleon. Damian will choose moments to show this other side of Brody.” And, Alex Cary adds: “In one scene, you can see him play the victim, and the terrorist, one after the other. That’s Damian’s gift, doing that without words. You can see the switch turn.” (Matt Hurwitz. 2014. Homeland Revealed. Chronicle Books. Page 19)
The third thing that fascinates me about Damian’s acting is the fact that he can play a wide range of characters and can create a wide range of personality traits for each single character he brings to life. He does not shy away from playing a cipher, either — which brings me again, inevitably — back to Brody.
Homeland executive producer Howard Gordon says in an interview with the Guardian: “”Because Brody is such a cipher people didn’t know quite who he was and had lots of different ideas about what he might look like and how he might act. [Damian] just did it brilliantly.”
The characters Damian Lewis brings to life are complex, have multiple layers, and cannot be more different from each other. As I highlighted in my “Happy Birthday, Damian!” post, just a quick look at the roles Damian takes on in 2015 tells it all: Henry VIII in Wolf Hall. Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, a 21st Century Wall Street hedge-fund king, in new Showtime drama Billions. Walter “Teach” Cole, a vulgar, lower class American in American Buffalo on stage. Balor McNeil, a righteous minister on a remote island in Scotland in mid 20th century in Silent Storm. Charles Doughty-Wylie, an Edwardian era soldier in Queen of the Desert. Hector Meredith, a high up in the British Secret Service in Our Kind of Traitor.
Kenneth Rea, a senior acting teacher at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for almost 40 years, has just published a book “The Outstanding Actor” with a foreword by one of his star students, Damian Lewis, in which he tells about why some actors just stand out. In a recent interview with the New Zealand Herald, Mr. Rea talks about Damian’s Hollywood experience: “When Damian [Lewis] was working with Tom Hanks on Band of Brothers, he asked him about the roles he takes. Tom said he had a brand to maintain, the little American who struggles against adversity and comes out on top in the end. If he departs from that, his fans won’t follow him. Damian thought that was quite sad, a great star having to protect a brand. That’s one of the downsides of success; it can brand you. On the other hand, if you take risks, if you’re unpredictable, you can do pretty much anything.”
I like and respect Tom Hanks, and I applaud him for speaking very openly to a young actor about how show business works. And, yes, it’s quite sad, too. You know what this kind of “branding” does to an actor, right? The movie title changes, the character’s name changes, but the actor is always playing almost the same role, I don’t want to name names, but I know that you know what I am talking about. Oh, we need a president… Call X. We need a guy who will take revenge from the guys who killed his wife… Call Y. We need a corrupt cop… Call Z.
In a world dominated by “brands”, it is so refreshing to see an actor like Damian Lewis, someone that keeps away from this almost inevitable trap, and chooses to play such a wide range of characters with an incredible range of emotions in a single year! I would call THIS a true brand.
So… Good looks… Check! Great actor… Check! But is it sufficient to turn a fan into a blogger? I’d say they are absolutely NECESSARY but still NOT SUFFICIENT. I believe you still need some add-ons… And, for the add-ons, you gradually move from the actor to the man… a topic that I plan to tackle next week 🙂