May 18 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Homeland star Damian Lewis was today given the Freedom of the City of London.
The Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actor, who lives with actress wife Helen McCrory in Tufnell Park, said the award was “one of the greatest honours I’ve ever received”.
Receiving the award at the City’s Guildhall, Lewis said: “It’s remarkable, I’m still surprised.
“I wasn’t quite sure if they’d got the right person so I’m very happy to be here. It’s a rare occasion.”
The London-born actor said he was told he would receive the award when he was sent a letter from the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Roger Gifford.
Lewis said: “The best analogy is really that it’s sort of like an honorary degree from a top university, it’s the City of London recognising your contribution to the city of London and your achievements in your chosen field.”
The actor, known for playing Soames Forsyte in ITV’s The Forsyte Saga and Major Richard D. Winters in the US mini-series Band Of Brothers, will also star as Lord Capulet in a production of Romeo And Juliet directed by Carlo Carlei.
He called Capulet “an unsung Shakespearean role” and said the character was the best part in the play.
“I was very happy to be asked to play him,” he said.
Despite filming many of his roles in the US, Lewis, who graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1993, said he felt strongly connected to London.
“I feel like a Londoner through and through actually. London is the greatest city in the world, I think.”
The Freedom of the City of London ceremony is believed to have begun in 1237 and originally allowed recipients in the Middle Ages to trade freely.
Today the Freedom is honorary and many of the traditional privileges, such as driving sheep over London Bridge, no longer exist.
Lewis said the lapsed tradition was a “shame”.
He said: “I’ve got a flock in my garden in Tufnell Park but I wasn’t allowed to bring them down.”
He also revealed historical family ties to the City.
“Four previous lord mayors were related to me - my great-great-grandfather, great-grandfather and a great-uncle, and my grandfather.
“They started out as girdlers. They’d probably be making Spanx now if they were around today,” he said.
Sir Michael Caine was awarded the Freedom of the City of London earlier this month.