MCM: Damian Lewis

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Damian Lewis is about as striking an actor as they come. Tall with gorgeous red hair and classic leading man looks, he’s been a staple in historical flicks since the mid-1990s. He was also married to one of our favorite actresses, Helen McCrory, until her death in April 2021. So, let’s take a look at some of his work!

 

Poirot: Hickory Dickery Dock (1995)

Damian Lewis plays Len Bateson, a med student residing at a student hostel where a relatively simple case turns into something far more complicated for Poirot.

 

Robinson Crusoe (1997)

Damian Lewis’ character doesn’t last particularly long in this film, but it’s his death that kicks off the plot and sends Crusoe on his big adventure.

 

Band of Brothers (2001)

Lewis plays Major Dick Winters, commander of Easy Company during the D-Day Invasion of World War II. My boyfriend swears this movie is basically the best thing ever filmed on the Second World War, but since I am generally blah about the entire WWII movie genre, I’ve resisted watching.

 

The Forsyte Saga (2002)

Everybody is in this miniseries, and the costumes are fabulous, but I found it so tedious I couldn’t make it through the whole thing.

 

Brides (2004)

Damian Lewis plays an American photographer who falls in love with a Greek mail order bride bound for Chicago. Complications ensue.

 

Colditz (2005)

A miniseries about various escape attempts from Colditz, a German prisoner of war camp during World War II.

 

Your Highness (2011)

I tried to watch this movie but I was too sober and couldn’t make it more than a quarter of the way through. The worst part of all is that some of the costumes aren’t even that bad.

 

Romeo and Juliet (2013)

The costumes look interesting enough, but does the world really need another Romeo and Juliet adaptation? Lewis plays Lord Capulet.

 

The Silent Storm (2014)

I’m not real clear on the plot of this film, only that Damian Lewis apparently plays an abusive husband at some point in the early-20th century, and ya know? I’m just not that interested in finding out more.

 

Queen of the Desert (2016)

This film had… issues… but the costumes were good. Lewis plays Lieutenant Colonel Charles Hotham Montagu “Richard” Doughty-Wylie, the love of Gertrude Bell’s (Nicole Kidman) life.

 

Wolf Hall (2015)

One of the best screen version of Henry VIII we’ve had since Richard Burton and Keith Mitchell. Who’d have thunk that the tall red headed guy would make a good Hal?

 

Bill (2015)

Lewis plays privateer (well, really a pirate in the employ of Queen Elizabeth I) Sir Richard Hawkins. His real-life-wife Helen McCrory also appeared in this film as QEI.

 

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

I keep threatening to do a post on this movie, and I should just get it over with. It’s one of the better Tarantino films in the last decade IMHO, and Lewis has a small part as Steve McQueen.

 

What’s your favorite historical role of his? Share it with us in the comments!

26 Responses

  1. Karen

    I understand your lack of interest in Band of Brothers, but I would still recommend you watch it. For me, it’s a terrific study of the characters and how they react to the extraordinary circumstances they’re in. Each episode loosely focuses on one person, while still moving the (true) story forward. Lewis’s character Dick Winters is/was such a brilliant leader and good person and I find it inspirational.

    Reply
    • Shirley

      Agreed 100%! I didn’t watch it for a long time because of all the hype, and it ended up being one of my favorite shows. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve rewatched it since then. It really moves beyond war movie cliches in a way I’ve not seen other movies/shows do and is so well acted and well crafted.

      Reply
    • MsNomi

      Band of Brothers is definitely a DO NOT MISS for everyone. It is a very well done rendition of Easy Company. A decade ago I attended the Dick Winters memorial service in Hershey, PA and saw some of the surviving members of the company. A truly moving moment in my life.

      Reply
  2. throckmortonk

    He was absolutely great as Henry VIII, showing both the moodiness and petulance that made dangerous, but also the intense charisma and likeability.

    Reply
  3. Susan Pola Staples

    Dick Winters in Band of Brothers and Henry VIII are my favourites in his repertoire. Dick Winters, was an amazing officer, he missed receiving the Medal of Honour bc of his humbleness in describing his role on D-DAY and Carretan. His Henry the Manchild in Wolf Hall was well nuanced and the best in 50 years.

    Reply
  4. Gail

    He was absolutely chilling as Soames in Forsythe. You’ll hate him and later sympathize with his character. The second part, (next generation) however, was much weaker.

    Reply
    • MsNomi

      I have watched The Forsythe Saga over and over on my DVD set, and it is definitely for Damian’s outstanding performance. I cried at the ending as he walked down the drive at Robin Hill.

      Reply
    • GinaP

      I could never understand why everyone was in love with Irene. Because of it, I had trouble sitting thru it. But loved the house she and Rupert Graves character had.

      Reply
      • Fran in NYC

        Many people feel that role was miscast. Gina McKee is a good actress but mot for Irene.

        Reply
        • Melanie

          Agreed. Gina McKee played the role well, but she doesn’t have the right look for Irene. There’s a reason Soames manipulates her into becoming part of his “property” when she resists marrying him. She’s supposed to be extraordinarily beautiful. She’s supposed to be soft and delicate and, if I remember correctly from the book, blonde. Gina McKee is pretty, but not the warmest presence.

          Reply
        • RainyDayJen

          I tried to watch The Forsythe Saga years ago, and gave up out of profound irritation at Gina McKee. I think she’s a fine actress, but she seemed completely wrong for the role–and it didn’t help that none of her (fabulous) costumes seem to fit her properly. I kept wondering if they’d originally cast someone else and she was the replacement.

          Reply
  5. M.E. Lawrence

    Dunno about Lewis as H8, even given his acting skills (especially his highs and lows concerning Anne). He’s just too lanky; I kept hoping he’d yell at Cromwell, “The ball, Crum, the ball!” and then go streaking down the bowling green for a slam dunk.

    Reply
      • VKestrel

        Very true, Henry VIII was considered to be the cat’s meow by his contemporaries when he was a young monarch. He was tall, robust without being overweight (like he was in later years), and athletic.

        Reply
      • M.E. Lawrence

        It’s not the weight thing. As a younger man, Henry was built like an American footballer, not Bill Walton. Ambassadors implied that he was almost girlishly pretty, and he was probably still very attractive and athletic about the time he met Anne. But at least D.L. can act, unlike some modern Henrys one could mention. Can’t wait for the final installments of “Wolf Hall.”

        Reply
  6. Rhonda Stannard

    The Forsyte Saga does have some tedious moments in the middle but the end is so satisfying that I recommend you watch, at least, the last episode. It actually brought a tear to my eye and he is so good in it.

    Reply
    • Clio

      I’ve only seen a scene with Lewis in Wolf Hall but he encapsulated Hillary Mantel’s description of him so well, as someone who was rewarded for his good looks, good birth and good manners from his earliest memories and thus finds himself incapable of making a mistake. Looking forward to seeing some other flicks on this list.

      I’ve been devouring FrockFlick’s WH content now, 5 or 500 years late, since reading the books. From the podcast to the character profiles to the great wrinkle debate, each piece has been a pleasure to read. Thank you for creating them! To answer the now ancient question about the “blood on the floor” scene, in the book Cromwell does mention the idea as he sifts through secondhand stories about the event. He then declares that tidbit quite dramatic but quite unlikely. Alas that the director didn’t follow suit.

      Reply
  7. Lynne Connolly

    I really enjoyed his Henry VIII. He got to the meat of the early Henry, charismatic, intelligent, autocratic, but you could understand why women fell for him at this time in his life.

    Reply
    • Mary

      Literally have never seen better acting than him in Band of Brothers. I detest war stories yet I’ve watched it about ten times in a decade just for him.

      Reply
  8. Al Don

    Excellent actor. His American accents managed to fool a lot of people, including yours truly at first.

    Reply
  9. June Fynn

    Just a wee note, Henry VIII was played wonderfully by Keith Michell not Mitchell (typo/autocorrect?) in the TV mini series in 1972,
    I remember this series well as my parents bought their first colour TV to watch it ha ha.

    Reply
  10. Sarah

    I haven’t watched any of these historical pieces, but I really liked DL in Life, the contemporary tv series.

    Reply
  11. Sam Marchiony

    Okay, but Your Highness is some PRIME What-The-Frockery— contractually obligated Leather Pants, mismatching eras of gown and court dress, metal grommets, corsets without smocks, ridiculous hair that definitely was a victim of the Great Bobby Pin shortage… you could easily win Snark Week Bingo on it.

    It is also, sadly, the only other one of Damian Lewis’s projects I’ve seen aside from Wolf Hall. And I watched it mainly for my eternal WCW, Natalie Portman.

    Reply
  12. Charity

    He is magnificent in Band of Brothers. That’s where I first took notice of him. I have a hard time watching The Forsyte Saga because I despise every single character. They’re all either abusive or self-absorbed and willing to let their own selfishness destroy other people.

    He is the best Henry VIII, hands down. For once, an actor actually physically fits the role.

    Reply
  13. Joni

    Band of Brothers is PHENOMENAL and made me love Damian Lewis forever. You could honestly just watch the second episode, which covers the D Day landing and I think can function as a standalone – PLUS bonus Baby Andrew Scott!!!

    Reply

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