The War on Terror: A Q&A With Homeland's Damian Lewis
TWoP: It might have been, but it worked.
Lewis: People like to be manipulated sometimes.
TWoP: Your character has been living so many different lives and that's all played out in just tiny facial expressions by you. How do keep track of which eyebrow raise is for which secret personality facet?
Lewis: [Laughs.] When I first started acting on camera, I wasn't very good at it. I found the camera an imposition. I didn't know how to relax in front of it. I got my first meaningful on-camera job after doing two years at the Royal Shakespeare Company, so I was used to standing on stage and shouting verse to 1200 people. It was something I had to learn, and I just started reading about it and [learned] you have to be so specific with your thoughts and the camera will pick up what you are thinking. Anything presentational will be too much and will seem false. Whereas in theater you have to have the thought and make it real, whilst presenting it because it has to travel. On camera it doesn't have to travel, the camera comes to you and you just have to be real and genuine. With a laser like specificity, when actors are good, it is because they've managed that and when they are less good it is because they haven't managed that.
It's just what I try and concentrate on, transformation can only happen with immersion in a world and a belief system that your character has. Otherwise you attitudinize. You are an actor with a series of attitudes and you can trot out those attitudes on every film that you do. The guys who are magnetic and the girls who are magnetic and compelling to watch, they are called film stars. We love their attitudes and we love watching them trot it out each time. I just don't really have the confidence to think that I have a set of attitudes that are compelling enough to trot out each time, and I just enjoy the process of immersion and transformation a bit more. I'm aware that I'm at the risk of sounding self-righteous, and make it sound like one is better than the other. I don't think that one is better than the other, I just think they are two different things. And working with people like Claire and Mandy, it is clear where their sensibility lies, and it just thrilling and energizing to be with people who take that approach.