Couple hope to finally please their toughest critics who are ‘remarkably unimpressed’ by careers as they take on roles in new children’s comedy.
Between them, they have taken on some of the biggest roles of stage and screen, from the National Theatre to Harry Potter and the most acclaimed US drama. But Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory now hope to finally impress their toughest critics: their children.
The couple have taken on roles in Bill, a new children’s comedy about William Shakespeare, after they fell in love with Horrible Histories as a family.
Lewis – who has previously appeared in Homeland, Band of Brothers and Wolf Hall – said his cameo appearance has won the seal of approval of his two children, who are usually “remarkably unimpressed” with their parents’ work.
He is to play a hapless swashbuckling Englishman sent to rob King Philip II of Spain, while his wife McCrory takes on the role of Elizabeth I.
Lewis, father to nine-year-old daughter Manon and seven-year-old son Gulliver, said: “The children are remarkably unimpressed by any of our work.
“My daughter did say to me the other day, ‘Dad can you make sure the film you’re in now is a main part?’. They do ask quite regularly what the size of our role is and whether it’s worth discussing.
“We are huge fans in our house of the Horrible Histories and watch a lot with our children.”
When asked whether he hoped they would finally be impressed after watching Bill, he added: “Finally, exactly. They’ve seen it and they love it. So it’s been really good fun to be part of it.”
McCrory, who recently appeared at the National Theatre in Medea and has starred in Harry Potter and The Queen, is to swap her everyday glamour to play Elizabeth I as a balding, rotten-toothed, sore-ridden figure keen to chop of the heads of all who cross her.
“I thought she was fantastic,” said Lewis. “Certainly when the kids when they saw it went ‘woah, could you take that make up off please Mum, as soon as you can’. It’s very entertaining for them.”
The film, out on September 18, will tell the entirely fictional story of Shakespeare as a hopeless dreamer, who sets out to London before inadvertently becoming embroiled in a dastardly Spanish plot to overthrow Elizabeth I.
It stars the acting troupe who bring Horrible Histories to life, and is intended as a Monty Python-esque look at Britain’s greatest playwright.
Lewis added: “They’re just smart and funny guys. I loved the idea. It’s their show, they play all the parts – I just thought it was funny or interesting idea that I would crop up just in a small cameo role.
“I was saying to them, we should make this work: if they can roll out a series of films, like the Monty Python days, I would love to do a scene in each.”
Bill will be in UK cinemas from Friday, September 18.