Our guy, Damian Lewis, is no stranger to being a feature cover story. He’s graced many a magazine cover, both alone and with co-stars: past, present, and (hopefully) future.
The most recent magazine cover and story featuring “one in a billion” Damian is for the January/February issue of Cigar Aficionado.
Remember magazine stands? Remember being able to get any magazine you wanted at magazine stands? Not so much anymore. Magazine stands have gone the way of book stores. Speciality, rare, not easily found on one end and big impersonal chain stores on the other, neither of which will effortlessly always have what you need, even if you live in a big city.
In lieu of corner magazine stands, we now have magazines at the grocery store, to entice us while we’re waiting in line. Funny thing about those magazines? They always seem to feature the same faces over and over and over again. Sometimes the same face will be on multiple magazines. And you have to wonder whether this person, usually a celebrity, is really so much of IT, or are those magazines simply owned by one lazy conglomerate, covering all their audience bases with one face. An actress on the cover of Seventeen for the tween crowd, the same actress on the cover of Self or Prevention for the health-conscious crowd. Same face yet again on the cover of Glamour in a housewifey pose, on the cover of Vogue in a fashion-y pose, the cover of Maxim or GQ in a seductive pose, on the cover of Time or Newsweek in a “newsy” pose. As Stephen Colbert not-so-subtly quipped to Damian in a visit promoting Billions: we all work for the same billionaires. End rant.
What a quant thing magazines, unlike any other medium, still do: they sell us a lifestyle. Cigar Aficionado‘s target audience is the well-dressed, well-moneyed man about the town, living the sophisticated life. Its tagline says it all: “The good life magazine for men.” So who better to grace the cover than Damian Lewis, a man about the town, on both sides of the pond?
The write-up itself is a summary of a fantastic career, focusing on his American roles. The writer found Damian in NYC, around the time when they’d shot half of Billions, ie. where we are now as we watch the series. We hear some things we’ve heard before: the visit to the White House, “an almost out-of-body experience”, Homeland fandom insanity “The reaction was immediate – and stunning”, and the surprise call back for Band of Brothers. And we hear some great things his co-stars have had to say about him.
Claire Danes (Homeland): “We could afford to delve into the darkness and dishonesty in the land of make believe, because we were so open and direct with each other as actors. To have that communication and consideration with a partner — which translates into trust — is a beautiful and rare thing.”
Sarah Shahi (Life): “There’s a lot going on beneath the surface, and yet outwardly he’s got doing anything. He’s got a great stillness that’s very compelling.”
Paul Giamatti (Billions): “He’s super-intelligent, super-engaged, really fun to play with.”
Notably, Damian celebrates this time he’s spending in television. He says:
…the sophisticated, interesting stories are being told on TV…People realized they could write scripts that were more complicated, that you can tell over a 12-hour period…David Simon (creator of “The Wire”) referred to his form as novelized drama. Watching one of these long-form dramas does feel more like getting involved with a novel.”
Does it ever. Intricate character development, layers upon layers of interesting things to think about. As for the characters he’s chosen to play, Damian says:
These characters are fascinating because of their passion and desperation…If you show anybody trying to achieve a goal, then anything they do seems to be forgivable, if they’re caught up in an obsession.
Hm, so the state of being under the influence of an obsession leads to forgiveness of all sins, eh? Such a Freudian thing to say! I tend to think there’s more to the unassailable attractiveness of the characters Damian plays than the fact that they are obsessed by something. I’m reminded of a Wordsworth quote:
Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.
So, yes, these men that Damian embodies all seem to be driven by uniquely complicated passions. But, it is the state of tranquility and stillness Damian lends to those passions that spins the scripts in his hands into golden poetry.
Interestingly, this article in Cigar Aficionado, told of an interview with Damian in late October, and at the article’s end, I got the answer to the question I didn’t get to ask of Damian at New Yorker Festival in early October: What would you do if you weren’t an actor? Damian’s answer:
Teaching. History…And drama, of course.
And what of cigars? Damian says he learned to appreciate them on the set of Homeland, where “he had the chance to smoke cigars with the writers and producers on that show, as they would gather at the end of the day.” He was able to get Cuban cigars in London and after stockpiling a humidor full of them, he gifted the lot to Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa. Damian says:
With a glass of whiskey at the end of the evening, a cigar is just right.
Actor Richard Speight Jr., who played Sgt. Warren ‘Skip’ Muck in Band of Brothers, had a tweet-ful to say about Damian and this article too. 😀