It’s not a secret I LOVE New York! I moved to the city for my first job in 2001 just a few weeks before September 11, lived that big tragedy, and the strength and the resilience the city showed in the face of the attacks made me LOVE New York first… and the rest is history. My husband and I fell in love with what the city had to offer so much so that when we moved to North Carolina for new jobs after five years, we just didn’t give up on our tiny little apartment and we now spend long weekends and all our breaks in the city, in fact, the only city that I genuinely feel I belong to. Let me put my love for NYC in words this way: If I had not blogged about Damian Lewis, I would have blogged about New York City!
So… Imagine my off-the-charts thrill when I first heard Damian Lewis would make Billions in New York! It’s not just that I love New York and I enjoy everything it offers — from its world-class museums to theater to restaurants to Central Park — but I just LOVE it when people visit and enjoy New York.
Anyhow, I can brag about New York all day but my point is that I am just psyched Damian Lewis is now in New York… and not alone, but with his family – hurrah! And, it seems Damian and Helen had a head start in their NY social life, first with a screening and an after party for the new Woody Allen movie Irrational Man and then seeing Fun Home on Broadway.
I have to admit, as much as I was happy about Damian making Billions in New York, I felt for him as they shot the pilot in January — it was the coldest January I have ever seen and the poor guy had to brave at least two snow storms with the rest of us! And, I really hope he really did not have to jump into that outdoor pool that we saw in the first Billions teaser in freezing temperatures. One of our readers commented that it could, in fact, be a CDBG (computer-designed background) and I want to believe her!
Now… It’s not Damian’s first time living in New York. He lived in the city as a 24 year old in 1995 when he made his Broadway debut as Laertes to Ralph Fiennes’ Hamlet and he remembers how he made NYC his “playground” at the time in an interview with Newsweek:
“All of us young British actors lived two lives in New York. Our public face was hardworking British thespians performing Shakespeare on stage by day, and at night we availed ourselves of all the pleasures New York has to offer. It became our playground. Sometimes I wouldn’t get to bed until 6 in the morning, and then wake up at 12 and stagger to midtown for a matinee.
Early on in Hamlet, Laertes is sent away to Paris by his father, Polonious, and sometimes I was so exhausted from running around all night with my pals that I would sleep for an hour in the middle of the show in a little bed, which I had erected underneath the costume rail. These thick tunics smelling of old theatrical wardrobes would brush my nose as I went into a deep slumber. Someone would nudge me five minutes before I had to go back, and then I would leap out of my cot, splash water on my face, and run on stage and yell to Ophelia, “The king, the king’s to blame!” Looking back, I can’t believe I did it. I was young and foolish.”
It’s all good, Damian, we’ve all been there, we’ve all done that in different contexts, haven’t we?
Damian Lewis also lived in New York in 2004 when he made the wonderful indie movie Keane about which I blogged earlier here. He talks about that time in a Sunday Times interview: “I lived in New York for six months in 2004 when I was making Keane, a film I’m proud of… I stayed on Christopher Street, in the West Village, in a classic old New York building with an iron fire escape, and lived the life of a single man in a bedsit, which was a lot of fun. Manhattan has an intensity because of its density – it never really closes down, and you can walk everywhere.”
Oh yes, West Village has ALL a single man in his early 30s could ask for — first, it is the heart and soul of NYC night life and music scene with jazz bars and all, and as much as New York is “the city that never sleeps”, even if some parts of it doze off for a few minutes, West Village doesn’t 🙂 Second, yes, you can walk from any point A to any point B on Manhattan — you cannot do it in any other big city in the world, yep, I’m sorry but not even in lovely London 🙂
Now that he’s living in New York, I believe the way Damian “lives” New York has changed a bit 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, he’s still working hard and playing hard but probably not as hard as in his twenties… and playing more family-friendly games… Like his recent visit to wildly loved Museum of Mathematics (aka “the coolest thing that ever happened to math!”) which the museum was happy to share on Twitter!
Ha! If you are curious about Damian’s favorite exhibit Structure Studio, here’s the description from the museum website: “Build unusual three-dimensional structures with MoMath’s changing series of construction toys based on unexpected geometrical relationships.”
Damian Lewis made Homeland in Charlotte, North Carolina; and the kind of life he had there was quite different — except for hard work, of course! — from the life he has in his home city London or that he will have now in New York. It’s funny that I LIVE that difference all the time in my life since I spend my time between North Carolina and New York — yeah, I’m a magnet that attracts Damian’s TV projects to wherever I live — so stay tuned for my next move 😀
In an interview with Hunger Magazine, we find out that Damian, in fact, missed city life when he filmed Homeland in North Carolina: “When filming Homeland, I spent most of my time in Charlotte, North Carolina. It’s a very large and spread-out place where you rely heavily on cars. I missed the clamour of London; it’s a much more condensed city where you can exercise your senses. I love getting out of cars and getting on the tube. I also missed riding my bicycle, and of course, going to the pub.”
And, he truly lives to his word. He takes the Tube all the time, and walks and bikes on the streets of London, and I have a smile on my face every time I see a picture of him doing THAT…
Just to make sure… I am not judging anyone here about his or her choice about where to live… and I know that it is often not a choice but it is about where life takes you… I understand my friends who think cities are congested, and noisy, and the subway is all about push and pull — ha, ha this is something I am pretty competitive at 😀 They just want a yard and a good school for their kids and move to suburbs. I, myself, also live in a suburban area thanks to my job for a big chunk of the year.
When you grow up in a city though, you are an urban creature by nature, and it defines you to a certain extent that you love most things urban. Streets give you your freedom, city parks give you the backyard you long for, people and the noise make you feel alive! The city emits energy in a way that makes you feel energetic! And, I second Damian that “you exercise your senses.” You see, and you smell, and you hear, and you taste, and you touch, and you feel alive.
One of my all-time favorite Damian Lewis quotes comes from an interview with Vogue: “As much as we may look like power-hungry, mad people, we are very committed, first and foremost, to living our life.” And, as a believer in that quote, I really hope, as he works hard and brings to life the “brilliant, ambitious, hedge-fund king” Bobby Axelrod in Billions, Damian also has some time to live his New York life! And, as I wish him and his family the most pleasant and FUN stay in New York, let Sting sing his famous song — one of my all time favorites for Damian!
BTW, in case you know the lyrics to the song… The line “you can hear it in my accent when you hear me talk” may apply to Sting but not to our Englishman unless he wants you to hear it — he can fool even top professionals with his flawless American accent 😀