What were you doing in 1995? Cynthia’s Story

Hello all! Damianista here. Welcome to Fan Story Tuesday!

Those of you from Michigan may know Cynthia from her program Stateside on Michigan Radio, part of the NPR digital network. Cynthia has had work experience in radio and TV for more than 35 years.  She has been a popular radio host, a TV news anchor, producer and a medical and consumer reporter. She has won a number of awards for her writing and reporting — including an Emmy! And, in addition to all this, Cynthia is a Damian Lewis fan. Big thanks go to her for being one of the first to respond to our call for fan stories and sharing this very special story.

Without further ado: What were YOU doing in 1995? This is Cynthia’s story.

copyright: Cynthia Canty

When I say that I’ve been a fan of Damian Lewis & his work for a long time, I come by that honestly.

In June 1995, I traveled, along with three friends, to New York City with one goal in mind: to see the Almeida Theatre production of Hamlet, starring Ralph Fiennes. It was playing a limited-run at the Belasco Theatre on West 44th in NYC.

copyright: Cynthia Canty

The show we saw the night of June 10th, 1995 was absolutely stunning. Ralph Fiennes was a wonderfully brooding Hamlet, Francesca Annis was Gertrude, Tara Fitzgerald was Ophelia. Amidst this stellar cast, my friend Susan and I couldn’t stop focusing on the long-haired “ginger” playing Laertes. He was great in the role and, we both agreed, “The ginger is HOT!”.

Yes, it was Damian Lewis.

source: Almeida Theatre

We went back the next afternoon for Playbill autographs from the cast after the Sunday matinee. Damian had a gash on his hand from a sword-fight scene that went a bit awry. He politely signed our Playbills and then hopped on his bicycle and headed down the street.

copyright: Cynthia Canty
Cynthia’s friend Susan asks Damian to sign a vintage book she bought earlier that day. In Cynthia’s words: “He gave her a puzzled look and then gamely signed it.”

The next time I saw him was September 9, 2001. The night HBO premiered its mini-series Band of Brothers. I knew little about who was going to be in the cast, only that it focused on fighting World War Two in the European Theatre–one of my historical passions.

And–A-HA! Who’s starring as Lt. Dick Winters? The “hot ginger from Hamlet”!

In no time at all, I stopped thinking about the “hot ginger” as I was completely won over by the way Damian Lewis brought the young Dick Winters to life.

It was kind of cool being able to talk about the show with friends and astonish them by announcing that yes, the actor who plays Dick Winters is doing a helluva good American accent…because he is a BRIT! People were astonished. And I smiled when he accepted his Emmy for Homeland by announcing, in his real accent, “I’m one of those pesky Brits.”

The entire BOB cast did great justice to Easy Company of the 506th PIR. It has been great seeing them turn up in so many different films and TV productions.

As for Damian, I’ve continued to be a fan… through The Forsyte Saga, Life, Homeland, Wolf Hall, Billions and more. Each role brings even more reason to admire his acting talent.

Damian Lewis – 20 years after Cynthia’s first meeting with him 🙂

And it makes me happy to know that I twigged on to this incredible actor more than 21 years ago!

Author: Damianista

Academic, Traveler, Blogger, Runner, Theatre Lover, Wine Snob, Part-time New Yorker, and Walking Damian Lewis Encyclopedia :D Procrastinated about a fan's diary on Damian Lewis for a while and the rest is history!

17 thoughts on “What were you doing in 1995? Cynthia’s Story”

  1. Thanks for sharing Cynthia; loved your entry. Also, it is nice to find someone who has been a Damian fan even longer than I have been. I first knew him from Band of Brothers and it would be difficult to tell from that that he was actually a redhead. Obviously I found that out later! I would be thrilled to be able to see him on stage someday, but that is rather unlikely; so I will content myself with inviting him into my living room via the TV.

    1. Connie, I happily do that each week as well. Funny: I was re-watching Thr latest episode of Billions just last night. We never miss it. His versatility is really something: just contrast Axe with Major Dick Winters! He’s back onstage in London now. Perhaps one day he’lll find his way back to Broadway!

  2. Great story Cynthia! I so envy you that you have had the pleasure of seeing Damian on the stage! I’m hoping one day he will do something here on Broadway, so I can have that experience!

    Thanks for sharing and being a part of our lovely sisterhood!!

    1. You’re so welcome! Delighted to share such a memory that’s still so great after nearly 22 years! And if Damian Lewis wound up coming back to Broadway—and why not?—I think it would be great to get as many of the sisterhood together to go see him. I’m in!

  3. This is a FANTASTIC STORY for a number of reasons.

    First, while most people naturally discovered Damian on TV, you discovered him on stage. And way before he became an internationally known actor. Your memory is so precious because there is no way we can repeat YOUR experience. Because Damian will never be that guy who would give a few autographs and then go ride his bike (even though I understand he sometimes still bikes to the theatre). He is now the center of attention at stage door!

    Secondly, and more importantly, your experience speaks for Damian as an actor: He should have made quite an impression on you as Laertes that you remembered him – I don’t know if you remembered the name or the man physically – when you saw him in Band of Brothers years later. 6 years later to be precise! Unbelievable!

    And I really REALLY hope Damian comes back to Broadway sooner than later and yes I am taking up your offer to organize a “Fan Fun” day to see him on stage altogether – what a dream!!!!

    Heartfelt thanks, Cynthia, for sharing your story with us. Cheers <3

    1. You’re SO welcome! And I instantly remembered the name and the face when BoB came on in 2001. No hesitation. I was already keyed up about the mini-series because I have a life-long intense interest in WWII and the European Theater in particular. And…Tom Hanks! Steven Spielberg. This was going to be great. So to watch the first few moments and say” HEY, look who’s playing Lt Winters” was icing on the cake. Then to read Ambrose’s book, Major Winters’ memoir (to which Damian wrote a preface) and to see how beautifully he and the other cast members brought Easy Company’s stories to us—well, it all fit so perfectly.
      We’ll just keep our eye on news from Broadway and wait for him to come back. And you’re right: no longer will he be the young supporting cast member who bikes off while the crowd waits for Ralph Fiennes. 😉 I know you’ll do a great job ogranizing a “Fan Fun” day. Like I said, I’m in!

        1. Krista, it’s a wonderful book: Beyond Band of Brothers- The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters. That one is by Major Winters. There’s also an excellent book by Larry Alexander called Biggest Brother–The Life of Major Dick Winters, The Man Who Led Band of Brothers.

    2. So excited to see Damian at Royal Haymarket theatre on 20 May 2017 I have loved him since the forthsythe saga an ITV show in U.K.

      Then homeland became my all time favoirite show until they killed him off I couldn’t face watching it once he was no longer in it.

      He just fills the screen with that smile n those beautiful eyes roll on May April can just disappear for me.

      Sonia I love Damian Jordan

      1. Dear Sonia “I Love Damian” Jordan,
        Thanks for the comment. We would love to have your fan story in writing. Would you be interested in writing how you became a fan and send it to us at allaboutdamian@gmail.com?
        Please keep your feedback coming – and so happy that you will get to see Damian on stage! ENJOY <3

  4. He did ineed. Plus, it was my first big “chick trip”…where my three friends and I left the guys at home for an unforgettable weekend in the Big Apple. I can remember where we ate, where we went for post-show drinks after seeing Hamlet, where we shopped. It was one of the best trips of my life. And discovering Damian Lewis 22 years ago was the cherry on the sundae!

  5. What a great story-you are so lucky to have seen him so long ago! You are a Damian Lewis hipster- you “liked him before it was cool”….

    Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Such a great story! And what an enviable way to be introduced to this great actor. I was in LA in 1995, still reading The New Yorker even when I no longer lived in NY, and remember the stellar review of Ralph Fiennes in Hamlet. I also remember pining at the idea of seeing Fiennes on stage. (I was very smitten with him at the time) I can only imagine what kind of impression the young unknown ginger in the role of Laertes would’ve had on me. So fun that you saw the greatness before any of us got to. And brilliant that you’ve remained a fan all these many years. Thank you for sharing your story!

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