Blue Blue Electric Blue: Bobby and Damian, Damian and Bobby

imageedit_12_7668989438Wonderful news Billions fans! Our new favorite Showtime go-to show has been renewed for a second season! Only two episodes in and it’s already a hit on every level. We’ve barely even scratched the surface of the show yet and here we are given the gift of expecting another full season of episodes. More filming in NYC, more sneak peaks and spoilers and random sightings of our favorite Englishman in New York. We never doubted it would happen, but, still, what incredibly good news for all the talent involved on this show! Bravo and congrats!

On the heels of that great news came some not so great news: Former pupils protest against Etonian actor’s planned appearance at London comprehensive. The alumni of a school in Damian’s neighborhood in London, despite him graciously accepting an invitation by the school, have deemed him too “elitist” by virtue of his Eton education, to help celebrate the school’s anniversary.

Like a lot of news headlines, all this may be much ado about nothing, and, knowing nothing about the happenings on the ground at Tufnell Park, I, nonetheless, feel compelled to speak up. We’ve seen Damian engaging in various community events before, from lighting Christmas trees to defending against predatory suburban sprawl by chain stores like Tesco. So why should this community event at a school in his home community be any different? Yes, perhaps the school could have worked harder to secure an actual alumnus to switch on the lights at their light show. As one of the protesters said, a 50 year anniversary is not a thing that just comes up out of the blue. But, on the other hand, why NOT have someone from the community do the honors?


Class, race, bias, and prejudice. Such sticky subjects that can’t possibly be done justice on the pages of a fan blog. No, we don’t know if Damian, posh born and Eton-educated, unconsciously shrinks away from the masses of commoners when they try to get too close. Does he turn his nose while sipping on his complimentary beverages in first class and try not to make eye contact as the schmucks march on towards the coach seats?  Does he unconsciously shrink away ever so slightly when a woman of color sidles up to him for a picture? (I guess I would know, as a woman of color who did just that) No, we don’t have answers to these questions. And maybe Damian doesn’t either?

One question to which we do unequivocally know the answer: Does Damian’s upbringing instill limits on his talent of getting inside the heads of the lower class characters he portrays? Hell to the NO. To the contrary, he’s shown time and again, that the work, the research, the questions he asks and the deep thinking he does to get inside the heads of his characters, as disparate as they may be from his own life experiences, only allows him to portray those characters more authentically than anyone else, no matter what class of origin, possibly ever could.

Has Damian done the work, made the effort, to cross the barriers?

Has he, as a well-born, Eton educated, member of the upper class ever looked at a Metallica T-shirt wearing commoner the way one of the Eads wives looked at Bobby encroaching on her space? Maybe he has, if ever so unconsciously.


Or, has he ever in his own life been in the position that Bobby finds himself in at the end of “Naming Rights”, walking into what may, on some level, feel like a lion’s den of the rich kids who paid his weekend pocket money? No, Damian most likely has never been in such a position himself. Is he portraying the latent anxiety, getting at the “sphincter-tightening” reality of such an experience effectively though? Why, yes. Yes, he is. Where it comes from, if he’s never himself experienced it, no one knows. But come, it does.

imageedit_4_4030331972That has to count for something doesn’t it? To get him out of the realm of the perpetually “elitist”, comfortably divorced from the struggles of the common man? Yes, Damian lives a comfortable life. But, through his art, he’s giving all of us, the comfortable and the not so comfortable, a window into an unbiased reality. And he works hard at making that happen.

We know that he’s taken on role after role of blue collar American (and Brit), done the research, developed the personas, to make those roles just as authentically rendered, if not more so, than if a natural born blue collar actor could. Well, so what, the cynics among us could say. Are there really no blue collar born actors who could have played Dick Winters and Nicholas Brody and Bobby Axelrod? Why did those parts have to be filled by a posh Brit? Asking these questions is tantamount to asking why real soldiers weren’t cast to play Winters and Brody and a real hedge fund king cast for Axe. Forgive the bias and rose-colored glasses, but I just think that Damian getting those roles shows a global step forward, a global crossing of boundaries, and a glorious triumph of imagination. And Damian getting these parts certainly shows a triumph of sheer talent.


Damian is taking the high road in the face of these protests. Maybe by taking the high road he’s only showing his poshness even more. Of course, say the naysayers, the posh can always take the higher road because that’s the road that’s been built for them. It’s a vicious circle. And the only thing that can break the circle, simplistic as it may be and improbably idealistic, is forgiveness. Foregiveness never enters the convoluted picture, cast in harsh black and white, unless we all consciously allow it in.

All the talk of blue collar and blue blood (wordplay thanks to Lauren Collins) got me thinking about this song, the refrain for which is the title to this blog. I was hoping to find a way to work Bowie into this thing. Thank you Damian!

David Bowie, Sound and Vision

4 thoughts on “Blue Blue Electric Blue: Bobby and Damian, Damian and Bobby”

  1. I LOVE this post! How you connect the dots between Damian and Bobby is simply wonderful. Oh yes there could be some blue collar background actors that could have been cast to play Bobby Axelrod in Billions but would they have been able to bring this character to life as good as Damian has? I am sure some would be able to do that, yeah, but I doubt anyone would do it better than Damian… Am I biased? Hell yeah I am, but it is blue collar Nicholas Brody in Homeland that made me fall in love with Damian’s acting without knowing a thing about his background whatsoever — he was incredibly convincing in the role. Damian’s the master of bringing to life people from lower backgrounds. I believe in education (obviously!) and drama school and all to educate people to be actors, but above all, I believe acting is a gift. And Damian HAS it. And as you say in your tweet, Eton or not, he knows all sides of the hill 🙂 Thank you!

  2. I love that, in past interviews, Damian has spoken about and acknowledged the privilege he has experienced in his life. He knows he is lucky, and we’ve seen him time and again use his platform to help out with charity causes, give back to and promote the arts, and has been very kind and cordial to his fans. I feel bad that he chose to help out, when asked, and now this campaign against him attending this event is pulling his name through the mud. The people behind the petition have said that their beef is with the school, and not him, but you can’t really go after the school without it impacting his name, as well. I hope that the event goes well, and a resolution is found that satisfies everyone.

    And on a brighter note-yay to season 2!! I wonder if approving the second season was also a move to make sure to keep their current viewers interested. I know I have friends that won’t even watch a new series until it is 2 or 3 seasons in, for fear of having their heart broken due to a cancellation. I hope it keeps people watching!

    1. Yep, agree on all counts. Heck, I didn’t start watching Homeland until S3 was spoiled for Jennifer Lawrence on the red carpet. Just felt compelled to see for myself what made her so giddy to see Brody and then destroyed when she hears what happens to him. And the rest, as they say, is history. 😀
      Now, even if Billions ends in heartbreak (which I doubt it will!), the ride is going to be so worth it!

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