How Keane gave us Brody and How Brody gave us Axe *UPDATED*


I am sure that, by now, you have got to know me quite well. Yes, I’m a little bit (ok, ok more than a little bit) obsessed with Brody… All roads do not lead to Rome, they all lead to… yes, Bravo, to Brody!

Now, I love William Keane, too. I LOVE him.


Did you know that if there had been no William Keane, there would have been no Nicholas Brody? I mean there would have been some Brody in Homeland, but not our Brody! Can you imagine?

source: showtime
source: showtime

I know… You cannot! So… it’s critical for us to know how William Keane gave us OUR Brody 🙂

Damian Lewis tells in an interview with Men’s Journal that when Homeland co-creator Alex Gansa offered his name for the part of Nicholas Brody, Showtime executives said NO.

“The Showtime executives vowed Damian Lewis would never play Brody. Back in 2010, Danes had already been cast as the female lead. But finding her foil was proving difficult. ‘It was really hard because you needed an actor who could play a cipher in the first few episodes,’ says ‘Homeland co-creator Alex Gansa. ‘Actors always want to make a choice: My guy is a bad guy; my guy is a good guy. I really thought Damian could pull off not going either way.’

But the studio didn’t agree. Gansa went back to work and found a guy, but Danes exercised her veto power. So he went back to the studio with Lewis’ name again. Their reaction was not positive. ‘They told me, ‘I never want to hear that name again; Damian Lewis is a dead issue,'” says Gansa, chuckling. The show was in danger of being stillborn when Michael Cuesta – director of the show’s pilot episode – told Gansa about a barely seen 2004 indie film starring Lewis.


The film is called ‘Keane,’ and it follows Lewis in some state of psychotic breakdown as he wanders around Port Authority in NYC looking for a lost daughter who may or may not exist. It’s 90 minutes of one of the most harrowing films I’ve ever seen.”

[Damianista’s side note: In case you have not seen Keane yet, here is the trailer and both JaniaJania and I blogged about the movie, too, here and here. And I also blogged about the making of Keane here.]

“Fortunately for Lewis, Keane was available for streaming immediately on Netflix. ‘I can guarantee you that if it wasn’t streamable, I wouldn’t have watched it,’ says Gansa. ‘We got it to the studio, and the network watched it that evening.’

Keane changed everyone’s mind. Only Lewis needed convincing.”

But that is SOME STORY as well…

Damian Lewis tells Esquire: ”

“I was filming in Manchester in December in that unbelievable snow we had three years ago… I was stuck in my hotel with them saying, ‘We need a decision’. And I couldn’t get hold of [his wife] Helen.

Lewis had read one episode. As is the way of these things, he was expected to make a decision to move back to LA. He called his agent back, though an hour later than agreed.

“I said, ‘I think I’m going to say ‘yes’,” he recalls. “He went, ‘What? Really? What do you mean ‘yes’? I’ve passed’. And I went, ‘What? No, you haven’t passed. I’ve just been through the wringer with Helen trying to work out whether we should do this or not, as a family’.”

Lewis’ deal was signed on 15 December 2010. The pilot started shooting on January 3. The casting directors didn’t even get to see him read with Danes.”

… And the rest is history!


Damian Lewis brought us one of the most complex characters that we have ever seen on TV, received an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his fantastic portrayal of Nicholas Brody, made not just us, Homeland fans, but also Showtime executives fall in love with him… that after leaving Homeland after three seasons, it’s Showtime again for Damian Lewis in Billions.


Damian tells NPR’s Marketplace that he had no plans on doing another Showtime drama soon after he left Homeland.

“I figured it might be a way to sort of go out on top because it [‘Homeland’] was such fun and so well regarded and smart.”

But then he reads the script for Billions pilot and is hooked right away.

“I suppose in the same way ‘Homeland’ was able to dovetail with hard news, contemporary news, this has the ability to do the same thing- borrow from the headlines or not, but the parallels are there to be drawn and they’re fun to draw as the season goes on.”

It seems show creators were looking forward to working with Damian for a long time, too! PressTelegram reports this story that Billions co-creator Brian Koppelman has shared with them:

“Koppelman tells a story about how years ago he was sitting in an agency in New York with Levien when they saw Lewis, who was then starring in HBO’s “Band of Brothers,” walk by. “Dave turned to me and said, ‘Someday we are going to work with that guy.” He’s the best actor.’ ”

Can it get better than that?


And, Showtime boss David Nevins tells an audience in Edinburgh earlier this year about how he hired Damian Lewis for Billions:

Deadline reports: “A funny thing, Nevins said, was casting Damian Lewis in Billions, the network’s upcoming financial drama. Lewis, he recounted, felt it was too soon after Homeland to do another American TV show. “And I said, ‘Yeah, it’s too soon after Homeland for me to hire you. It feels like a little bit of a failure of creativity.’… It was that weird flirtation where we were both trying to reject each other, but you knew where it was going to end up,” he laughed.”

Thank you all for ending up where you are!

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!

8 thoughts on “How Keane gave us Brody and How Brody gave us Axe *UPDATED*”

  1. “Keane” never played in a theater near me, but you better believe that I waited not too patiently for it to come out on DVD. Bought two copies just in case something would happen to one. That was before streaming or so many movies being available on demand with a big cable package.

    1. So… you still have your two copies? 🙂 It turns out the movie had its US premiere at the NY Film Festival and I actually attended the festival that year to see several films – but not Keane. I am sure Damian would have attracted my attention if I watched it at the festival and saw the Q&A with Kerrigan and Lewis after the movie. And then I would research his other work which would take me to Band of Brothers and The Forsyte Saga… oh well! Maybe everything happens for a reason and maybe I had to find out about him later in life!

    1. That is why I try to share it at least once every year thinking that fans may be tempted to see the character that brought us Nicholas Brody! Keane is such a good and underrated movie. It’s absolutely worth a watch and shows how much a filmmaker can stretch Damian as an actor. His range is incredible.

  2. Very interesting informations, thank you, Damianista !
    I saw recently (for the first time !) “Keane” and it was overwhelming beyond words… Such a powerful performance!

    1. Thanks so much for reading it. We should all be grateful that Alex Gansa was able to stream Keane on his laptop!!! Otherwise… I can’t even!!!

    1. You have to see it. Let me note that it is not a feel-good movie at all but it is a real good one and Damian is phenomenal in it. You will know why Gansa decided to cast Damian as Brody right away when you see the film.

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