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David Harewood: I considered quitting acting before Homeland role

Published 16/02/2016

David Harewood admitted that he considered
David Harewood admitted that he considered "giving it all up and getting a job as a lorry driver" before being cast in Homeland

Actor David Harewood has opened up about his battle with depression which nearly saw him give up on acting to become a lorry driver.

The Homeland star revealed that before he got the part on the hit US series, he was nearly penniless and spiralling into a deep depression caused by the death of his school friend, Luigi Belcuore, in 2009.

He told Radio Times: "Before Homeland, I had £80 in the bank and no idea what I was going to do. I seriously considered giving it all up and getting a job as a lorry driver."

Belcuore's death "completely knocked me for six. He was always the one who believed I was going to make it," he said.

In a state of despondency, Harewood initially rejected the Homeland script without even reading it, eventually filming a lacklustre audition on his iPhone at the insistence of his manager.

"I never even did an American accent," he admitted.

But his straightforwardness worked, evidently, and he has gone on to roles in US show Supergirl and in Sacha Baron Cohen's new movie Grimsby.

The 50-year-old from Small Heath, Birmingham, has now made David Harewood's F Word for Sky Arts, a frank look at the rejection that is part and parcel of an actor's life, and sees Olivia Coleman admit to not being in work for six months after Broadchurch and Damian Lewis discuss his disastrous movie Dreamcatcher.

Harewood has also been vocal on issues of race in the entertainment industry, speaking out when the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag emerged.

In a now-deleted tweet, he called on actors to turn up at the Oscars in "blackface" as "a sign of solidarity" and said he welcomed the protests over the lack of diversity in the Academy Award nominations.

"In England, you feel like a member of the revolutionary guard the minute you even mention race. But I do think that the #OscarsSoWhite phenomenon will have to reflect back on England.

"What people are essentially saying is that they want to see more diverse stories. It's not about putting three black people in the back of the shot. It's about making it normal to see a black actor in a leading role," he said.

He added: "It still amazes me that Idris Elba is the only black actor in a lead role on British TV."

Read the full interview in this week's Radio Times, on sale Tuesday.

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