Prop Improv with Damian Lewis – Redux

L: Tardis from Dr. Who; C: Wonka Bar from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, ghost trap from Ghost Busters, Wilson from Cast Away; R: Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter

According to Wikipedia, a prop, formally known as theatrical property, is an object used on stage or screen by actors during a performance or production. In practical terms, a prop is considered to be anything movable or portable on a stage or a set, distinct from the actors, scenery, costumes, and electrical equipment. Based on that definition, clothing, shoes, hats or scarves would typically be out of play, but we are going to bend the rule just a bit and allow it! Interesting enough, consumable food items appearing in a production could be considered props, too.

So you know what all this means? It’s game time! Name three stage or screen props you would most like to own from the set of any of Damian’s theatre, film or television series and explain why. As an added bonus, some of us came up with an original or funny use of the prop, without using the prop the way it was intended. Let’s play Prop Improv with Damian Lewis.


Theatre: American Buffalo – “Walter Teach Cole” – his suit, shades, ring (entire outfit) I love the 70’s and everything about this look, from the purple suit with matching tinted sunnies to the sideburns and handlebar ‘stache. I would encase the look in a glass display as decor, okay shrine, in the middle of my living room.

Television: Life – “Charlie Crews” – the Spyderco knife. I like it’s versatility, from opening up packages and slicing fruit, to protection and weaponry. I would use it as a garden tool except I would be careful not to dig up any fingers 🙂

Film: Brides – “Norman Harris” – his camera.  This little inanimate object brought tenderness, warmth and romance to the film. We were seeing love through his lens, almost as if we were spying on his intimate moments captured in time. I would use the camera for its intended purpose as a hobbyist photographer.


I’d go with three props from three of my all-time favorite scenes that will stay with me forever for different reasons…

Brody’s Fake Hand from Homeland

Q & A is my favorite Homeland episode in which Carrie breaks Brody in an intimate conversation. Here is a man confessing his crimes to a woman who makes him to while the man and the woman fall for each other. As Maureen Ryan, the Huffington Post TV critic suggests, the episode“proved that two people talking can be the most fascinating thing on earth.”

The prop I want appears in the previous scene where Quinn starts the interrogation as the bad cop, driving a knife through Brody’s hand, paving the way for Carrie, the good cop, to come in and break the man.

Yes! I want the lifelike copy of Brody’s hand they used in the stabbing scene as a reminder of the Brody I fell in love with as well as the pain he constantly lived with, physically and psychologically. And, hey, it may come handy on Halloween, too!

From top to bottom: The lifelike copy of Brody’s hand on set with Quinn’s knife embedded, Damian’s hand with a balsa wood handle glued to his skirt, Damian tries the finished product 🙂

Dick Winters’ Shaving Set from Band of Brothers

Dick Winters led men to battle, and always led from the front. He himself always set an example for his company that looked up to him and loved him as their competent and courageous leader. And there is certainly something about a man that shaves every morning despite the bitter cold and constant artillery barrage in the Ardennes Forest.

I read in a book Major Winters got this advice from Colonel Sink who told him a soldier should shave every morning no matter what. He said,  “you shave every morning for the troops, and if you want to shave every evening for the women, it is up to you.” And Winters taking this advice is yet another example of how he always set an example for his men. I want to have the shaving brush Damian used in the series as a constant reminder of the courage, integrity, and discipline Dick Winters had. And Lewisto can put it into good use 🙂

The Slide from Billions

Wendy and Chuck are standing in Axe’s living room because the two men fucked it up gloriously and the situation has got so incestuous that if one of them goes to jail the other two will end up there as well. So there is no other way but putting the measuring tape aside and calmly discuss how to bounce back together. But before Wendy’s two lost boys leave their weapons on the table, Chuck needs a bathroom break, not to pee but to plant the slide in Axe’s toiletry bag… and before we have been able to lift our jaws off the floor, he is back at the table.

Axe: “Full transparency. I give you my word.”

Chuck: “You want transparency? How fucking clear is this?”

Oh man, oh man, oh man! Even weeks after the episode was aired, I still found myself watching those few minutes of the episode again, again, and again. Believe me, it was a first for me. I just could not stop myself! And so I want THAT very slide as a reminder of what happens when three brilliant people finally sit together to save their asses!


I am sentimental, by nature.  I make no apologies for this!  This game is an ultimate exercise in sentimentality for us all, and I LOVE it!  So for my three props, I’d choose:

King Henry’s Hat

source: BBC

He’s wearing it in so many iconic scenes in Wolf Hall, I think it would be a REALLY cool thing to have on display in my home.  Or maybe I’d take it for a spin at our local Renaissance Festival!

Brody’s Quran 

This might sound like a funny one, to anyone who knows me.  I am a confident atheist, but I find the stories of people finding faith and also losing their faith to be fascinating, complex and messy.  I am glad the show did not shy away from this element in the writing.

The personal pineapple!  

One of the most iconic and funny moments in the whole series of Life.  I am not sure if it was a REAL piece of fruit or a fake, but I like to imagine it was fake, so that it can be mine 🙂

Lady Trader

  1. The skull of Yorick from Hamlet

As a lover of Shakespeare, I of course would want something that Damian has used in his appearances in the Bard’s productions. As Hamlet is probably my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays (each actor brings something different to Hamlet, which is why I believe you can see it with a different lead and get something new every time), I’d love Yorick’s skull! Yorick would sit right on my desk, and work with me everyday. There are days in the market (last few weeks for example!!) where you need to vent, and not need someone to offer their advice! Yorick would certainly be my silent partner!

2. Charlie Crews’ Buick Grand National 

Charlie Crews could have any car he wanted. But when he saw this beauty, he stopped in his tracks. I wrote about this being my Dad’s dream car (Life with Charlie Crews), so I want it! I wouldn’t drive it; I’d give it to my Dad. The look on his face when I handed him the keys would be priceless!!

3. Bobby Axelrod’s Bloomberg Terminals

Yeah, not going to get out of this without Lady Trader snagging something from Axe!

I would love having access to Axe’s Bloomberg terminals to see what his positions are, and what the next big idea from Axe Capital might be. Then, the real decision comes: do I long it or short it?


1) Brody’s Tea Mug

I was puttering around on amazon a while back trying to fill my cart to get the free shipping, and having long ago exhausted all sources for Damian-related multimedia enrichment, I ended up in groceries. There, I found some tea. Yorkshire Gold tea to be exact. Remember? The blasted tea that drew the epic beauty of Homeland S1, Episode7, “The Weekend” to an abrupt and devastating end??

How do you know the tea I drink?… Were you spying on me? *brr*

Well, it’s a real tea and I have it now in my pantry where I glare at it periodically and wax nostalgic on what could have been.

Good thing that episode and season of Homeland never let us breath let alone think too long about the improbability of a small town guy from middle America with a Marine hair cut and a high school sweetheart wife having allegiance to a particular brand of tea. Okay, let me not be tea-ist, and, sure, let’s believe that pre-war Brody and the Missus probably spent many a balmy mid-Atlantic night watching the fireflies flit about while sipping on a warm cuppa YG. Let’s suspend disbelief and accept as canon that Nicholas Brody liked to drink Yorkshire Gold tea.  The real tea is pretty good, much stronger than you’d think. And now that I have the tea, what I would really love as FAN-errific accompaniment is the cup from which Brody drank that infernal brew. We never saw the cup on screen, but he must have one, right? I imagine a 70’s style stoneware mug, handed down from either his or Jess’s parents, a tiny chip on the edge but otherwise sturdy and nice to hold. Now, wouldn’t that be special?

2) Bobby’s Fur Throw Rug

Axe: now there’s a man with a lot of stuff. Rooms and garages and helicopter and airplane hangars full of stuff. What caught my eye is minor compared to all his other belongings. I saw it first when it appeared in the promo Showtime did for Billions leading up to Season 2 wherein they showed the fully furnished floor plan of Bobby’s new penthouse digs. This object caught and held my eye much longer than we actually got to see it on screen where it appeared only briefly in situ, as fleeting backdrop to the scene where Chuck is rummaging around in Bobby’s master bath, trying to find a hiding place for the slide of the Ice Juice bug.

The reason it caught my eye was the wacky juxtaposition of fur and water. But then the mind, such as it is, goes to Axe, one lonely evening, when the help he’s hired to clear the pipes and keep his bed warm is not available, deciding to put that jacuzzi tub to use, throwing that throw on the floor while he enjoys the bubbles and jets, then stepping out on that fur, his lovely and quite valuable little piggies immediately ensconced in furry luxury. The help he’s hired to keep the place immaculate probably install fresh new linens before the next time he takes a bath, so, yeah, he won’t miss that particular piece of wet fur, I promise.

3) Astronauts and Businessmen

Now for something a bit more pricey. We’ve seen that Axe surrounds himself with big pieces of big art both at home and in the office and we’ve gotten some justification that, yes, indeed, real hedgies like their big art. It’s been said and most believe that one of the principal roles of art is to build empathy.  I could go on about the absence of any sense of feeling Axe has towards any of his decor. Or any feeling towards anything around him, for that matter, human or inanimate, save for his own name and the money attached to it. What lights Bobby’s emotional center is a question still left largely unanswered, perhaps to remain so, as the show moves more towards comedy than drama. (And more power to them for even attempting comedy in this post-satirical age)

Big subtext and grand allusion was promised when, at the end of season 1, Axe spoke thru gritted teeth:

When I take a deal off the table, I leave Nagasaki behind.

The grand scale of that grand line has largely gone unexplored and the sentiment remains just a really great line.

So, what does Axe see in all that great art he surrounds himself with? All evidence points to him not seeing anything beyond the fact that it is indeed big art with big price tags. And chances are pretty high that the irony of it all is lost within the transaction. Goodness knows not everyone at Axe Cap nor most of the folks who love Bobby Axelrod as a symbol of American greatness care to see anything beyond that.

Thus, since no one gets it anyway, and they can always replace it with another high priced canvas, the third and final object I’d like to get my grubby paws on is the painting in Axe’s office: Baldessari’s Astronauts and Businessmen.

The piece takes all attention when the camera enters the room, and, to me, it speaks louder than whatever is written to accompany its presence in the scene. Below, the faceless business class, hunched and anonymous, each man as easily replaceable as a cog. And above, suited up, well-insulated explorers of the final frontier, astronauts just as faceless as the men below them and just as interchangeable but brightened up in technicolor. One thing feeds the other. The machine feeds the dream. The composition is a pyramid and it’s not a stretch to imagine that, as with any pyramid, at the very tippy top, in the words of both Bobby and Highlander:

There can be only one.

The canvas nicely summarizes that perpetual reach towards greatness, the dream deferred, driving this country and all of us. Or, since the astronaut gear seems sort of hokey fake sci-fi, maybe the painting is about the neglected average joes feeding and being fed a technicolor fantasy? This is all probably reading too much into it, no doubt. Whatever it may mean, me want that painting.


Hi there Fellow Fanfunners! Damianista suggested that I write a little bit about my decision to add a twist to our game. So I shall except it was nothing as clever as a decision I simply forgot the rules :-} ! I enjoyed the writing, hope you enjoy the results!

Soames’ Walking Stick

Soames’s walking stick left behind in a carriage, makes it’s fabulous stage debut combined with a top hat and only a bit more in a naughty review starring the Star of London Burlesque the fortuitously red headed ….. Lady Holliedazzle!

Charlie’s Cork Board Closet

When Charlie Crews Lt Rt LAPD left LA with his wife Dani and moved to Sedona Az, it was a simple move. He hadn’t much in the way of furnishings. The only trace left behind was a closet lined with cork board. Many viewers found this odd but not off-putting. Until the house was viewed by a couple from North Carolina/NYC. She was commissioned to present a series of advanced lectures on game theory at UCLA (there was talk of a Nobel!). When she saw the closet she thought “What a perfect space to start plans for our recommitment ceremony and 30th anniversary!”
They held on to their tiny NY apartment.

An Amazing Treasure

Deep in the 16th Century England a small girl finds an amazing thing, a red velvet purse! Never has she seen such an object, such fabric! She treasures it all her life and passes it down to her daughter. Meanwhile in the nearby Palace at Whitehall his majesty Henry VIII bellows, “How the hell does a man lose his codpiece!”

Author: Gingersnap

Management Analyst, part-time Adjunct Professor and Computer Software Consultant by day and Damian Lewis aficionado by night.

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