Throwback Thursday to Damian Lewis & Helen McCrory at the White House

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Being a famous star comes with incredible perks from eating at the most exquisite restaurants to vacationing at most exotic places to getting  invited to most exclusive parties. But how many stars can say the President of the United States is a fan of their work and had them over at the White House for a state dinner? Well, our favorite actor and his better-half certainly can! Damian and Helen were the guests of Barack and Michelle Obama at the UK State Dinner back in 2012.  I am quite sure most of you read or heard bits and pieces of the story since Damian talked about it in several interviews and talk shows. But why not bring all bits and pieces together today and make our own Fan Fun version of that wonderful evening?

Hey, let’s make this feel REAL.

The invitation:

You can see the entire White House UK State Dinner 2012 Booklet here and the complete list of guests here.

The decor:

According to Washington Post,  it follows an “America’s backyard” theme: “Planters and centerpieces used at the dinner are intended to emulate nature and the flowing ‘landscape gardens’ that are common in England.”.

source: whitehouse.gov.uk
source: whitehouse.gov.uk

The menu:

It “takes its inspiration from the White House garden’s late winter harvest and early spring greens” plucked only a day before the state dinner.

source: whitehouse.gov
source: whitehouse.gov

The White House kindly shares the recipe of the dessert on their website in case you are interested in making it for your own dinner party!

The preparation:

So… Given that they are invited to the White House for a state dinner, where do Damian and Helen spend the day? At the hairdresser? At the make-up?

Oh, no, our favorite couple is a bit too “normal” to do that and this is one of the reasons we just LOVE them!

They simply take DC museums over hours of preparing for the state dinner.

MSN News reports Helen said they were told by officials make-up and hair could be arranged for them a few hours before, but she wanted to spend time seeing the sights of Washington DC instead.

“We turned that down… I’d never been to Washington before and wanted to hit the sights and see a couple of museums… So we rushed back to the hotel five minutes before, jumped in the shower, got changed and ran down to the White House.”

These people have their priorities set and I applaud them for it!

The event:

Damian and Helen arrive at the White House at 7pm through the Booksellers entrance on the East Wing. And, hey, they look FAB or what? I’m sorry but can this really happen in five minutes? Helen looks stunning in Jacques Azagury!

source: Huffington Post
source: Huffington Post

They talk to reporters. Damian, who is delighted that Homeland was Obama’s favorite show, says he plans to ask Obama when he has time to watch TV!

Lauren Collins, in her wonderful conversation with Damian Lewis at the New Yorker Festival, asks how it was like to visit the White House and meet the President. And we are lucky that this little audio clip the festival shared later online has, in fact, the answer to this question at 16:20 here. ENJOY!

It turns out, after the introductions, Damian and Helen first take a tour of the White House before sitting down for dinner. And what Helen tells Radio Times is priceless:

“We took snaps of each other in every room, including the loo. Thrilling!”

These two!

source: whitehouse.gov
source: whitehouse.gov

Then they walk into a fantastic marquee setup in the South Lawn of the White House through the Japanese Cherry Blossoms to the tent where the state dinner is held. They assume their seats, Damian tells at the New Yorker Festival “to be next to the revolving doors going to into the toilet… or to kitchen or something… and look, we walk the room to arrive at the top table, Table 1, to find our places with me realizing that I was sitting closer than I am to this lady here (Damian now pointing to JaniaJania!) across from the President” and then he points at me as “Samantha Cameron” and goes on to my husband as the “Vice Chief of the Armed Forces, and to Carol “Helen, my wife is next to him” and the other side is “David Cameron, Michelle, and someone called George… Clooney.” 🙂

And, yes, my dear partner, from now on, you can definitely brag about how close you sat across from Damian Lewis as “just a bit farther than he sat across from the POTUS.”

It really seems like an unforgettable night for Damian that he even remembers the seating right! Here’s the proof from Washington Post.

source: Washington Post
source: Washington Post

And we have a lovely photo from the dinner as well! Damian has someone on his left, whom he says, as a hedge-fund billionaire, has been expecting to meet for the longest time: Warren Buffet! If you have not already, pay attention to the photos in Axe’s office — there is one with Axe and Buffet there! And there is, of course, one with Obama, too!

source: whitehouse.gov
source: whitehouse.gov

It turns out the president engages Damian and Warren Buffet in a three-way conversation on fracking!

“I had a LOT to say… and they listened intently. Some of that policy is now being… ”

Gotta LOVE this guy!

But we all know Damian knows way more about fracking now thanks to Billions Season 4 Episode 8 Fight Night.

And the little story Damian tells about the president teasing Warren Buffet about wearing an old tie — apparently his favorite —  on his first visit to Obama in the White House… I really really REALLY wish you could hear Damian’s imitation of President Obama and Warren Buffet talking which makes the entire story even funnier than it already is!

Obama:  “And I said, Warren, when you come to see the POTUS, you need to wear a good tie.” He goes and and gets Buffet one of his ties: “Put that tie on, Warren! It’s yours.”

Buffett: “He did! He did! And I’ve still got it.”

Damian also finds the opportunity to ask Obama the question he wants to ask:

“When does he find the time to watch Homeland?”

We find out the answer as Damian tell Jonathan Ross with a super fun Obama impersonation:

And what’s Damian’s impression of the president? He tells Hollywood Reporter at the Premiere of Homeland Season 2:

“He’s a charming, impressive, powerful — obviously — man. But he’s much more alpha male in the room than you think he’s going to be. When he first came into power,” he explained, “all the dissenters were keen to point out that he looked good in a suit and he was a lawyer and he drank cappuccino, and where was the American guy? He’s really every bit the American guy, when you’re with him.”

I just wonder if Damian has chosen to go British or American with the president!

And did the president ask for spoilers? Damian tells Hollywood Reporter:

“No, he didn’t ask about plot, because he didn’t want to spoil it. He wants to watch it.”

Well… It turns out President Obama is not the only US president that is a fan! Damian tells on PopCorn with Peter Travers:

And here is the most hilarious part of the visit: Many thanks go to Ann, a great fan, for mentioning this and I was lucky to find the information online. Damian tells the Evening Standard:

“I actually did nick a set of napkins — I’ve got White House napkins now at my place in Tufnell Park.”

We hope there will be other opportunities for a visit to the White House in the years to come and that these two complete their WH napkin set 😀

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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!

2 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday to Damian Lewis & Helen McCrory at the White House”

  1. I’m not surprised a couple as beautiful and sophisticated as the McCrory/Lewises would not need hours to prepare and I love they spent the time to visit our beautiful capital! I am surprised a former president would go to the trouble to take Damian aside in order to criticize his fellow citizens! We’re not the doofuses some believe!
    Thank you for a lovely post and trip into the past!

    1. Thank you for reading! It is a lovely story indeed.

      About your comment on Clinton — the social scientist in me cannot help speak a bit:) I am sure you do not have people like that around you — your family, your friends, your neighbors — so it makes sense you do not believe it. Yet social science research shows that Americans, on average (so it is not a generalization, it is a distribution) are more likely to be scared/suspicious of the “other” (religion, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, etc) than their counterparts in other advanced democracies. That’s why shows like Homeland and Billions could be instrumental in acknowledging Muslim or gender non-binary citizens/residents, respectively. So i think the former president was just showing appreciation for the kind of contribution Damian made to the greater good in portraying Nicholas Brody on screen.

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