Damian Lewis: I’m a minority in the acting business
Damian Lewis doesn’t accept there is a class issue within the acting industry in England.
There has been much criticism in the past 12 months that too many stars of the stage and screen are white, middle-class and privately educated, however, ‘Homeland’ star Lewis – who was a student at English all-boys boarding school Eton College, whose previous students include Prince William and Prince Harry – insists that’s not the case.
In fact, Lewis insists that his background makes him as much of a "minority" as anyone else in the business.
In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, he said: "A handful of actors from privileged backgrounds have done very well and of course that’s high-profile news. But wherever I work, as an actor educated at Eton, I’m still always in a minority. What is true and always rewarding about the acting profession is that everyone has a similar story about being in a minority, from whatever background."
According to research by the Sutton Trust more than 42 per cent of all British BAFTA winners went to private schools compared to just 25 per cent who went to comprehensive schools.
‘X Men’ star James McAvoy spoke to the New Statesman magazine in February this year about his concerns about the "damaging" situation he is seeing with his own eyes.
The Scottish actor said: "That’s a frightening world to live in because as soon as you get one tiny pocket of society creating all the arts, or culture starts to become representative not of everybody but of one tiny part. That’s not fair to being with, but it’s also damaging for society."
However, ‘Harry Potter’ actor Michael Gambon disagrees with McAvoy’s appraisal and believes the more old Etonians and other privately taught actors are in the business the better.
He said: "The more old Etonians the better I think. The two or three who are playing at the moment are geniuses aren’t they? The more geniuses you get the better. It’s to do with being actors and wanting to do it; it’s nothing to do with where they come from."