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AP Interview: Star says Obama watches 'Homeland'

The Associated Press, Friday, February 10, 2012, 10:31am (PST)

LONDON (AP) -- Actor Damian Lewis has a warning for Barack Obama.

He says the U.S. president shouldn't watch the Showtime TV series "Homeland" too much "because he won't sleep at night."

The British star at the heart of the political thriller, which was named the Best TV Drama at the Golden Globes, says the leader of the free world is a big fan of the show that has generated white-hot buzz.

"Not only has Obama been watching it but his aides have been calling up going, 'We need to see it,'" Lewis said. "So he's been getting entire state departments, top of the U.S. government, asking to see it because their boss watches it and they feel they need to know what their boss has been watching."

And why should Obama be worried?

"(The show) spreads its criticism around of state governments and terrorists alike," Lewis explained.

Lewis, 40, along with British co-star David Harewood, 46, spoke to The Associated Press recently ahead of the U.K. launch of the series. Both are excited about getting reactions from home firsthand.

Lewis quips he can't wait to hear what fans think of it while he's out supermarket shopping, as he hasn't generated that level of interest in the U.K. for a while.

He plays returning American war hero Nick Brody, who was discovered in a cell in Iraq after being missing for eight years.

Claire Danes, who won best actress in a drama at the Globes, is the CIA agent who doesn't believe him. Harewood plays her boss.

In their London interview, Lewis and Harewood appeared relaxed, chatting away in their native English accents, something they ditch when on U.S. soil. They each try to stay in their American voices all day long in the United States because it's easier and helps them practice.

They can slip out of the American twang when talking together, however.

Lewis admits the first time he was cast as an American soldier in the 2001 "Band of Brothers" he stayed in character so as not to offend anyone.

"I didn't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable," he said. "If you just go tearing around like 'Rah, rah, rah, rah,' and they'd be, 'Bloody hell, why did we cast him? He sounds so English.'"

He said he wanted directors to "all just forget I'm English and just be happy that you've cast me."

As for the success of "Homeland," Lewis suggested that intelligent TV drama helps to fill the gap left by the death of the indie movie.

"Films are either now made for $500 grand or $500 million, you know, there seems to be little in-between," he noted. "TV has sort of filled that slot and actually you can make provocative, interesting, quirky, independent, movie-type TV."

Shooting on the second season of "Homeland" starts in May, and Harewood says he is already looking forward to getting into his character again.

Lewis admits there is pressure to deliver the goods.

"TV audiences are notoriously fickle. If they don't like it, they just tell you. Suddenly there are blogs everywhere saying 'That was a pile of crap,'" he said.

"It's an unenviable job," he added. "I'm glad I'm not writing it!"

"Homeland" starts showing Feb. 19 in the U.K. on Channel 4.

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