Time flies. It’s been a year since JaniaJania brought her literary and forensic talent to this blog. And here’s her first ever post still as fresh as it was exactly a year ago.
Why Damian Lewis? Well, she knows why.
Cheers to many many years together, partner! Love, Damianista
March 4, 2015
I am extremely happy to introduce you to a new and absolutely brilliant
blogger on Fan Fun with Damian Lewis.
Please say hi to JaniaJania!
JaniaJania and I met on Twitter! She attracted my attention with her tweets
first — always intriguing, interesting and FUN! She can say so much about Damian Lewis with 140 characters at a time that I just kindly asked her if she would be interested in blogging on Fan Fun with Damian Lewis. And lucky
me, and lucky us, she has accepted. So, starting today, Wednesdays are “JaniaJania Writes” days!
Welcome, JaniaJania, and cheers to sharing the FUN together for a long, long time!
Here’s JaniaJania’s HELLO to us all, followed by her first post! ENJOY!
“Thank you Damianista for inviting me to write what I love! Damian Lewis is an inspiration in so many ways. Great having this chance to ride the Fan Fun together. Enjoy!”
It all started with a tweet. One that got a fair share of RTs and Favs and one I sweated delivering a pithy response to. But my response couldn’t possibly fit in 140 characters:
As Yanks, most of our first experience of Damian Lewis was Homeland. We saw him and noted how he held eyes on him whenever he was in a shot. The kind of performance the most hardened TV viewer cannot look away from. Like gravity or magnet, from Brody’s first appearance getting cleaned up at Ramstein (the damage in his eyes, the coldness) then on the plane back home to D.C. The way Brody couldn’t look Jessica in the eye at first, embodying in one non-glance the latent shame of being held captive, of being absent from his family, afraid that she wasn’t who she was when he left, knowing he sure as hell wasn’t the same man she said goodbye to the day he left for war. Damian Lewis communicated all of that in a microsecond.
He held our rapt attention and, as the series, ostensibly a spy thriller, took a shocking momentous turn (in a parking lot!) into a riveting romance, the “perfectly impossible love” (as Claire Danes put it), any chance of our looking away was long gone, and we, discriminating ladies and gentlemen, were hooked. Hooked on the romance, but more so on the way Damian Lewis played Brody’s deep damage, his treachery, and eventually, his vulnerability. Just as films about the American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan begin to hit our screens, Brody singing the Marine Hymn through gritted teeth cut an indelible image of what it is to be a soldier on the front lines.
Actors have said it’s taken one role to change the way the world perceives them, one role that pulls the switch from, say, a guy who’s always cast as the foil, the sidekick, or the nerd, to a guy who is all of a sudden received as a very believable romantic lead. Damian Lewis had romantic lead-ish roles before Homeland, see Friends and Crocodiles, The Baker. Often, he managed to lend sympathy to a character that not many would sympathize with, see Soames Forsyte. But it was in Homeland that we saw him as Brody thru the eyes of Carrie. Claire Danes watching him on her screen, her involuntary, nearly imperceptible, lascivious smile when she sees him coming out of the shower.
Carrie lingering on his face in the image of him in a car, his profile, his forearm on the window, all of it served to make our glance linger on his face, too, to be entranced, and to see in him what Carrie saw.
Was she smitten because she was surveilling him, or was she surveilling him because she was smitten? Ultimately, a moot question, but one some of us did think about, because, let’s be honest, as Damian Lewis has himself said, “the color” of him often kept him out of certain leading roles. He defies all definitions of conventional beauty.
So what is it about him? Maybe it’s the voice? Velvet with a hint of cabernet. Or the body of a footballer half his age?
Or maybe it’s the indelible confidence, the willingness to be goofy without a hint of self-consciousness, and the easy intimacy he projects? The Times observed the in person Damian Lewis quite attractively as “a rotten flirt, a toucher, a beguiler; a creator of instant intimacies.”
New Statesman included DL in a cover story about the upper class takeover of the arts with the argument that if only the posh make art, it will be rendered bland.
This is a valid argument for music and visual arts, and, perhaps, literature, the making of which all benefit from pain and loss and general malaise about the condition of human existence. But, does such an argument apply to drama, which, since Shakespeare has always been about and for the working class? Drama can only be made stronger, less bland, by a complete higher education, one that builds an actor’s empathy, his exposure to myriad ways of living, rendering performance by well-educated actors anything but bland.
That said, for Damian Lewis, perhaps, it’s the cushy upbringing that has fed into his confidence? Granted, Yanks don’t really fully get Brit class distinctions. Here, the members of the upper class usually got there by hard work, luck, good choices, and theft, not by birth. Of course, the US has its share of nepotism, but, still, nothing like the structure that still stands in the UK. And the members of the upper class here are well aware that all it takes it a bad day on Wall Street to knock them right down to the lower rungs of the ladder. The upper class in the UK has no such concern (I imagine). There, the upper class can lose all their money, sure, but they can never NOT be the upper class. Their status as upper class remains unquestionable, and such an unimpeachable ranking, one would imagine, vests in a member of that class a persistent, unabashed confidence, despite the harshest, most personal, critique. In Damian Lewis, that confidence, combined with the voice and the boot camp physique, is manifest in a hotness beyond reason.
So, yeah, I was “turned” to Damian Lewis. I wouldn’t have sought out Homeland had I not seen the clip of Jennifer Lawrence fangirling so adorably over DL on the red carpet of some award show.
And after watching and re-watching, and still again, re-watching that series, I went in search of his other work. While we wait out the appearance of him back on US screens in April with Wolf Hall, why not take a glimpse back at his career to date?
Next post: Damian Lewis as Dick Winters, or how the heck does a Brit play a Yank so flawlessly?