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People
Our Suffolk ‘Homeland’
Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory relish spending family time in the county, writes Kim Smith
Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory have become one of the acting world’s power couples almost by stealth, allowing their
work to speak for itself rather than courting publicity.
However, their altruism in trying to help NHS staff through the coronavirus pandemic meant they had to change tack and broadcast an appeal from the privacy of their lounge.
It had the inadvertent effect of confirming what some already knew, that the celebrated thespians love Suffolk so much that they bought a second home near Sudbury in 2018.
Despite the fact that Damian and Helen were spearheading a fundraising campaign to provide at least one hot meal per day for frontline medics too busy to go out and find food, it inevitably prompted twitterati twits to throw in their two penn’orth.
One opined: “The government has clearly asked people not to go off to their second homes.” It elicited the response: “They can live where they want. How about focusing on what they were trying to promote?” A third pointed out: “Maybe they were already at their second home”, while the debate ended on a lighter note: “If I had a Suffolk pad, I’d be there, too!”
During the live link to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Homeland and Wolf Hall star Damian, 49, revealed that the lockdown had provided a great opportunity to spend quality time with his wife and their two children, daughter Manon, 13, and son Gulliver, 12.
”Just doing things like playing Monopoly, planting a hedge, doing some cooking – the day goes by in a flash.” He also joked that he was finally able to see
what Helen, 51, looks like as the pair are often forced apart by their busy schedules.
Damian and Helen, who wed in 2007, first met when they played illicit lovers in the stage production Five Gold Rings at London’s Almeida Theatre in 2003. They share parenting duties at their main home in north London, making a concerted effort to dovetail their work commitments. That’s why they relish coming to Suffolk during school holidays as it means all four are together. According to Helen, the house had been on the market for some time when they found it: “We literally just gutted it, moved the furniture out and painted it white. The decorators were, like, ‘What kind of white?’ and we were like, ‘Just white’. I don’t care about things like paint charts. For some people a home is a reflection of who they are; to me it’s just where I am.”
Damian, born the son of a city insurance broker in 1971, went to Eton College and formed his own theatre company at the age of 16. He went on to study acting at the prestigious Guildhall
School of Music and Drama in 1990 and made his professional debut in Romeo and Juliet at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Before he was 30, he was renowned as one of the best classical actors of his generation.
His big break on film was being cast as real-life US Army officer and decorated Second World War veteran Major Richard ‘Dick’ Winters in 2001’s HBO/BBC TV series Band of Brothers, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination.
The role that made his name, though, and finally won him a coveted Golden Globe as well as an Emmy, was that of fictional US Marines sergeant Nicolas Brody in the Showtime series Homeland. Brody, of course, came to a shocking end in series three when he was hanged in Iran. Damian, however, found that fitting: “I wanted him to go out with a bang. I didn’t expect a hero’s finale because Brody wasn’t a hero – he was a damaged man. I just wanted it to resonate, to really register with the audience”.
His performance as Henry VIII in BBC/PBS miniseries Wolf Hall earned him his third Primetime Emmy nomination and fourth Golden Globe nod, and he is currently playing New York hedge-fund titan Bobby Axelrod in acclaimed Showtime drama Billions. On the big screen, he made a fleeting but impressive appearance as heart-throb actor Steve McQueen in last year’s Quentin Tarantino homage to the 1960s film and TV industry, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.
His latest movie is a feelgood Brit flick called Dream Horse, the unlikely but true story of a Welsh barmaid (Toni Collette) who trains a champion racehorse. Its UK release date is in September, having been ‘
   Their best known roles? Damian Lewis in Homeland and Helen McCrory in Peaky Blinders
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