I'm only partway through season 2 of Homeland, but I have conflicted feelings about Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody. On the one hand, I guess I'm supposed to feel that way, so I can't blame him for the fact that his character makes my skin crawl. On the other hand, I feel like a different actor could have made Brody a more compelling part of the storyline (so I'm not always rooting for the camera to leave him behind in favor of Saul, who is majestic and perfect in every way).
My point here is that I don't think Damian Lewis is in such a lofty position performance-wise that he has the right to be publicly slamming any legendary actors, much less Sir Ian McKellen. But since he went ahead and did just that -- using "fruity" as a pejorative, even -- I am greatly enjoying McKellen's response, which was exactly as classy and eloquent as you'd imagine it would be.
So back in October, Lewis did an interview with the Guardian in which he discussed his early days as a stage actor, and how he had started to worry about his career. Specifically, this horrifying notion:
The idea that I would be one of these slightly over-the-top, fruity actors who would have an illustrious career on stage, but wouldn't start getting any kind of film work until I was 50 and then start playing wizards.
This might have been a marginally less dickish thing to say if it wasn't so patently obvious who he was referring to. But if you're thinking 74-year-old Ian McKellen probably isn't crying into his prosthetic beard over this low-grade insult, you'd be right. Here's his response:
So he feels sorry for me, does he? Well I'm very happy, he needn't worry about me. To rebut it: I wouldn't like to have been one of those actors who hit stardom quite early on and expected it to continue and was stuck doing scripts that I didn't particularly like just to keep the income up. I've always wanted to get better as an actor. And I have got better. You've only got to see my early work to see that. To be allowed for the first time in your later career to play leading parts in extremely popular movies is not a situation to worry about. No one needs to feel sorry for me or Michael Gambon (who played Professor Dumbledore in the 'Harry Potter' movies) or anyone else who has fallen victim to success. (...) As for a fruity voice? Well, it may be a voice that is trained like an opera singer's voice: to fill a large space.
Fallen victim to success. WaPOW. Stuff that in your Brody-hole, Damian Lewis.
McKellen, who came out in 1988, went on to describe his sympathy for gay A-list celebrities who are encouraged to keep their sexuality under wraps:
They're warned by the people who surround them – agents and managers, who have a living to make and are worried that the actor will get pigeonholed. I don't think the audience gives a damn. You don't have to be straight to play Gandalf. Anyway, who says that Gandalf isn't gay?
I love it, and I hope Lewis is at least a little embarrassed about his comments now that McKellen's responded. Scratch that, I hope he's a lot embarrassed, because he sounded like a damn fool.
Are you a Homeland/Damian Lewis fan? Who came out on top in this little Brit-actor duel?
Image via Showtime