'Hasn't it been so much fun?' - Damian Lewis on his Liverpool FC love

Interview'Hasn't it been so much fun?' - Damian Lewis on his Liverpool FC love

By Chris Shaw


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Damian Lewis could easily not have ended up as the staunch Liverpool fan he has been for the last half-century.

The actor, producer and musician, well known for leading roles in successful TV shows including Band of Brothers, Homeland and Billions, grew up in a more rugby-focused household and his father’s football affections were for Arsenal.

A grandmother based in Liverpool, meanwhile, supported the team playing on the other side of Stanley Park from Anfield.

But the young Lewis’ attention was rapt by the red shirts conquering all before them domestically and in Europe during his 1970s childhood.

And so an ongoing LFC love affair began.

“They had all my favourite players when I was seven years old,” Lewis tells Liverpoolfc.com. “My dad was a Gooner but was more into rugby and he took us to rugby, he never took us to the football.

“So, I was slightly free to do what I wanted.

“I’m half-Welsh, my grandmother grew up in Liverpool and she was an Everton fan, she was a Blue so I could have been a Blue, but thank God I’m not!

“[My first heroes were] Stevie Heighway, Jimmy Case, Kenny [Dalglish] obviously, that was the vintage. Lawro [Mark Lawrenson], [Alan] Hansen at the back, Thommo [Phil Thompson] at the back.

“Stevie Nicol came in. I’ll never forget his hat-trick against Newcastle back in the ’80s; I was just thinking, he’s just scored a hat-trick from right-back or left-back, whatever it was. They didn’t do that then.

“We were European champions [in] ’77, ’78. It was a good time. And then I had just a glorious childhood all through the ’80s.”

A Londoner by birth, Lewis’ earliest match-going experiences to see his team in the flesh came via the proxy of Stamford Bridge.

I had a lot of Chelsea fans as friends and they would take me along and I did that for a bit,” he recalls of his first game attendance during the 1980s.

“We used to routinely struggle a bit against Chelsea for some reason. I can’t remember the score, which is terrible of me, but that was the first time I went.

“And then I stopped going because I had to sit on my hands every time we scored, because I was always sitting with Chelsea fans, which I didn’t enjoy.”

A Golden Globe winner and multiple nominee, Lewis will be familiar to many for his breakout role as Richard D. Winters in Band of Brothers.

Or perhaps he’s more instantly recognisable to you as Homeland’s Nicholas Brody or, more recently, as ‘Axe’ – Bobby Axelrod – in hit show Billions.

Lewis’ successful acting career – which he undertook at the age of 16 – has seen him travel around the world in a professional capacity.

And the time differences when on location have led to some interesting experiences when it comes to following his beloved Reds.

He details: “When I was in LA, it was quite fun getting up on a Saturday or a Sunday at nine o’clock in the morning, eight o’clock in the morning for the four o’clock kick-off.

“Go to the Red Lion down in Santa Monica and start at eight o’clock in the morning with a drink and a full English [breakfast]. It’s quite a wake-up call!

“You roll out of there about midday, it’s quite fun. I used to do that a bit.”

Lewis’ Liverpool-supporting spell has been blessed with many of the club’s most unforgettable and iconic victories and matches.

From the dominance under Bob Paisley to the recent joys of Jürgen Klopp’s reign, the 53-year-old has an ample list of memories from which to choose a favourite.

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“The thing I most remember, and it’s sort of bittersweet, is the 4-0 against Barcelona [in 2019] because I was actually in the country,” he says.

“Often I’m out of the country for big games and I was actually in the country and I was only in Cardiff and I thought I was going to be able to get up to Liverpool from Cardiff.

“I couldn’t make it in time and I watched it in a hotel room in Cardiff thinking, ‘I’m so close, I’m just like two hours from Liverpool and I can’t believe that I can’t get there.’ I had a ticket and I couldn’t believe that I couldn’t get there.

“I sat in the hotel room watching it thinking, ‘This is unbelievable’, ordering more beers from room service! That game… [speechless]

“There are two European nights, that game and then the 2005 [Champions League] final. There’s a pub in Soho in London where the Liverpool fans, we all took it over, it became known as a Liverpool pub and we took over upstairs for every Champions League game.

“I remember being 3-0 down at half-time against [AC] Milan and we were all sitting there gloomily and I thought, ‘I’m off to get a kebab.’ I went off at half-time and I came back five minutes late from half-time and I think Stevie [Gerrard]’s first goal was on the 51st minute or 52nd minute.

“I remember getting back in, everyone sitting around feeling a bit glum still. I was feeling a bit better because I’d had a kebab, and then Stevie scored and it was like, ‘Oh, hello…’ Everyone perked up a bit and then the rest is history.

“What I remember about that game is we scored three goals too quickly and we just had to hang on and then Jerzy Dudek made that incredible double save off [Andriy] Shevchenko. We were shot by then. That was an amazing night.

“So, weirdly, I’ve given you two nights where I wasn’t actually in the ground, but they were incredible. And I’d have to say Madrid [in 2019], I was in Madrid, beating Tottenham.”

Lewis’ work focus is currently on musical ventures, and following the release of his debut album Mission Creep last year he is embarking on a second UK tour this month.

Credit: Joseph Lynn
Credit: Joseph Lynn

Eight dates await he and his band during March, beginning in East Sussex on Friday.

He’ll also, of course, be keeping a very close eye on the swansong occurring at Anfield in the weeks ahead, as Klopp’s brilliant tenure as Reds boss comes to a conclusion.

On his reaction to January’s announcement of Klopp’s decision to step down as Liverpool manager at the end of the season, Lewis says: “Well, I was totally shocked, like everybody.

“And then my first emotion was gratitude, it was just ‘thank you’. Thank you for an amazing nine years, thank you for making it so much fun again to be a Liverpool fan.

“He’s directly responsible for everyone feeling great about being a Liverpool fan, about really enjoying it. I think even the least-generous fans from other clubs would acknowledge that the Premier League has been fun with him in it, that he’s a real character, he’s a personality and he’s given a lot to the Premier League.”

Lewis finishes: “My abiding emotion with regards to Jürgen is just ‘thank you’. Thank you for an amazing time. Hasn’t it been fun? Hasn’t it just been so much fun?”

For tickets and further information on Lewis’ upcoming tour dates, go to https://www.damianlewismusic.com.

Listen to Lewis’ debut album Mission Creep at https://www.damianlewismusic.com/#music.



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