David Harewood of Showtime’s intrigue drama “Homeland” is part of the new British invasion. Not just British actors, like Harewood’s “Homeland” co-star Damian Lewis. This specific invasion finds black actors heading Stateside, as Lennie James did for “Jericho.”
“It’s only once you have an American success that suddenly the British see you as one of their own,” says the soft-spoken Harewood (Tuck in “Robin Hood”).
“Idris Elba couldn’t get an audition” before his splash in HBO’s “The Wire,” Harewood notes. Afterward, Elba starred in the BBC’s “Luther” detective hit. “And suddenly he’s the face of British television.”
Harewood’s U.S. debut in “Homeland” makes him the face of the American government, radiating quiet authority as a CIA deputy chief whose personal history with renegade agent Claire Danes complicates her scrutiny of Lewis’ Marine officer, home from Iraq after eight years MIA.
“It’s almost impossible for me to play a role of this magnitude in the U.K.,” Harewood says. “You can have a great career on the stage, but you can’t bring up a family (financially).”
So he’s seeking his fortune in Charlotte, N.C., which cheats suburban Washington for “Homeland” (Showtime debut Oct. 2). His wife and daughters came over for the summer.
“Every morning the kids are in the pool, and my whole life has turned around. It was a tough last couple of years in the U.K.,” says Harewood, who says he lost a lifelong friend and didn’t work for almost a year.
“And I actually got ‘Homeland’ on his birthday,” Harewood says. “I checked once I’d got the job, and my account was down to 80 pounds. I felt like he was looking down on me.”