Damian Lewis

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Damian Lewis
Lewis in 2015
Damian Watcyn Lewis

(1971-02-11) 11 February 1971 (age 53)
EducationGuildhall School of Music and Drama (BA)
  • Actor
  • musician
  • presenter
  • producer
Years active1993–present
(m. 2007; died 2021)
Musical career
  • Guitar
  • vocals

Damian Watcyn Lewis CBE (born 11 February 1971) is a British actor, musician and producer. He rose to prominence portraying U.S. Army Major Richard Winters in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. Lewis won a Primetime Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award for his portrayal of U.S. Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody in the Showtime series Homeland, and received nominations for both for his performance as Henry VIII of England in Wolf Hall. He portrayed Bobby Axelrod in the Showtime series Billions in six out of seven seasons, and appeared in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) as actor Steve McQueen.

Early life and education[edit]

Lewis was born on 11 February 1971 in St John's Wood, London, the eldest son of Charlotte Mary (née Bowater) and John Watcyn Lewis, a City insurance broker with Lloyd's.[3][4][5] His paternal grandparents were Welsh,[6] and he says he considers himself "London Welsh".[7] His maternal grandfather was Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Ian Bowater, Lord Mayor of London, and his maternal grandmother's ancestors include Bertrand, Viscount Dawson of Penn (a doctor to the Royal Family) and the eminent naval shipbuilder and philanthropist Sir Alfred Yarrow, 1st Baronet (see Yarrow Shipbuilders), who was of partial Sephardic Jewish descent.[8] Lewis has said that he "went to English boarding schools and grew up around people very much like [his character] Soames and in a milieu very much like the Forsytes'".[9]

As a child, Lewis made several visits to the US to visit relatives during summer breaks.[10][11] He first decided to become an actor at the age of 16.[5]

He was educated at the independent Ashdown House School in Forest Row, East Sussex, and at Eton College,[3] and graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1993.[12]


Lewis once worked as a telemarketer selling car alarms.[13] His first television appearance was as a medical student in "Hickory Dickory Dock", a feature-length episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, an ITV Studios TV production, broadcast in 1995.[14] He also appeared as a rakish student in an early episode of the drama series A Touch of Frost (1996). He appeared in Robinson Crusoe (1997) as Patrick Conner.

At this time he was also working as an actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company, playing among other roles Borgheim in Adrian Noble's production of Henrik Ibsen's Little Eyolf and Posthumus Leonatus in William Shakespeare's Cymbeline.[15] He would later go on to star in another of Ibsen's plays, as Karsten Bernick in Pillars of the Community at the National Theatre in November 2005.[16]

He also appeared in Jonathan Kent's production of Hamlet, playing Laertes. This production was seen by Steven Spielberg, who later cast Lewis as Richard Winters in Band of Brothers (2001), the first role of several that required him to have a credible American accent.[10]

He was in the 2000 series called Hearts and Bones as the love interest of Dervla Kirwan. Subsequently, Lewis portrayed Soames Forsyte in the ITV series The Forsyte Saga, which earned him positive reviews.[17] He returned to the US to star in Dreamcatcher, a Lawrence Kasdan film about a man who becomes possessed by an evil alien. The character is American but when possessed he takes on a British accent.[10] On the heels of this role, he starred in Keane as a Manhattanite with a fragile mental state who is searching for his missing daughter. Despite the film's poor box-office, Lewis's performance in the role was very well reviewed.[18][19][20]

He played Jeffrey Archer in the TV special Jeffrey Archer: The Truth. Since 2004, he has appeared in a number of films, as well as the 2005 BBC TV adaptation of the Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing, as part of the ShakespeaRe-Told season. Lewis played the role of Yassen Gregorovich in the film Stormbreaker. In 2006, he appeared in Stephen Poliakoff's BBC drama Friends and Crocodiles. He has appeared on BBC's Have I Got News for You as guest host several times; on 10 November 2006, 1 May 2009, 18 November 2010, 27 April 9 November 2012 and 31 October 2014.[citation needed]

In 2008, Lewis starred as the main character Charlie Crews in the American television series Life on NBC. The show premiered in the US on 26 September 2007 and was affected by the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike. Only half of the first season's shows were produced. Regardless, the show won a 2008 AFI Award for best television series.[21] Although the show received critical acclaim, when it returned the following television season, it was shuffled from night to night, and eventually cancelled by NBC to clear its time slot for The Jay Leno Show.[citation needed]

Lewis appeared the following year in the lead role in The Baker, a film directed by his brother, Gareth. Damian took a supporting role of Rizza in The Escapist, which he also helped produce. He led the cast in Martin Crimp's version of Molière's comedy, The Misanthrope, which opened in December 2009 at the Comedy Theatre, London.[22] Other cast members included Tara Fitzgerald, Keira Knightley and Dominic Rowan.[23]

Lewis played Tory Prime Minister Simon Laity in two seasons of Number 10 on BBC Radio 4.[24][25]

He played Gareth, the father of an 11-year-old Liverpool F.C. fan, in the 2011 film Will.[26]

From 2011 to 2013, Lewis had a starring role as Gunnery Sergeant Nicholas Brody in the Showtime series Homeland, for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award.[27] In 2013, he narrated poetry for The Love Book App, an "interactive anthology of love literature developed by Allie Byrne Esiri".[28]

In 2016 he began starring as billionaire hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod in the Showtime series Billions.[29] He left the show in 2021 after five seasons, but returned for half of season 7. In 2016 he appeared in the British spy film Our Kind of Traitor.


In an interview with The Guardian in October 2022, Lewis said that he had long-standing ambitions to be a musician, and had been collaborating with jazz artist Giacomo Smith, firstly on cover songs and then writing new material for an album that would be released in 2023: "I started writing and found out there was lots that I actually did want to write, and before we knew it we had a record’s worth of songs. We’ve ended up with a rootsy, jazzy, rock’n’rolly, singer-songwritery-type album."[30]

Lewis released his debut single, "Down On the Bowery", on 13 April 2023.[31] His debut album, Mission Creep, was released in June that year on Decca Records.[32]

On 9 July 2023, he sang the national anthem at the British Grand Prix, accompanied by a saxophonist.

Other activities[edit]

In 2009 Lewis featured in Inspired By Music, a book commissioned by The Prince's Trust, written and photographed by celebrity photographer Cambridge Jones,[33] and sponsored by Starbucks.[34][35] It features personal reflections by 36 celebrities as well as four ordinary people helped by The Prince's Trust,[36] about musical lyrics that inspired them.[34] Lewis's photo portrait also featured in Jones's exhibition Talking Pictures, featuring famous people of Welsh descent, that toured the world from 2010.[37]

In 2010, Lewis became a trade justice ambassador for the charity Christian Aid.[38] In May 2006 and June 2018, he played for England in Soccer Aid, and played golf for Europe in the All*Star Cup in August 2006, both shown on ITV.[citation needed]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lewis and his wife Helen McCrory supported Feed NHS, a fundraiser to give food from high street restaurants to NHS staff. By April 2020, they had raised £1m for the charity. The initiative started in London, but following its success, plans were announced to roll it out to other cities in the UK.[39]



Lewis was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to drama[40] and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2022 Birthday Honours for services to drama and charity.[41][42]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Lewis' portrayal of U.S. Army Major Richard Winters in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers earned him a Golden Globe nomination.[citation needed]

Lewis' performance as U.S. Marine Gunnery Sergeant Nicholas Brody in the Showtime series Homeland earned him a Primetime Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award in 2012.[43]

His performance as Henry VIII of England in Wolf Hall earned him his third Primetime Emmy nomination and fourth Golden Globe nomination.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Helen McCrory and Lewis at the 2013 British Academy Film Awards

Lewis suffered a period of depression following a motorcycle accident in North London in 1998.[44][45]

Having previously dated Katie Razzall, Kristin Davis and Sophia Myles,[46] Lewis married actress Helen McCrory on 4 July 2007. They have a daughter and a son.[47] McCrory died of cancer on 16 April 2021, aged 52.[48][30]

Lewis is a supporter of Liverpool F.C.[49]



Year Title Role Notes
1997 Robinson Crusoe Patrick
2003 Dreamcatcher Gary "Jonesy" Jones
2004 Keane William Keane
Brides Norman Harris Original Greek Title: Νύφες
2005 Chromophobia Marcus Aylesbury
An Unfinished Life Gary Winston
2006 The Situation Dan Murphy
Stormbreaker Yasha "Yassen" Gregorovich Released in the US as Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker
2007 The Baker Milo "The Baker" Shakespeare Also producer; also known as Assassin in Love
The Escapist Rizza
2011 Your Highness Boremont
Will Gareth
2012 The Sweeney Detective Chief Inspector Frank Haskins
2013 Romeo & Juliet Lord Capulet
2014 The Silent Storm Balor McNeil
2015 Queen of the Desert Lt. Colonel Charles Doughty-Wylie, VC
Bill Sir Richard Hawkins
2016 Our Kind of Traitor Hector
2019 Run This Town[50] Rob Ford
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Steve McQueen
2020 Dream Horse Howard Davies


Year Title Role Notes
1993 Micky Love Clive Television film
1995 Agatha Christie's Poirot Leonard Bateson Episode: "Hickory Dickory Dock"
1996 A Touch of Frost Adam Weston Episode: "Deep Waters"
1999 Warriors Lt. Neil Loughrey Television film
2000 Life Force Kurt Glemser 5 episodes
Hearts and Bones Mark Rose Main role (season 1)
2001 Band of Brothers Maj. Richard D. Winters Miniseries
2002 Jeffrey Archer: The Truth Jeffrey Archer Television film
2002–2003 The Forsyte Saga Soames Forsyte Main role
2003 The Forsyte Saga: To Let Soames Forsyte Television film
2005 Colditz Cpl / Lt. Nicholas McGrade 2 episodes
Friends and Crocodiles Paul Television film
Much Ado About Nothing Benedick Television film
2006–2020 Have I Got News for You Presenter 7 episodes
2007–2009 Life Charlie Crews Main role
2011 Stolen D.I. Anthony Carter Television film
2011–2014 Homeland Nicholas Brody Main role
2015 Wolf Hall Henry VIII of England Miniseries
2016–2023 Billions Bobby Axelrod Main role (seasons 1-5, 7)
2019 Spy Wars Host 8 episodes
2022 A Spy Among Friends[51] Nicholas Elliott Main role; also producer
TBA Wolf Hall: The Mirror and the Light Henry VIII of England Upcoming series


Year Title Role Theatre
1994 The School for Wives Horace Almeida Theatre
1995 Hamlet Laertes Belasco Theatre
1996 Little Eyolf[15] Borgheim Swan Theatre
1997 Cymbeline[15] Posthumus Leonatus Royal Shakespeare Theatre
1998 Much Ado About Nothing Don John Barbican Theatre
Into the Woods The Wolf
Cinderella's Prince
Donmar Warehouse
2003–2004 Five Gold Rings Daniel Almeida Theatre
2005 Pillars of the Community[16] Karsten Bernick National Theatre
2009 The Misanthrope Alceste Comedy Theatre
2015 American Buffalo Teach Wyndham's Theatre
2017 The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? Martin Gray Theatre Royal Haymarket



Title Album details
Mission Creep


Title Year Album
"Down On the Bowery"[31] 2023 Mission Creep
"Makin' Plans"
"She Comes"[1]

Other appearances[edit]

Title Year Credited artist(s) Album
"William I - Introduction by Damien Lewis" 2021 Damian Lewis Music of Kings and Queens
"Henry VIII - Introduction by Damien Lewis"
"Charles II - Introduction by Damien Lewis"
"George II - Introduction by Damien Lewis"
"George VI - Introduction by Damien Lewis"


  1. ^ a b c Peacock, Tim (10 June 2023). "Damian Lewis Shares Emotive Single 'She Comes'; Announces New UK Dates". UDiscover Music. Retrieved 19 June 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d "Musical Career". Damien-Lewis.com. 27 July 2022. Retrieved 19 June 2023.
  3. ^ a b Collins, Lauren (2016). "Blue Blood, Blue Collar: Damian Lewis's transformations," The New Yorker, 18 January 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  4. ^ Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage, 1990, ed. Charles Kidd, pg 759
  5. ^ a b Interview with The Sunday Express, 25 May 2003; accessed 22 December 2008.
  6. ^ Mottram, James. Damian Lewis interview with Marie Claire Archived 27 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine, 25 February 2008. accessed 14 January 2009.
  7. ^ "Homeland's Damian Lewis rooting for Wales in Six Nations". Independent.co.uk. 20 March 2013.
  8. ^ "Yarrow, Sir Alfred, First Baronet". 5 November 2012. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  9. ^ "An Interview with Damian Lewis". Public Broadcasting Service. 2002. Archived from the original on 15 February 2006. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  10. ^ a b c Iannotti, Lauren. "Esquire Style". Esquire, April 2003, 139 (4):120.
  11. ^ "Fighting Talk" Archived 7 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine. New Woman, November 1999. republished at Damian-Lewis.com. accessed 22 December 2008.
  12. ^ Wolf, Matt (1 January 1995). "FILM; Who Will Be The New Ralph Fiennes, The Next Hugh Grant?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 26 May 2015. Retrieved 22 April 2024.
  13. ^ Holmes, Linda (29 September 2012). "Damian Lewis On The Conflicts And Complexities Of 'Homeland'". NPR. Retrieved 22 April 2024.
  14. ^ "Poirot" Hickory Dickory Dock (TV Episode 1995) - IMDb, retrieved 16 January 2023
  15. ^ a b c "RSC Performances: Damian Lewis". Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Retrieved 6 August 2023.
  16. ^ a b "Pillars of the Community" (PDF). National Theatre Education Pack. National Theatre. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  17. ^ Kelleher, Terry (14 October 2002), "The Forsyte Saga". People. 58 (16):36
  18. ^ Rozen, Leah (19 September 2005), "Keane". People. 64 (12):40
  19. ^ Kauffmann, Stanley (19 September 2005), "Heights and Depths". New Republic. 233 (12):28–29
  20. ^ Travers, Peter (6 October 2005) "Keane". Rolling Stone. (984):164
  21. ^ "AFI Awards 2008". American Film Institute. 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  22. ^ Fisher, Philip (2009). "The Misanthrope". British Theatre Guide. Archived from the original on 20 January 2022. Retrieved 30 April 2024.
  23. ^ Benedict, David (18 December 2009). "The Misanthrope". Variety. Retrieved 30 April 2024.
  24. ^ Staff. "BBC Media Centre Programme Information – Afternoon Drama: Number 10". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  25. ^ "Number 10". Radiolistings.co.uk. 6 January 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  26. ^ "Why we chose LFC and Istanbul". 2 November 2011. Archived from the original on 18 February 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  27. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (21 December 2010). "Damian Lewis Cast As The Male Lead In Showtime's Pilot 'Homeland'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
  28. ^ "The Love Book App, poetry read by great actors". Archived from the original on 23 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  29. ^ "Damian Lewis Suits Up for New Showtime Drama Billions". People. 11 August 2015.
  30. ^ a b Hattenstone, Simon (29 October 2022). "Damian Lewis on grief, espionage and his new musical ambitions: 'When someone dies prematurely, you're left careering in a different direction'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  31. ^ a b Clarke, Naomi (13 April 2023). "Damian Lewis releases first single ahead of his debut album Mission Creep". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 22 April 2024.
  32. ^ ""Sod it, why can't I have a go at something else?": Hollywood star Damian Lewis on his debut album". www.musicweek.com. 14 June 2023. Retrieved 22 April 2024.
  33. ^ "Inspired by Music". Damian Lewis. 1 July 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  34. ^ a b Hartford, Maggie (16 July 2009). "Inspired by music". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  35. ^ Jones, Cambridge; Prince's Trust (2009). Inspired by Music. Shoehorn. ISBN 978-1-907149-01-6. Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  36. ^ Collins, Phil; Charles, Prince; Jones, Cambridge (26 November 2009). Inspired by Music. Retrieved 20 May 2023. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)
  37. ^ Blank, Matthew (22 September 2010). "Photo call: Jonathan Pryce, Michael Sheen, Eddie Izzard, Anthony Hopkins featured in Cambridge Jones photo exhibit in NYC". Playbill. Retrieved 19 May 2023. Cambridge Jones's "Talking Pictures" appears at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts through Nov. 27. The exhibit will launch in early 2011 at the Chateau Marmont before moving to The Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery March 3.
  38. ^ "Actor Signs up to Christian Aid Trade Campaign". 10 February 2006.
  39. ^ "Homeland and Peaky Blinders stars raise nearly £1m to feed NHS workers". BBC News. BBC. 10 April 2020. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  40. ^ "No. 60895". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 2014. p. b13.
  41. ^ "No. 63714". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 June 2022. p. B10.
  42. ^ "Queen's Jubilee birthday honours: Damian Lewis, Stella McCartney and Clare Balding on list". BBC News. 1 June 2022. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  43. ^ "Winners at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards". USA Today. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  44. ^ "Damian Lewis: my depression after motorbike crash". www.telegraph.co.uk. 5 January 2015. Archived from the original on 11 January 2022. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  45. ^ "Wolf Hall's Damian Lewis on the one thing he has in common with Henry VIII". The Independent. 15 January 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  46. ^ "Red hot: The irresistible rise of Damian Lewis". The Independent. 9 September 2006.
  47. ^ "The Mirror article". Mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  48. ^ "Peaky Blinders actress Helen McCrory dies aged 52". BBC News. 16 April 2021. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  49. ^ McCoid, Sophie (25 May 2018). "Damian Lewis posts cringeworthy video as he travels to Champions League Final". liverpoolecho. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  50. ^ Kit, Borys (10 April 2018). "Damian Lewis to Play Controversial Ex-Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in Drama". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 9 December 2021.
  51. ^ White, Peter (6 October 2021). "Damian Lewis & Guy Pearce Lead Cold War Limited Series 'A Spy Among Friends' For Spectrum Originals & BritBox UK". Deadline. Retrieved 1 March 2022.

External links[edit]