Damian Lewis

Damian Watcyn Lewis OBE (born 11 February 1971) is an English actor, presenter, and producer. He played U.S. Army Major Richard Winters in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination, and also portrayed U.S. Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody in the Showtime series Homeland, which earned him a Primetime Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award.[1] His performance as Henry VIII of England in Wolf Hall earned him his third Primetime Emmy nomination and fourth Golden Globe nomination. He plays Bobby Axelrod in the Showtime series Billions and portrayed actor Steve McQueen in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019).

Damian Lewis

Lewis in 2017
Damian Watcyn Lewis

(1971-02-11) 11 February 1971
St John's Wood, London, England
Alma materGuildhall School of Music and Drama
  • Actor
  • presenter
  • producer
Helen McCrory
(m. 2007; died 2021)

Early life

Lewis was born 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.[2][3][4] His paternal grandparents were Welsh.[5] 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 (see Yarrow Shipbuilders) and philanthropist Sir Alfred Yarrow, 1st Baronet, who was of partial Sephardic Jewish descent.[6] He has stated 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'".[7]

As a child, Lewis made several visits to the US to visit relatives during summer breaks.[8][9] He first decided to become an actor at the age of 16.[4] He was educated at the independent Ashdown House School in Forest Row, East Sussex, and at Eton College. He graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1993, after which he served as a stage actor for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

During his time with the RSC, he played Borgheim in Adrian Noble's production of Henrik Ibsen's Little Eyolf and Posthumus in William Shakespeare's Cymbeline. He also starred in another of Ibsen's plays, as Karsten Bernick in Pillars of the Community at the National Theatre in November 2005.[10]


Lewis once worked as a telemarketer selling car alarms, a job he detested.[11] His first television appearance was as a rakish student in an early episode of the English drama series A Touch of Frost (1993). He appeared in Robinson Crusoe (1997) as Patrick Conner. He 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.[8]

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.[12] 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.[8] 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.[13][14][15]

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 Shakespeare's 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.

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.[16] 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 less expensive nightly programme, The Jay Leno Show.

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.[17] Other cast members included Tara Fitzgerald, Keira Knightley and Dominic Rowan.

Since 2010, Lewis has played Tory Prime Minister Simon Laity in two seasons of Number 10 on BBC Radio 4.[18][19]

He played Gareth, the father of an 11-year-old Liverpool F.C. fan, in the 2011 film Will.[20]

From 2011 to 2013, Lewis had a starring role as Gunnery Sergeant Nicholas Brody in the Showtime series Homeland.[21] In 2013, he narrated poetry for The Love Book App, an "interactive anthology of love literature developed by Allie Byrne Esiri".[22]

Since 2016, he has starred as billionaire Bobby Axelrod in the Showtime series Billions.[23]

Lewis was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to drama.[24]

Personal life

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.[25][26]

He married actress Helen McCrory on 4 July 2007. They have a daughter, Manon (born 2006) and a son, Gulliver (born 2007).[27] McCrory died of cancer on 16 April 2021, aged 52.[28]

Lewis and his family left the UK in 2007 to live in Los Angeles while he worked on the NBC-TV crime drama Life. After completion of that series' final episode in 2009, they returned to the UK to live in a Victorian townhouse in Tufnell Park, north London.[29] They also have a house near Sudbury in Suffolk.[30]

In 2010, Lewis became a trade justice ambassador for the charity Christian Aid.[31] 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.

Lewis is a supporter of Liverpool F.C.[32]

He previously dated Katie Razzall, Kristin Davis and Sophia Myles.[33]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lewis and 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.[34]



Year Title Role Notes
1997Robinson CrusoePatrick
2003DreamcatcherGary "Jonesy" Jones
2004KeaneWilliam Keane
BridesNorman HarrisOriginal Greek Title: Νύφες
2005ChromophobiaMarcus Aylesbury
An Unfinished LifeGary Winston
2006The SituationDan Murphy
StormbreakerYasha "Yassen" GregorovichReleased in the US as Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker
2008The BakerMilo "The Baker" ShakespeareAlso producer; also known as Assassin In Love
The EscapistRizza
2011Your HighnessBoremont
2012The SweeneyDetective Chief Inspector Frank Haskins
2013Romeo & JulietLord Capulet
2014The Silent StormBalor McNeil
2015Queen of the DesertLt. Colonel Charles Doughty-Wylie, VC
BillSir Richard Hawkins
2016Our Kind of TraitorHector
2019Run This Town[35]Rob Ford
Once Upon a Time in HollywoodSteve McQueen
2020Dream HorseHoward Davies


Year Title Role Notes
1993Micky LoveCliveTelevision movie
1995Agatha Christie's PoirotLeonard BatesonEpisode: "Hickory Dickory Dock"
1996A Touch of FrostAdam WestonEpisode: "Deep Waters"
1999WarriorsLt. Neil LoughreyTelevision movie
2000Life ForceKurt Glemser2 episodes
Hearts and BonesMark Rose8 episodes
2001Band of BrothersMaj. Richard D. WintersMiniseries
2002–2003The Forsyte SagaSoames Forsyte10 episodes
2002Jeffrey Archer: The TruthJeffrey ArcherTelevision movie
2003The Forsyte Saga: To LetSoames ForsyteTelevision movie
2005ColditzCpl / Lt. Nicholas McGrade2 episodes
Friends and CrocodilesPaulTelevision movie
Much Ado About NothingBenedickTelevision movie
2006–2020Have I Got News for YouPresenter7 episodes
2007–2009LifeCharlie Crews32 episodes
2011StolenD.I. Anthony CarterTelevision movie
2011–2014HomelandNicholas Brody38 episodes
2015Wolf HallHenry VIII of EnglandMiniseries
2016–PresentBillionsBobby Axelrod60 episodes
2020Spy WarsHostCurrent


Year Title Role Theatre
1994The School For WivesHoraceAlmeida Theatre
1995HamletLaertesBelasco Theatre
1998 Much Ado About Nothing Don John Barbican Theatre
2003–2004Five Gold RingsDanielAlmeida Theatre
2009The MisanthropeAlcesteComedy Theatre
2015American BuffaloTeachWyndham's Theatre
2017The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?Martin GrayTheatre Royal Haymarket


  1. "Winners at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards". USA Today. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  2. "Damian Lewis's Transformations".
  3. Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage, 1990, ed. Charles Kidd, pg 759
  4. Interview with The Sunday Express, 25 May 2003; accessed 22 December 2008.
  5. Mottram, James. Damian Lewis interview with Marie Claire, 25 February 2008. accessed 14 January 2009.
  6. "Yarrow, Sir Alfred, First Baronet". HighBeam Research. 5 November 2012. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2020.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  7. "An Interview with Damian Lewis". Public Broadcasting Service. 2002. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  8. Iannotti, Lauren. "Esquire Style". Esquire, April 2003, 139 (4):120.
  9. "Fighting Talk". New Woman, November 1999. republished at Damian-Lewis.com. accessed 22 December 2008.
  10. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. Prato, Alison. "Out on the Town with This Season's Breakout Stars", Maxim (October 2008); accessed 15 December 2008.
  12. Kelleher, Terry (14 October 2002), "The Forsyte Saga". People. 58 (16):36
  13. Rozen, Leah (19 September 2005), "Keane". People. 64 (12):40
  14. Kauffmann, Stanley (19 September 2005), "Heights and Depths". New Republic. 233 (12):28–29
  15. Travers, Peter (6 October 2005) "Keane". Rolling Stone. (984):164
  16. "AFI Awards 2008". American Film Institute. 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  17. "The Misanthrope's London production". Archived from the original on 11 January 2012.
  18. Staff. "BBC Media Centre Programme Information – Afternoon Drama: Number 10". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  19. "Number 10". Radiolistings.co.uk. 6 January 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  20. "Why we chose LFC and Istanbul". 2 November 2011. Archived from the original on 18 February 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  21. Andreeva, Nellie (21 December 2010). "Damian Lewis Cast As The Male Lead In Showtime's Pilot 'Homeland'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
  22. "The Love Book App, poetry read by great actors".
  23. "Damian Lewis Suits Up for New Showtime Drama Billions". People. 11 August 2015.
  24. "No. 60895". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 2014. p. b13.
  25. "Damian Lewis: my depression after motorbike crash". www.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  26. "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.
  27. "The Mirror article". Mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  28. "Peaky Blinders actress Helen McCrory dies aged 52". BBC News. 16 April 2021. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  29. Collins, Lauren (2016). "Blue Blood, Blue Collar: Damian Lewis's transformations," The New Yorker, 18 January 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  30. Jarvis, Gemma. "Actors Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory urges Suffolk to "dig deep" after launching FeedNHS". East Anglian Daily Times.
  31. "Actor Signs up to Christian Aid Trade Campaign".
  32. McCoid, Sophie (25 May 2018). "Damian Lewis posts cringeworthy video as he travels to Champions League Final". liverpoolecho. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  33. "Red hot: The irresistible rise of Damian Lewis". The Independent. 9 September 2006.
  34. "Homeland and Peaky Blinders stars raise nearly £1m to feed NHS workers". BBC News. BBC. 10 April 2020. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  35. "Damian Lewis to Play Controversial Ex-Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in Drama".
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