No doubt many people get married and start families because it’s the thing to do, a natural progression in life. Not everyone takes the time or effort to really think about what it means to bring new life into the world or go forth on the venture with conscious intentionality. How many times have we heard (or ourselves thought) David Byrne’s immortal refrain:
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife. And you may ask yourself: Well…How did I get here?
Following Damian as we do on this blog, we’ve seen at every turn that he seems to have entered his current life with full intentionality. You sense, in his various relationships prior to Helen, what we know of them, that he was always quietly in search of someone to settle down with, someone to have children with. Not all men think this way, I’m guessing, particularly attractive men who have no shortage of female attention. A lot of guys fantasize about the attention that Damian has always gotten, right? So, if you’re lucky enough to be Damian Lewis, why settle down? Why let a woman and the resultant children cramp one’s playboy style? But, no, Damian, even though he IS Damian, wanted the wife and the house and the family. And how beautiful the stories we hear and the images we get of him in arguably the most important role of any man’s life, the role of father. Here are some of our recollections of Damian being a Dad.
When asked if he always wanted to be a father, Damian says:
Ah, very much. I come from a big family. A big, garrulous, happy family of six. Four children. I think I imagined … If I’m honest, I imagined a family re-enacting my childhood.
Well, he does not seem to shy away from re-enacting his childhood when he takes his kids to the park 🙂
Helen shares with Daily Mail Damian is engaged in their kids’ lives beyond the FUN in the park:
I realise how lucky I am, having talked to other mothers, that Damian gets involved in his children’s day-to-day lives. In two months of filming Homeland, he’s flown back home four times in his few days off. Although that’s tough on him, it makes such a difference.
But we know it is not easy to coordinate two careers and two kids! So what happens when Damian has to be away?
As for the times I can’t be with them — Skype is a godsend, although if my children are in the middle of watching something on TV, forget it! We’re a family of gipsies, really, and we find ways to deal with it. Getting it right, getting it wrong, the usual.
But it is tough when he feels missing out on his kids’ lives. He tells Vogue a few years ago about a conversation with his son:
I was talking to Gully about something completely different and suddenly, without even looking at me, he said, ‘D’you know, Dad? When you’re away, sometimes I look out of my bedroom window at night and I call your name, and I cry.’
I wrestle with this. I wrestle with it… Children like you being around, you see. They really just like you being around. I don’t think there is any substitute for doing it well and just doing it right. And doing it right is just being there.
Sunday Times recently reports his daughter Manon has given Damian another good one to wrestle with:
His daughter asks them to do things together, as a family, and “she loves it when we do, she scrunches up her face and says, ‘I’m so happy.’ And then you take another job and your heart melts and the guilt and shame wash over you.
Awww… Still from what Damian tells Daily Mail, he seems to have found some good balance between work and fun.
…I turn my away time into just my work time. There’s lots of work I can be doing when I’m on location and not on the set, and that’s what I do when I’m away… Then the pay-off is when I come home, I make that the fun time with Helen and the kids — it’s the time I look forward to.
Helen likes it, too. My traditional greeting from her when I do turn up is, ‘There you are, Damian, welcome home, here are the kids, I’ll see you in a couple of days.’
And he is a modern dad at home:
I like not just being the figurehead of the family—it means that I want to take the kids to school, I want to pick them up, and I want to take them on their play dates and come home and do their homework with them and understand actually in detail what their homework is rather than having it relayed to me by my wife.
As the kids are getting older, it is fun seeing dad taking Manon to ballet and Gully to Liverpool games. The family also has a dog, Petra who, Damian reveals on Top Gear, travels with them in the car tied to the handbrake! 🙂
Damian shares in an interview with Telegraph that, as they were planning in 2016 to move to New York for six months as a family, Helen received a job offer to lead the new ITV show Fearless. Damian insisted she take the job and took the kids with him to New York. And, hey, he is honest about the experience 😀
“I’m not going to pretend that I swanned through it – I felt pretty frazzled by the end of it. I think Helen adjusted… alarmingly well, shall we say, to four months without the kids or me. Never seen her happier, calmer.”
Here is a lovely family moment from when Helen visited the family and they all went to see The Rockettes at Radio City Hall!
Damian was also spotted with the kids in New York at Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, Z100’s Jingle Bell Party as well as at a NY Jets game at METLife Stadium. And when JaniaJania and I visited him after his performance in The Goat, we chatted a bit about New York, and found out about his favorite bookstore: Books of Wonder!
“For my Kids.”
But, after all, being a modern dad may require going beyond all of this! Damian tells the sweetest story on Desert Island Discs:
…to combat the onslaught of Taylor Swift in the car when I am with the kids… is, you know, what every self-respecting dad should do which is to force the music of his youth onto his own children. It turns out they absolutely love this (Madness by Baggy Trousers). And, when I am on my desert island, I will hear their laughter and I will hear the mad singing of the family in the car.
And his advice for Tom Chamberlin, a new dad, who has interviewed him for The Rake Magazine?
“Saying ‘I love you’ to your child at night, and having them say ‘I love you, Dadda’ back is enough to make you choke a bit. Just always say it, make it part of the conversation, because it’s just the loveliest thing to be able to say that with your child: ‘I love you, I love you.’ It’s just so nice, it’s so glorious. Of course, actions speak louder than words. The old cliché, ‘It gets better and better’ – it really does. More and more you get to know them, the love’s unconditional – you accept that – but getting to know them is great fun, and realizing you love this person as much as you ever did as you’re getting to know more and more about them, it just deepens and deepens.”
And Damian makes us all smile when he pops up with Manon and Gulliver on the blue carpet for the European Premiere of Mary Poppins Returns in December! Look at him: One Proud Dad!
Happy Father’s Day, Damian!
We wish you many years of happy laughter and mad singing of the family in the car with Petra tied to the handbrake!
DVDs are going out of fashion faster than they arrived in fashion, such is the continuous advance in technology. If you bought it 5 minutes ago, it is already dated! Still DVDs are useful. A feature that, like DVDs themselves, seems to have gone out of fashion as fast as they arrived is the DVD commentary. The fall from grace of the DVD commentary may be a case of there not being enough time to get people to do them anymore or a general feeling that no one likes them or listens to them. If I had thought about it the plea for Damian Lewis and David Costabile to do a DVD commentary for S1 of Billions would have gone out…but there is always season 2…pretty please?
It turns out that DVD commentaries are a good place to pick up sound bites. It is appropriate that I would like to turn my attention to a DVD commentary for Life, not only because we are in the midst of a review of season 1 of Life, but because Gulliver was born while Damian was playing Charlie Crews. There are actually only 14 months between Manon and Gulliver so it must have been hard working so much with two very young children.
So, Season 1, episode 10 (Dig a Hole) episode commentary and the infamous horse that Charlie buys for his ex-wife is being discussed. Sarah Shahi asks Damian a question about the horse, but does so in a sing song voice spelling out the word horse as though talking to a child. Damian playfully asks Sarah why she is talking to him like he is a one year old (would anyone like to guess?), while telling us that is exactly how he talks to his one year old. Damian then gives us an example of exactly how he does that ‘would you like a B O T T L E darling?’ Possibly you would need to hear this to find it remotely funny, but I laughed.
The point of this story? Does there need to be one? He’s a dad being a dad and that is enough. On that note, it is father’s day and time for the kiddies to bring dad a B O T T L E.
I found this little gem of a story, an observer’s account of Damian having a particularly fun moment of fatherhood:
He was with his son, and Helen McCrory was queuing further back with their daughter …, but their son was OUT. OF. CON. TROL. But only insofar as Damian Lewis was concerned.
I spotted him immediately and whispered to my mum “PSSSTTT. IT’S BRODY FROM TV’S HOMELAND.” And we were just low key observing from right behind him (he’s super tall) his argument with his son, who was sat on the floor and refusing to move. And DL was getting angrier and angrier, and more and more frustrated. “GULLIVER. STAND UP.” To which the kid was like “NO!!!!! I WON’T!!!!” And DL like just picked him up and put him on his feet, and DL hissed like any typical embarassed parent, but add in the fact that everyone was watching him like a hawk, “JUST STAND STILL AND BEHAVE YOURSELF, OR I’LL GO AND TELL MUMMY!”
And the kid goes, “NO. NO!!!!! I WON’T STAND WITH YOU!!! I WANT TO STAND WITH THE ADULTS!!!”
I was DYING.
We know he had the kids with him as Helen worked on ITV’s Fearless and he was in New York finishing up Billions Season 2.
And here he is introducing his son Gulliver to his beloved Liverpool FC, kit and caboodle.
Luckily the game he attended with Gullie in this video clip ended better for LFC (2-0 v. Spurs) than a match he watched earlier, also with his boy.
Aaaaghh! Liverpool!!! Just watched it with my distraught 9 yr old son. Title gone.Tweeted more today than I have in a year so I'm off…
— Damian Lewis (@lewis_damian) January 21, 2017
From when Damian was with the babies when they were babies:
Damian Lewis has just ordered a drink and is attacking a bowl of nuts as if he hasn’t eaten for days. In fact, given that his fiancée, actress Helen McCrory, has just been in hospital giving birth to their first child — a daughter called Manon — that may be the case. “They’re coming home from the hospital tonight,” he says, “so I’m scrubbing floors. … I’m in a daze of love and happiness. I imagine it’s like being on drugs.”
You know, I found myself the other day pushing the double buggy along the cycle path in Santa Monica with my kids inside, jogging along behind them in the sunshine, and I thought to myself: ‘Damian, you big tit!'”
True enough, parenthood is excruciating in its extremes: on one end, the most ravishing joy, and on the other end, the numbing exhaustion and the sharpest aggravation you’ll ever feel. It sounds like Damian wouldn’t have it any other way.
Happy Father’s Day, Damian!