Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Damian Lewis honoured at Palace

Homeland star Damian Lewis has spoken of his amazement at being awarded an OBE by the Duke of Cambridge, describing the honour as a huge surprise.

Lewis is one of Britain's biggest acting exports and has become an international celebrity on the back of two roles - both playing US servicemen.

His performance as Major Richard Winters in the 2001 Second World War epic Band Of Brothers made his name and more recently Homeland, in which he played returning prisoner of war Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody, confirmed his star status.

Speaking after the Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony, Lewis said about being nominated for the OBE: "I was stupified, I had no idea, so it was a big big surprise." The actor, who was joined at the Palace by his actress wife Helen McCrory, added: "I remember when I heard I was being awarded it, it was a little bit like 'now you've got to prove it'," he added laughing "it was a bit like being asked to be a prefect, now I have to be extremely responsible."

William revealed he and Kate are avid watchers of Homeland the popular drama about Lewis' character, a US marine rescued after being held captive in Iraq, and CIA officer Carrie Mathison, played by Claire Danes, who believes he has been turned by al Qaida.

Speaking about his brief chat with the Duke the actor said: "He said 'Catherine and I are huge Homeland fans'.

"He said 'you appeared again the other night briefly, and we all got very excited,' which is true but it was also on Sunday night which means he is absolutely up to date with the latest episode and I'm amazed they have time for that."

The US drama has won five Golden Globe awards since it first aired in 2011 and describing its appeal Lewis said: "I think people watch Homeland for different reasons. There's a compelling thriller at the centre of it, but I think people also got very engaged in the relationship at the centre of it between the CIA officer and this turned soldier.

"And how damaged they both were made their relationship compelling, (they were) co-dependent and needy and un-trusting at times and romantic and explosive at other times.

"Set against a backdrop of a plot to blow up the United States it was heady stuff."

The Duke hosted the investiture and not the Prince of Wales, as had been previously announced. The event was always a long standing commitment in William's diary.

The Eton-educated actor studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and went on to appear in several Royal Shakespeare Company productions.

He appeared in the Bafta-winning TV series Warriors in 1999 ahead of being cast in Band of Brothers.

Lewis spoke about how, despite his success, he has not lost sight of what first drew him to acting: "You should never forget the reason you went to drama school in the first place was because you were in love with the idea of story telling, entertaining people and assuming the responsibility of a story teller.

"You're in a privileged position with opportunities to educate, to incite, to challenge, to provoke, just to make people laugh sometimes is just as important.

"All the stuff that happens on top of that is great but it's just a bonus."

Also recognised during the investiture ceremony was England's rugby league captain Kevin Sinfield who was awarded an MBE.

The sportsman is the most successful captain in Leeds Rhinos' history, leading them to six Grand Final victories in the last decade, three World Club Challenge triumphs and victory in the Challenge Cup this summer after six final defeats since 2000.

Sinfield said he dedicated the honour to his club: "I would like to accept it on behalf of the club really. So many people played a part in the success, over the last ten years in particular.

"For me to get recognised is very humbling but like I said I think it represents the club, all the players, our staff and the fans - it's been a great place to work and play for the last ten years."

Leeds Rhinos' victory over Castleford Tigers in the Challenge Cup final this summer laid to rest many disappointments for England's rugby league captain.

He said: "We've had a fair few shots at it and I've lost in five finals so there was certainly a little bit of baggage there, but to finally get over the line in August was incredible."

Sinfield said William, who is vice royal patron of the Welsh Rugby Union, wrote to the national team before their semi-final match against New Zealand in the rugby league world cup last year.

He said: "I knew he had a keen interest in the England rugby league team, he sent the team a letter before the semi-final and he knew about the Challenge Cup - he's not forgotten about us up in Leeds."

Scottish racing driver Dario Franchitti, who was forced to retire after suffering a number of injuries in a high-speed crash during a race in the US last year, was awarded an MBE.

The four-time IndyCar series winner stopped racing on medical advice after spending five days in hospital after suffering concussion, a fractured vertebrae and a broken ankle in the last-lap crash in the Houston grand prix, Texas.

Franchitti, originally from Bathgate, West Lothian, was married to Hollywood actress Ashley Judd for more than a decade until they announced their separation last year.

He said about the MBE: "It's a wonderful tribute, it's a wonderful thing to have happen, I'm very proud of the honour obviously and it's a wonderful full stop to my driving life, it's wonderful to be recognised."

The former driver said he was still involved in motor sport: "I'm still very busy with the Ganassi team I drove for, I commentate on races now and do various ambassador roles with companies, so I'm keeping pretty busy."

But he stressed his sport must nurture new talent: "We need to keep giving the young drivers the structure and the funding to continue to develop, it's very tough for young drivers coming up now."


From Belfast Telegraph