Cover Man: Damian Lewis in Cigar Aficionado

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.

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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?

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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. 😀

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21 thoughts on “Cover Man: Damian Lewis in Cigar Aficionado”

  1. This post takes me back to a lovely evening in NY last October: Remember what Damian said the moment he met you: “You could not ask your question, what is it?” GOTTA LOVE this guy!

    Teaching requires a bit of smarts but every smart person is not a good teacher. Damian is very structured when he talks about a topic, any topic, and he is very articulate. He would make a fantastic teacher! I know he taught at his alma mater in the break between Homeland S3 and Wolf Hall… those lucky drama students! 🙂

    1. The fact he remembered seeing me standing there, not having looked at me directly at all, as far as I remember…makes the knees go weak. Of course, he would have done the same thing with anyone, remember them, especially anyone wearing an impossible to un-see red dress. That’s the kind of person he is. Gracious to the nines.

      He would make a fantastic teacher! Don’t even get me started thinking about being a student in that class. Any other class on my schedule wouldn’t stand a chance.

      1. That was a nice dress, my lady in red!

        I always got A+ in courses with teachers that I found attractive in HS/College. I think that was my way of impressing them. With my brain.
        I would get an A++++++ from Prof. Lewis 😀

        1. Oh my god, you two are killing me! Professor Lewis does have a pretty nice ring to it, though.

          Thank god none of my teachers were gingers…I would have been so distracted!!!

  2. Great write up. I loved the photos from this shoot. Each computer I use at work has a different desktop image of him, and I have one of these as one of them 🙂

    Fun to hear what his fellow actors have to say about him, both professionally and personally. I have found that actors who gravitate toward these intense characters(and excel and playing them!) seem to have this really opposite personality. Like, they enjoy stretching and playing someone so far removed from who they are-they really enjoy the “acting” part, being someone you are not. Its kind of its own study in humanity, to crawl into someone’s skin and play them, its probably a really great way to understand and comprehend people. We know how much research and thought he pours into these characters, its a bit like its own sociology and psychology studies.

    1. Absolutely! I think Damian may have a similar philosophy about his work to Alan Rickman: “I do take my work seriously and the way to do that is not to take yourself too seriously”. Oh, to be able to live and vent all the angst and strum und drang at work and leave it there, allowing a home life of normal and sweet, filled with delightful goofiness. And in the process, give to the world the GIFT of a window into humanity. All of us should have such a job!!!

      1. Acting certainly is an amazing gift to give to the world. Its entertaining and informative/educational! After watching Wolf Hall I actually become interested in the Tudors and started watching documentaries and doing some reading about them. I was never an excellent student, while in school, and didn’t climb up the academic ladder to taking a lot of advanced history, etc. So as an adult, I find myself now catching up and learning so much. Education is so lost on young people! I think you’ve gotta get older to really really how much there is to know. And I am so glad that the entertainment industry and media is here to make it fun and interesting. And the actors who populate these things-cheers to you and what you do!

  3. This is wonderful! I am right there with you about the magazines going the same way as books. Claire Danes just loves Damian, doesn’t she? I still giggle when I see the video from the Emmys where he is calling her “Danesy” It is so nice that his co-workers have such lovely words to say. I really enjoyed reading this.

    1. I believe her when she says she mourned losing Damian on set just as much as we mourned losing Brody on our screens.

      1. Me, too! I am sure they had a lot of fun on set. It’s one thing to love your job and having great colleagues is just a HUGE bonus and makes a big difference.

  4. And have you noticed how many costars get pregnant after working with Damian? He has a broody effect on women. Two costars on “Life” on NBC got pregnant. Claire Danes got pregnant. Morena Baccarin had her first baby. Helen said she never felt broody until she met Damian. Not sure if there are others. He casts a spell or something. They all get broody.

        1. Hahaha Brody makes you Broody! This is hilarious and no, I had not noticed that earlier. Now that I am thinking… I am someone that has never wanted kids. I still don’t. But I wanted to do a blog after I met Brody. Does that count? 🙂

    1. Sarah Shahi played Damian’s police partner on “Life” on NBC. She was pregnant in real life the second season and they had to shorten her hours and change the story and bring in another actress. I thought Gabrielle Union also got pregnant (she was the actress helping fill in) but maybe she got pregnant a few years later. But still!

      Claire Danes played Damian’s nemesis/lover on “Homeland” and SHE was pregnant the second season and they wrote it in as Brody’s baby.

      Morena Baccarin was pregnant going into the third season of “Homeland” and she played Damian’s wife.

      Are you starting to notice a pattern? Baby watch on “Billions”.

  5. I don’t know where to post this so I’ll post it here. I just found out what Currahee means. It was the cry of the paratroopers in “Band of Brothers”, the HBO series that Damian starred in as Major Winters.

    I just assumed it was a Scottish word for courage. I must have missed any explanation on the series and didn’t look it up.

    But it comes from a Cherokee Indian word “gurahiyi’ which means “stand alone, together”. They trained at Camp Toccoa in Georgia during WWII and a prominent local landmark was Currahee Mountain. The mountain is the last in the Blue Ridge Mountain range so that is why the Indians called it “gurahiyi”. So the paratroopers called themselves “Currahees”.

    And they would say “currahee” as a kind of encouragement to each other.

    My father was in the airforce in WWII and was a navigator in bombers over Germany. He couldn’t be a pilot because he was near-sighted. But he got into glider flying at some point while we were growing up. He flew tow planes that took gliders up and also flew the glider planes and taught students. They have no engines and very long wings and they glide on the thermals and updrafts of the wind. It’s like being a bird and kind of quiet. They fly close to the mountains near the landing field. To land they just keep lowering till they slide on the field but it’s kind of scary as a passenger. He was extremely skilled and careful. He was a sort of Renaissance man – an extremely talented artist and sculptor and outdoorsman. But rather shy.

    Pilots are a tribe and they have all sorts of customs and rituals in their culture. I wish I had been more a part of his world at the gliderport and flown more with him. I was off making my way in the world and didn’t appreciate it that much. The pilots had a ritual I don’t exactly remember but I think when they made their first solo flight they would rip a t-shirt and write something on it and hang it on the wall in the office of the gliderport.

    He is 94 and has dementia but remembers the past sometimes very well. I will ask him if he and his comrades in WWII had any sayings like “currahee”.

    I have heard my family has some Cherokee blood because we are from East Tennessee and Georgia and I was looking it up online and the Cherokee language is extremely difficult to learn. Few speak it anymore but they are trying to teach young generations.

    So, currahee, Fan Fun tribe!!!


    1. Wow. What a story your dad has. A life very well-lived it seems. We all don’t bother with our parents as we are growing up and when we decide we need to hang more it is a bit late. It’s universal. Yeah I also wondered about “Currahhe” when I first heard it in BoB and looked up 🙂

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