Life's Damian Lewis Shakes Things Up
"Little fazes Charlie Crews," says Damian Lewis of the Zen-stabilized, wrongly jailed homicide detective he plays on NBC's Life. Oh yeah? How about an earthquake?
We'll find out Friday, Oct. 24 (10 pm/ET) when Crews & Co. deal with a crime wave in the aftermath of said tremor in "Did You Feel That?", an episode that includes a combination jailbreak and armored-car heist by a familiar bad guy. On July 29, life imitated Life, as there was an actual earthquake in Los Angeles. Lewis told TVGuide.com his quake story, and then detailed some other shocking things that will shake out this season.
Lewis was on set between takes during the July quake. "I thought that the facilities boys had attached a truck to my trailer to move it without knowing I was in it," he recalls. "It was moving back and forth, so I stuck my head out the door, and nobody was there. Then some guy came running up to my door and said, 'Did you feel that?'" — hence the title of the episode.
Lewis' TV alter ego — and his partner, Dani Reese (Sarah Shahi) — are nonplussed by the tremors. Crews in particular is cool as a cucumber. "He delights in every new experience. He has already experienced so much terror in his life that everything fascinates him in a childlike way," Lewis says. "He's in a position to be free of the normal everyday neuroses the rest of us have," unlike, say, Donal Logue's Captain Tidwell, whose reaction to the earthquake is decidedly more dramatic.
Yes, Crews is downright mellow, which is odd considering his history. He was wrongly convicted of murdering his former partner and his family and sentenced to life in prison. After 12 years inside, he was freed and awarded a large ($40-50 million) settlement for his trouble. Also, while he was in prison, his wife left him and remarried. "You can't be sent away to prison for life and feel OK about it," says Lewis. This season, he says, Charlie's Zen-like calm will be challenged in several ways. As he realizes that he has yet to find the man who set him up, a larger conspiracy will take shape. He'll deal with the on-again, off-again relationship he has with his ex-wife. And… he'll become a surrogate dad.
Consulting the "conspiracy board," we already know that there were six people involved in Charlie's series of unfortunate events. At the TV previews this summer, producer Rand Ravich made it clear that Kyle Hollis might have pulled the trigger in the Seybolt murders, but that there are larger forces at work.
Finding out that Jack Reese, Dani's father, is one of the six was certainly upsetting, but Lewis says to reserve judgment for now. Not only does Jack seem to have Rachel Seybolt's best interests at heart, but "he may have been a more protecting figure than we thought." Lewis says Charlie's search to uncover the conspiracy will take him away from the insular world of the LAPD, and into the corridors of power. "He'll be attending a lot of benefit dinners and charity galas," he hints.
"They're trying to do the right thing," Lewis says of Charlie's stop-start flirtation with his ex-wife, Jennifer. "At the moment, they're very much in love. They want to be with each other, while trying to be respectful of the fact that’s she's married." Like when he asked Jennifer's current husband, Mark, if he could sleep with her before he went ahead of did it — very respectful. This season will attempt to resolve that dilemma once and for all. "They either need to accept that they're never going to be with each other and develop some kind of closure, or they'll always be in love with each other," says Lewis.
Now that Rachel has moved in with Charlie and Ted, "it's rather like a gay family," cracks Lewis. "Rachel has two dads." Complicating things are Rachel's close, familial relationships that she had with both Hollis and Jack Reese. "She grew up thinking that Charlie was the guy who killed her family. She's as damaged as he is; they're like two pieces of driftwood," Lewis says. Domestic bliss will not come easily. "You'll see her at times behave like a bulls--- teenager," says Lewis, revealing that they'll fight about the amount of time Charlie's job takes him away from home.
"It's important to remember that Charlie is a little cracked," Lewis emphasizes. "His eccentric tendencies are a result of his experiences. He wasn't like that before."
Charlie's skewed look at reality will be reflected in the look of the show as well. "This season goes even more into a comic book or graphic novel kind of [direction] – the way the bad guys aren't just bad guys, they're villains; the girls aren't just girls, they're like molls, dames." In a TV season packed with traditional, gritty cop dramas, Lewis says, Life allows viewers to "live in that fantasy world a bit more."