Damian Lewis Brings British Quirk to Jaguar Short 'Desire'

Damian Lewis
Damian Lewis
 Jaguar

The kind of TV affection that Damian Lewis has earned since Homeland premiered tends to come with a high-profile endorsement deal -- preferably for an automaker.

Many of the of Emmy and Golden Globe winner's contemporaries are partnered with some of the big ones. Dexter star Michael C. Hall narrates Dodge ads, Mad Men's Jon Hamm is the voice of Mercedes-Benz and co-star John Slattery can frequently be seen behind the wheel of a Lincoln.

PHOTOS: Portraits of Damian Lewis and Homeland's Emmy-Winning Cast and Creators

But Lewis strays from the pack in his elaborate production for Jaguar. He doesn't provide a voice over, and you won't see 30 second spots airing during ad breaks for SportsCenter. Lewis' Jaguar commercial is a 12-minute movie produced by Ridley Scott's advertising company.

Desire, being screened as a part Sundance London's 2013 programming, premieres in its official venue, YouTube, on Wednesday.

"It sort of fell into my lap," the London-born actor tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I've never done anything for the online market before, and I just thought it was cool to work with Ridley Scott and [director] Adam Smith. I thought the script had a kind of nod to the Americana that you find in the Coen brothers' movies."

In Desire, Lewis plays Clark, a man who encounters difficulties in his attempts to deliver a Jaguar F-TYPE to a rather shady man who's at odds with a mysterious young woman (Shannyn Sossamon). The lawless, Coen-esque desert depicted film required a five-day shoot in Chile for Lewis -- who says he had a somewhat lighter read of the character that some might be quick to brush off as a James Bond homage.

"I thought he had quirky voice and actually I might have pushed comedy a bit further because I found him as sort of a comedic character," says Lewis. "At times there's an oddly hapless quality to him, and I quite liked that. He wasn't just a stereotypical monosyllabic hero. I think I went a little bit to Cary Grant, David Niven and these famous British movie stars of the past. There's something very British about them which I tried to evoke."

That humor is another thing Lewis' says attracted him to the project. His next film credit is Lord Capulet in a new adaptation of definitive downer Romeo and Juliet, and as Lewis is quick to point out: "There's not a lot of comedy in Homeland."

Those more familiar with Lewis' biggest U.S. credits -- Homeland, NBC's Life, HBO's Band of Brothers -- also get the less common sound of the actor's natural accent throughout the short. Though what couldn't be further from London is Desire's South American locale.

"It's dry as hell," says Lewis, who's grown used to Homeland's humid North Carolina set. "Dust and sand and dirt get into your eyes, and your lips crack. As a redhead, I stood there occasionally thinking, "Wow, I really wasn't designed for the desert.' But it is an extraordinary landscape to shoot in."

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