The Homeland actor talks about going to boarding school aged eight, why his family thought of duty is not always helpful and how his mother told him not to marry an actor
I grew up in London, one of four children . We were a very loud family , not a lot of listening, plenty of talking. My mum was a hearth mother, she adoration to gather us all around her Sunday lunches were a big thing. She was very good at recollecting on her feet parties used to say she should go into politics. My pa has always been very theatrical . He never ran in the theater hes ever wielded in assurance but in another life and another time, he could have done that. His love of the theater symbolized I was always going to shows and plays as I was growing up; and then I started behaving at school.
I went to boarding school from the age of eight first to prep school, then to Eton. One concept that kind of education schools you is parish living: theres little recede. Thats why people come out of it and talk about lifelong friendships forged in the furnace. The cut and thrust of a successful academy are very significantly bonding. I was always encouraged to be on units at athletic; I got a lot from that. Would I mail my son to Eton? I might.
My parents came to see me in a play at Eton when I was 16. And then, when I remarked I wanted to try for drama school, they knew there was enough ardour there for them to be courageous and back me. Both of them enunciated: Proceed for it. I recollect my mother saying: Id rather you went to drama school to do something you enjoy than go to university and get a second-rate grade in something you havent loved doing.
My background was somewhat conservative and I think theres a strong thought of duty in a background like that, and I dont be considered that always helpful. As “youre living” their own lives, what comes into sharp-worded focus is the choice between obedience and what is required to do for you. So I wouldnt want to impose a sense of duty on my children, but I believe a sense of standing is always important. Its about behaving honourably when stirring alternatives being careful over them, making a considered choice.
I say to my children [ Manon, 10, and Gulliver, nine] that sometimes in life there are tough minutes: you may find yourself on one side of the room and everyone else is on the other. It might be easy to foreman across to where they are: but if you believe that what youre saying is right, be intrepid, because thats the right thing to do.
My dad used to say : No one expects you to be best available at everything. All we expect is that you try the very best. Because if you dont try your best, “youre going to be” disappointed. That message gives you a sense of competition with yourself, it drives you on. I think its quite a ingenious happen to tell someone. My mum used to say to us : All I care about is that youre manner and astute. But my dad was more transactional, he used to say: You cooperate with us, and we will cooperate with you. I say that to my own children.
A large-scale sadness for me is that my children didnt get to experience my mother as a grandmother[ she died in a automobile crash in 2001 ]. She would have been amazing. She merely determined the beginning[ of my success] she came on the list of Band of Brothersand met Tom Hanks. She was aware I was being asked to do a preferably amazing position and that I was thoughts in a certain tendency. She was incredibly proud of me.
My mom used to say two things to me : Stir sure you get married before youre 35, and: Dont marry an actor. But she would have been over the moon with Helen[ McCrory, relevant actors] whom I converged when I was 36. Theres a sadness for me that these two strong madams never encountered there would have been a real hum between them.
Damian Lewis is supporting the Sohana Research Fund, sohanaresearchfund.org . He is appearing in The Goat, or Who is Sylvia ? at the Haymarket theatre, London until 3 June