While Damian is currently in NYC filming the rest of Billions Season 5, this past year has been different than any other for him (and for us all)! There was no filming, no theatre, no cheering for his beloved Liverpool at Anfield, no live concert or summer festival. But the good news is that the pandemic let Damian spend more time than ever with his family, let him make a lot of time for charity and let those of us on the other side of the pond catch our favorite actor in a few fabulous virtual performances! So it is my pleasure today to revisit the year Damian spent home.
Only a few weeks after the lockdown started in the UK, Damian and Helen, in collaboration with comedian Matt Lucas and John Vincent of Leon Restaurants, launched FeedNHS to deliver hot and healthy meals to the front line heroes across the UK. They kicked off the charity in London and, soon after, they reached out to the other big cities like Birmingham, Manchester, Aberdeen, Cardiff, and Edinburgh. They contributed to the FeedNHS blog and helped raise more than 1 Million pounds for the cause. Hats off!
When they had the opportunity to formally launch FeedNHS on Good Morning Britain, Damian and Helen shared that they were in their second home near Sudbury in Suffolk when the lockdown began and so they stayed there. While Helen talked about the emotional ups and downs she had during the pandemic (I am right there with you, girlfriend!) Damian joked he did not know she looked like that 🙂
Then they appeared on BBC Breakfast the following morning where Helen made a strong and an absolutely true statement about how the pandemic has brought the country together.
“We’re only as strong as each other.”
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) March 30, 2020
The couple also openly expressed that they valued the quality time they have had together as a family.
Damian talked about doing things together:
“Playing Monopoly, playing Risk, planting a hedge, doing some cooking together. The day goes by in a flash when you’re in one place.”
Risk? Oh yes! I’m such a poker-face Risk player that I would give a non-essential organ to play against Damian… and WIN of course 🙂
Helen called spending time with family during the lockdown a fantastic privilege in her brilliant Desert Island Discs:
“I’m here to tell you I haven’t taught myself any languages, I haven’t read any book of any worth, I’ve never had so long to sit and think. That’s been strange for Damian and I. I’m mean we’ve never…I’ve only just met him. I’ve no idea he was an American until about a week ago! We’ve been with the children who are now 12 and 13. That’s been a fantastic privilege to be with them.”
And when the couple was asked in an interview with The Telegraph about how home-schooling was going:
Helen: “Oh f***, I mean, the kids are feral. Mud in their hair. We would definitely have been shut down by Ofsted by now. But they’re doing well… I think, I’ve no idea actually. Damian, are they doing well?”
Damian: “They’re all right.Their Tik-Tok skills are coming on no end.”
Helen shared more about coping with Covid-19 on the BBC Coronavirus Newscast…
…while Damian revealed his wife’s new screen crush!!!! Yeah it is possible for a woman to have a screen crus even when she is married to Damian Lewis 🙂
Damian tweeted on March 30 that the first hot meals were being delivered to St Mary’s Paddington Hospital that day.
First hot meals from us at #FEEDNHS @RealMattLucas @JohnV_LEON going out to St Mary’s Paddington today! Hot meals for NHS front line soon to start all over UK. Please donate at https://t.co/FAPLmAiu6n to help FEEDNHS! pic.twitter.com/zjDIv2Xpi5
— Damian Lewis (@lewis_damian) March 30, 2020
He told Deadline:
“There’s no centralized model for doing something like this and working with the NHS, there’s no centralized model at the NHS either. Crucially, this can only last as long as people give money. That’s the point. No one is funding this except the public.”
And while Helen shared more about coping with Covid-19 on the BBC Coronavirus Newscast…
“We’re all doing our bit and not going out. But you feel responsible, you know you’re watching the news, we’re all reading it, we’re all finding out what’s happening over the world, and it’s so overwhelming.
It sort of seems, as Damian says, it’s fantastical. You think you’re absolutely fine, you’re pottering along, you’re coping with it. Cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking. And you suddenly burst into tears.’
‘And it’s this fear, and it’s the vulnerability coming out, and then you pick yourself up and you go along again as if nothing happened. And it’s very surreal.”
…Damian talked to Bloomberg about the vulnerability the pandemic has brought:
“I find myself within the course of a day launching from great assuredness and certainty about how we are all going to pull through this, myself and my family. And launching from that to great teariness and vulnerability and a sense of not knowing, which is very undermining, and wanting to give comfort to people around you, just launching back and forth. Anyone who knows grief will know how this feels: Being OK and then crying. This is a small version of that, or maybe a larger one.”
The couple shared with The Telegraph how they had a sense purpose in the middle of a global pandemic:
Damian: “I think we do feel we have a sense of purpose, which is great. I’ve actually found it quite stressful, being all hands to the pump. For some it’s been time to switch off, have some calm, be with one another. But we were flat out.”
Helen: “One of the definitions of stress is feeling overwhelmed and out of control of your situation, and I think being able to control something does make you feel much more able to get up and have a focus on what you need to do. Damian and I have spent a month on the phone…”
Wearing his charity hat once again, Damian played the guitar and sang “Have you seen my girl?” on World Health Day for #HopeFromHome – a first-of-its-kind multi-platform digital fundraising event to help fight the impacts of COVID-19.
Hmmm… look, Damian… While we love you sing, we have a lot of questions about that alligator head hanging on the wall! 😀 😀 😀
And as an ambassador of Prince’s Trust, Damian also participated in a Prince’s Trust video to urge young people to seek help during the pandemic.
Damian was also there to support Ruth Strauss Foundation that supports families dealing with the loss of a parent from cancer.
— Damian Lewis (@lewis_damian) April 26, 2020
And he was on Zoom talking about his love of history for the “History Matters” series Gully’s school launched as part of their digital learning programme.
Is there anything this guy cannot do?
I do not think so. And his latest is that he has become a bird watcher during the pandemic!
I’ve become a bird watcher.
2 Dunnocks having a right old time of it in the tree opposite. One is high status and is slightly bullying the other.
— Damian Lewis (@lewis_damian) April 16, 2020
A fun moment from the family’s stay in their country house was when Weston’s Bakery, a family run bakery and coffee shop in Sudbury, posted on their Facebook page and called locals to let Damian know that he has to come back for his discount! 😀
Oh, and you may ask… “hey Damian, where is the mask?” We believe he removed it so he can promote the bakery as a celebrity should!
We have then seen our favorite couple on TV again on Victory Day where their living room was decorated probably by the whole family to celebrate V-day.
And the next thing was the most anticipated reunion of the century, as I like to call it, that took place on Zoom:
Damian Lewis and Claire Danes, two talented and clever actors, in their conversation as part of Variety’s Actors-on-Actors series, reminded us once again why we fell for Brody and Carrie in Homeland. They were real. They were smart. They were funny. And they made me believe, for a second, that Brody was alive and grew a beard for a witness protection program 😀
Oh, and Damian zoomed with Claire in his car because he did not have great connection at home and so he drove around in the English countryside for better Internet connection!
Here is my favorite part of the conversation:
Claire: “I loved my partnership with you on so many levels. More than anything, just making the scene happen. You were so present, so invested and spontaneous. I missed you so much when you left. It was amazing when you came back for that flashback in the fourth season. On television, you get to live these characters’ lives in almost real time: That whole season was about Carrie grieving the loss of Brody, and I was grieving the loss of you, my friend and acting partner. I got to work through that in the fiction. There you were, this ghostlike vision, but you were also actually there to pretend to be it. That was a real surprise, how powerful that was, and how valuable that was for me personally.”
Damian: “I think the thing that I enjoyed so much was that it really mattered to us. It was important. There was such sincerity from everybody.”
I remember our weekend — the famous episode of the first season, when we went out to the cabin. Do you remember we talked and we talked? Oh, my God, and then you lost your s–t with me because I did a stupid walk, and you were still in the middle of the scene. You were like, “Damian! That is not OK!” I had done this goofy Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks to make people laugh, and you were still in the middle of this thing. But it was that particular nuance, trying to thread the truth. Who was playing who, was there real affection, and how were we going to parse it out in the most delicate and truthful way? They were a tense couple of days.”
Claire: “It was really intense.”
Damian: “That’s the fun, isn’t it? Apart from the joking and the banter — it’s actually the intensity of the work, isn’t it, that you really remember. Whether it was important or not, and “Homeland” always felt so important, didn’t it?”
Claire: “It did. When you left, I was always looking back to you as Carrie to Brody. She has other relationships, sort of, but that was the central one. I miss those days when she was more in the present tense. That was gone for her, and therefore for me, which I’m only realizing now as I’m talking to you. She was living with a ghost forevermore. The trauma of feeling responsible for what happened at 9/11 was also a source of haunting for her. She was haunted by a lot of things. But somehow she was more in the present tense — and she was more in her body — when she was with Brody.”
SIGH. SIGH. SIGH. You can watch/read the conversation in its entirety here.
Now, we all know Damian is a sports guy through and through. So even in the year of Covid-19 we need to have a “sports section” in this post!
First things first. I am positive that while he wanted to live THE MOMENT in the stadium with his beloved LFC and his fellow fans, Damian was ecstatic to see Liverpool as the English Premiere League Champions in 2020 after three decades!
— Damian Lewis (@lewis_damian) June 26, 2020
Then Will Greenwood had Damian on his podcast for a fun conversation about sports. I mean, name a sport and Damian can talk about it. Football, of course. But also Rugby. And Cricket. And golf, tennis, field & track and more. As someone who gets super excited at sports events (I cannot watch the penalty shoot-outs in football matches when I have stakes) I was thrilled to hear that my favorite actor feels the same at the very moment when, say, Usain Bolt arrives at the finish line, or Roger Federer makes the match point. No wonder Greenwood said he would record Damian’s inspiring words below and hear them every day to motivate himself!
This was a lot of fun chatting sport/shit with @WillGreenwood, the man who played rugby with a ramrod straight back, like a regency dandy strutting along the promenade, looking for his next mark. Thanks for having me on Greens!! And thanks Rupert! https://t.co/vYKwXihMZf
— Damian Lewis (@lewis_damian) June 30, 2020
You can hear the entire podcast here.
And one rare outing for Damian in this Covid-19 summer was a sport event: Damian was the captain for The Actors in their annual cricket match against their long time rivals The Authors at Ascott Park Cricket Grounds. The captain led his team to victory – bravo!
Early September has seen the limited release of Dream Horse in movie theatres across the UK. Obviously there was no premiere and no red carpet pictures but Damian did a short Zoom interview on ITV about the movie that you can see below.
Well, everyone needs a bit of normalcy in these times where nothing is as we know it anymore. So seeing Damian and his kids Manon and Gulliver having a stroll on Oxford Street, one of the main shopping streets in London, made me smile. Note that when Gulliver turns 13 this November, the household will officially have TWO teenagers. We wish Damian and Helen best of luck with that! And you can see more pictures of Damian and the kids on our gallery.
I said at the beginning of the post that Damian’s summer was bookended by two Covid-19 related activities. While the left bookend was FeedNHS, the right bookend was a public performance on Zoom. Damian brought to life King Oedipus in Theater of War‘s Oedipus Project UK that was about the incredible parallels between Ancient Greece dealing with the plague and the world in 2020 dealing with the pandemic.
I always thought nothing could beat a live performance on stage since the actors and the audience form a special bond in that physical space, they develop some kind of magical energy together that lasts beyond the play. But, while I miss seeing actors on stage, I now understand that Zoom can be a wonderful platform for theatre if the actors give their all to the performance, that is, if they have the vigor and the commitment JaniaJania talks about in her fabulous review of Damian’s portrayal of Oedipus in the Theater of War’s Zoom production.
Damian was so present as Oedipus the King. It was a true privilege to see him up close on screen: his eyes almost spoke, and his whole body was involved. No wonder Claire Danes tells Damian that he is such a physical actor in their brilliant Variety Actors on Actors conversation. You can see our Oedipus close-ups gallery here.
Last but absolutely not the least, Damian worked the phones on the trading floor on BGC Charity Day to raise money for Cure EB and Sir Huber Von Herkomer Arts Foundation for the last couple of years. While he was not there on the trading floor this year, he sent two heartfelt messages for both charities via Zoom!
Great to see Damian Lewis, cheering on our BGC brokers to raise as much as possible for charity today! Here he is supporting @SirHvHArts and all the amazing work they do. @lewis_damian #BGCCharityDay pic.twitter.com/Mhg4h6h7sF
— BGC Charity Day (@BGCCharityDay) September 11, 2020
And we finish on an upbeat note: Damian and Helen were the wedding singers – Damian playing the guitar and the two of them singing Irish songs – at their friends’ wedding at the Kensington and Chelsea Register Office! I imagine the event felt nostalgic for our favorite couple since they tied the knot right there 13 years ago! We have lots of pics from the celebration on our gallery.
And then there is A Spy Among Friends, a BritBox limited series based on Ben McIntyre’s best selling book, whose cast Damian will lead along with Dominic West. I have already read the book, twice, and written about my thoughts here. And I cannot wait to see these two Eton-educated actors to portray two Eton-educated spies. Stay tuned for our first look at the project sometime this fall. And stay well and stay healthy!
And Damian also mentioned that his Rookery Productions was exploring the possibility of making a documentary on the Feed NHS initiative.
“There are opportunities to make documentaries about the NHS from our kitchen — obviously archive-heavy, I would imagine.”
And this is only the first 6 months at home. We will talk about the rest of Damian’s year at home next week.