Damian Lewis on Homeland fame: ‘Being a star is much better than not being one’
Get an exclusive first-look at the Homeland star's covershoot and interview with Hunger magazine
Some actors seem desperate to convince us that their lives would be better were they known purely for their roles on screen, and not for the celebrity persona their chosen career paths have afforded them.
Damian Lewis, however, is under no such illusion.
“The first thing I’d say is that being a star is much better than not being one,” he says in the latest edition of Hunger magazine revealed exclusively to The Independent. “It does elevate your life in extraordinary and wonderful ways. For example, I was invited to have dinner at the White House and I chatted with President Obama.”
But you’d be mistaken if you thought the stardom he so readily enjoys comes before the serious thespian trundling off monologues deep within him.
“I'm proud of the fact that I think of myself as an actor's actor, before being a star, but I have become one and that really is down to luck. I'm not doing anything different than anyone else; it's just a question of landing the right project. I don't think I'm better in Homeland than in other things. It just became an enormous hit.”
But being an internationally recognised famous type hasn’t stopped the self-proclaimed star from doing average, man-about-town things in his home city of London. Like taking the Tube:
“I feel very proprietorial about London. It’s my town and always has been. I’m resolved to using public transport. I simply refuse not to use the Tube because I might get bothered by people. It's slightly mad to walk through the West End during peak tourist season – the Italians and Spanish can be quite persistent! I'm not going to lie, some days I don't deal with it very well because I’m in a hurry.”
Lewis – one of 20 British stars to grace the multi-cover special Mighty Blighty issue of Rankin’s fashion-meets-celebrity magazine, which celebrate the overwhelming impact creative artists are having abroad at the moment – also discussed his equally famous self-confidence, and where his unwavering inner-belief seems to have stemmed from.
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“I think it comes from my family, from my parents, from the certainty that one is loved,” he continues.
“It’s very important to give that to your children. I think it gives them a sincere confidence. A good experience of childhood sets you up for life. I went to boarding school, and if you have certain attributes you thrive in those places, and I think I had those attributes. So I succeeded at school, and it was a happy time for me.
“I was a natural schoolboy, if you like. I loved sport and theatre, doing school plays, but I didn't work very hard, and in time that came back and bit me in the arse – I loped through my A-levels so fruitlessly! Luckily I was bright enough to just wing it though. It was a lot to do with luck.”
Read Damian Lewis’ interview in full in the Mighty Blighty issue of Hunger magazine, out across the UK on 20 February 2014
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