How Keane gave us Brody and How Brody gave us Axe *UPDATED*

Lodge Kerrigan’s beautiful film ‘Keane‘ with Damian Lewis received a 4K restoration thanks to Grasshopper Films and had special screenings at several movie theaters in the U.S in summer – fall 2022. I was very lucky to be at the Film at Lincoln Center’s screening in August 2022 followed by a a Q&A with Lodge Kerrigan and Damian himself. The 4K restored ‘Keane’ is available for streaming on AppleTV. So… why don’t we talk today about how this critically acclaimed movie caused a chain reaction in Damian’s career? 

Join me!

I am sure that, by now, you have got to know me quite well. Yes, I’m a little bit (ok, ok more than a little bit) obsessed with Brody… All roads do not lead to Rome, they all lead to… yes, Bravo, to Brody!

Now, I love William Keane, too. I LOVE him.


Did you know that if there had been no William Keane, there would have been no Nicholas Brody? I mean there would have been some Brody in Homeland, but not our Brody! Can you imagine?

I know… You cannot! So… it’s critical for us to know how William Keane gave us OUR Brody 🙂

Damian Lewis tells in an interview with Men’s Journal that when Homeland co-creator Alex Gansa offered his name for the part of Nicholas Brody, Showtime executives said NO.

“The Showtime executives vowed Damian Lewis would never play Brody. Back in 2010, Danes had already been cast as the female lead. But finding her foil was proving difficult. ‘It was really hard because you needed an actor who could play a cipher in the first few episodes,’ says ‘Homeland co-creator Alex Gansa. ‘Actors always want to make a choice: My guy is a bad guy; my guy is a good guy. I really thought Damian could pull off not going either way.’

But the studio didn’t agree. Gansa went back to work and found a guy, but Danes exercised her veto power. So he went back to the studio with Lewis’ name again. Their reaction was not positive. ‘They told me, ‘I never want to hear that name again; Damian Lewis is a dead issue,'” says Gansa, chuckling. The show was in danger of being stillborn when Michael Cuesta – director of the show’s pilot episode – told Gansa about a barely seen 2004 indie film starring Lewis.


The film is called ‘Keane,’ and it follows Lewis in some state of psychotic breakdown as he wanders around Port Authority in NYC looking for a lost daughter who may or may not exist. It’s 90 minutes of one of the most harrowing films I’ve ever seen.”

[Damianista’s side note: In case you have not seen Keane yet, here is the trailer and both JaniaJania and I blogged about the movie, too, here and here. And I also blogged about the making of Keane here.

When it is time for audience questions at the Film at Lincoln Center screening, as people naturally think of what to ask, my hand, also naturally, is up in the air already! 😀

So, I say, I  read in a recent interview with Lodge Kerrigan that he was tempted to cast Damian as William Keane when he saw his portrayal of Dick Winters in Band of Brothers. And I know Keane was instrumental in Damian getting cast in Homeland: Here I say “Nick Brody – my all-time favorite fictional character. So thank you, Keane. Thank you, Mr. Kerrigan. Can you give us some insight about this?”

“We try to keep these things quiet so people don’t start asking for checks.”

😀 😀 😀

“There is a lovely little thing in there and I’ll share it, a little bit of showbiz gossip, I guess, some inside scoop.  Thanks, Bahar, for the question. Yes, when they were trying to cast Homeland, they were struggling to cast Brody. And it was another East Coast director, whom I admire very much, called Michael Cuesta, who made a film called L.I.E. back in the day in the same sort of time…  He was brought on as the lead director on Homeland. And they couldn’t cast Brody, they already had Claire, they already had Mandy. And he said: “Watch this movie. I’m a huge fan of the director.  It’s remarkable.” This is Keane.  Back in the day when you still got your Netflix on a CD, and they weren’t all available. Some you could get, remember the time, you ordered the CD and some were already uploaded, so Alex Gansa, who wrote it, looked it up and is telling me the story later: “If I had to order the CD and waited a day for it to arrive I wouldn’t have bothered. So someone had paid for the rights, so I sat and watched 20 minutes of it, it was 11pm at night, and went home 90 minutes later having watched the whole thing.” And he came to ask me to be Brody. Thanks, Lodge.”

Oh My God. Can you imagine a world where someone else was cast as Brody? I would still probably “discover” Damian in one of his excellent roles, but I do not think any other character he played would make me launch a blog in Damian’s name.

You can watch the entire Q&A here. If you are interested in my question and Damian’s answer only, you can find it at 25:35 🙂

Damian adds that he was able to return the favor, and Michael Cuesta was instrumental in this, and got Kerrigan his first TV job. Kerrigan directed Damian in Homeland Season 2 Episode 3 State of Independence in which Brody takes care of the tailor 😀

Damian Lewis as Nicholas “Nick” Brody and Nasser Faris as Bassel (The Tailor) in Homeland (season 2, episode 03). – Photo: Bob Leverone/SHOWTIME

In an older interview, Damian tells Esquire about how he finally got the part:

“I was filming in Manchester in December in that unbelievable snow we had three years ago… I was stuck in my hotel with them saying, ‘We need a decision’. And I couldn’t get hold of [his wife] Helen.

Lewis had read one episode. As is the way of these things, he was expected to make a decision to move back to LA. He called his agent back, though an hour later than agreed.

“I said, ‘I think I’m going to say ‘yes’,” he recalls. “He went, ‘What? Really? What do you mean ‘yes’? I’ve passed’. And I went, ‘What? No, you haven’t passed. I’ve just been through the wringer with Helen trying to work out whether we should do this or not, as a family’.”

Lewis’s deal was signed on 15 December 2010. The pilot started shooting on January 3. The casting directors didn’t even get to see him read with Danes.”

… And the rest is history!


Damian  brought us one of the most complex characters that we have ever seen on TV, received an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his fantastic portrayal of Nicholas Brody, made not just us, Homeland fans, but also Showtime executives fall in love with him… that after leaving Homeland after three seasons, it’s Showtime again for Damian Lewis in Billions.


Damian tells NPR’s Marketplace that he had no plans on doing another Showtime drama soon after he left Homeland.

“I figured it might be a way to sort of go out on top because it [‘Homeland’] was such fun and so well regarded and smart.”

But then he reads the script for Billions pilot and is hooked right away.

“I suppose in the same way ‘Homeland’ was able to dovetail with hard news, contemporary news, this has the ability to do the same thing- borrow from the headlines or not, but the parallels are there to be drawn and they’re fun to draw as the season goes on.”

It seems show creators were looking forward to working with Damian for a long time, too! PressTelegram reports this story that Billions co-creator Brian Koppelman has shared with them:

“Koppelman tells a story about how years ago he was sitting in an agency in New York with Levien when they saw Lewis, who was then starring in HBO’s “Band of Brothers,” walk by. “Dave turned to me and said, ‘Someday we are going to work with that guy.” He’s the best actor.’ ”

Can it get better than that?


And, Showtime boss David Nevins tells an audience in Edinburgh earlier this year about how he hired Damian Lewis for Billions:

Deadline reports: “A funny thing, Nevins said, was casting Damian Lewis in Billions, the network’s upcoming financial drama. Lewis, he recounted, felt it was too soon after Homeland to do another American TV show. “And I said, ‘Yeah, it’s too soon after Homeland for me to hire you. It feels like a little bit of a failure of creativity.’… It was that weird flirtation where we were both trying to reject each other, but you knew where it was going to end up,” he laughed.”

Thank you all for ending up where you are!

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!

3 thoughts on “How Keane gave us Brody and How Brody gave us Axe *UPDATED*”

  1. Ah yes… “Keane”. I remember waiting eagerly for the DVD since it was never shown in a theater near me. I purchased TWO copies of the DVD, being fearful something would happen to one, and maybe years later it would be unavailable. Of course, at that time Damian was not so well known, so perhaps my apprehension was warranted. In those early years (immediately after Band of Brothers in 2001) we fans were chomping at the bit for anything we could get of him, an interview, a photo in a newspaper, a tidbit of any kind. How things have changed, for the better of course!

    1. Hi Connie! It’s unfortunate that many people have never seen Keane. It’s an independent movie, was part of the festival circuit, and it’s brilliant with the 4K restoration. I love it that the newly restored version is available for streaming on AppleTV now. I try to encourage fans to see the movie who gave us Brody regularly!

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