Damian Lewis at the Emmys in September at Nokia Theatre in L.A. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)
“Homeland” star Damian Lewis got a double dose of surprises on Wednesday, learning that not only had the Screen Actors Guild Award nominees been announced but also that he was among them.
“I didn’t know it was happening today,” Lewis said via telephone from his home in London. “It’s very exciting that it’s the SAG Awards.”
The news brightened an otherwise frigid day in the UK, where the British actor is taking a break after wrapping the second season of “Homeland,” whose finale airs this Sunday on Showtime.
At the moment, the fate of Nicholas Brody, the POW turned terrorist turned congressman turned CIA informant he plays on the series, hangs in the balance. While Lewis didn’t conclusively state whether he’d be back for Season 3, he did say that if Brody were killed off – hypothetically speaking, of course – he’d feel “very happy, very calm about it.”
“I can’t remember, obviously, because filming ‘Homeland’ gives me PTSD. So I can’t actually remember what happens at the end of Season 2,” he joked.
He did, however, have plenty to say about Brody’s journey over the course of Season 2, during which time he’s struggled to serve several different masters – his wife, his children, his country, his terrorist conspirators and, most of all, Carrie, the psychologically wounded CIA analyst played by Claire Danes.
“Even though Brody was damaged in the first season, he was empowered in some small way because he represented a menace, he posed a threat, so he had status,” Lewis said. “This season, once he was turned back by Carrie and the CIA and he seemed to acquiesce, then he was a pawn in a game much, much larger than himself, more complex even than himself.”
Lewis ultimately sees his character as a “victim of war.” “Taken to its logical conclusion, this is what we can do to our young men if we send them off to war. These things might happen to them and they’re really a shell of their former selves, and I think that’s what Brody is,” he said.
As for the future of Brody’s tortuous relationship with Carrie, Lewis sounded a pessimistic note: “They’re a crazy couple of damaged people. You think, well, if these two are going to go off into the sunset and live together, it’s like, how long do you give that? I’d like to see those two buying a house and getting a mortgage."
The Emmy-winning actor also defended the writing team on “Homeland,” who’ve drawn criticism for this season’s increasingly outlandish plot twists. "[The writers] made it very clear that story was more important than plausibility and that, as long as the characters were compelling and the story was convincing, that was more important to them. I think they’ve achieved that.”
Lewis, like nearly all his fellow drama nominees, plays a deeply flawed antihero on “Homeland,” a trend he attributes to geopolitics. “As America’s place in the world has been less certain over the last 10 years or so, we saw a kind of antihero creeping in. Flawed men and women with doubts and fears and neuroses, brilliant and maverick and intuitive at the same time."
Lewis professes to being a “huge fan” of the actors in his category. “These guys, no one had it easy. Everyone’s sitting pretty on top of the cake now, having a nice time, getting the plaudits, but they deserve it. They’re brilliant and they’ve worked hard to get there,” he said.
He even claims “Boardwalk Empire” star Steve Buscemi is “one of the few people my wife would leave me for.” (Bob Dylan is the other one.)