Damian Lewis 'kept Eton background secret'

Damian Lewis Channel 4 will broadcast the second season of Homeland this autumn

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Homeland's Damian Lewis has revealed he used to keep his Eton school background a secret to avoid typecasting.

Speaking to Radio 4's Front Row, the British actor said he was aware of the risk when he first began acting and never revealed the detail.

"It was really to avoid any typecasting in a floppy-fringed, public schoolboy kind of way," he said.

By not looking the stereotypical part, Lewis went on, he had a greater variety of roles open to him.

"My experience of boarding school was that I wasn't the handsome Rupert Everett type," the 41-year-old said. "I was the slightly too red and pale, funny one."

Once he had played a range of roles and felt confident to talk about attending Eton, the actor found "it was the first line of every print interview" he did.

Lewis talks to reporters at the premiere of The Sweeney

"I thought, 'There you go, I'm vindicated,' and there was every reason not to talk about it," he said.

His comments come after Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch complained he was fed up with being attacked over his private school education.

In contrast, Lewis said, he had generally not experienced much "posh-bashing".

"It's probably partly to do with the success I've had in America that people don't identify me too strongly with it in its context," he said.

"When they want to they will, and when they don't need to they don't, so I don't mind too much."

Lewis will soon be seen in a film version of The Sweeney, alongside Ray Winstone and Ben "Plan B" Drew.

The full interview can be heard of Radio 4's Front Row on Tuesday at 19:15 BST.

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