A ‘Hugely Embarrassed’ Damian Lewis Apologizes to Ian McKellen Over ‘Fruity’ Remark

Earlier in the week actor Damian Lewis told a reporter that he was glad he got out of theater early and escaped becoming "one of these slightly over-the-top, fruity actors who would have an illustrious career on stage, but wouldn't start getting any kind of film work until I was 50 and then start playing wizards.”

LewisThough not mentioned by name, Sir Ian McKellen determined that he resembled that remark, and issued a searing, wizard-worthy takedown of the Homeland actor.

Lewis issued a statement on Wednesday in response:

"I am hugely embarrassed that comments of mine have been linked in a negative way to Sir Ian McKellen. I have always been, and continue to be, an enormous fan and admirer of Sir Ian's. He's one of the greats and one of the reasons I became an actor. My comment in the Guardian was a soundbite I've been giving since 1999 – it was a generic analogy that was never intended to demean or describe anyone else's career. I have contacted Sir Ian McKellen and have given him my sincerest apologies."

McKellen accepted the apology on Twitter, writing:

"There was no need for @Lewis_Damian to apologise to me, as I thought his comments were fair. But he's a gentleman…Now I hope @lewis_damian enjoys @TheHobbitMovie DOS as much as I enjoy @SHO_Homeland."


  1. Joey Y says

    Sorry Damian, but as a grown man you knew exactly what you were saying, you just happened to say it about someone that is extremely well-liked. What you SHOULD be embarrassed about is Dreamcatcher. Oh, and that odd mouth of yours.

  2. Joey Y says

    Sorry Damian, but as a grown man you knew exactly what you were saying, you just happened to say it about someone that is extremely well-liked. What you SHOULD be embarrassed about is Dreamcatcher. Oh, and that odd mouth of yours.

  3. oncemorewithfeeling says

    Lewis has been revealed for who he is (as if anybody was paying attention before), he offered a proper apology and Sir Ian did the right thing in graciously accepting. In this day and age, it’s sadly rare that a mistake made in public is resolved so well and quickly.

    We’re all still free to hate Lewis, however.

  4. Zell says

    I think his apology was genuine and we should all move on from comments that weren’t all that offensive to begin with (though I can see why Ian McKellen would be annoyed by them). Classy apology and classy acceptance of that apology from Sir Ian.

  5. Jack Ford says

    I agree. Let’s move on. Damian Lewis is not a homophobe (I can’t even imagine there being more than a handful of British actors who are – they wouldn’t get very far in the biz) He made a stupid choice of words (‘fruity’ doesn’t definitively = gay. I think he meant ‘precious’ or ‘pretentious’ which many classical trained actors are) and he apologised hole-heartedly and his apology was graciously accepted by the person that he offended. End of story.

  6. James says

    I said it before and I’ll say it again: “fruity” does not mean to them what we Americans think it means. It is not a homophobic epithet — he’s using it in the context of “hammy” or, more accurately as a poster above noted, “precious.”

    Once the alleged homophobia is removed, there’s nothing wrong with what Lewis said, and in fact he’s quite right. We all know that theatrically trained Brit actors can be melodramatic hams — look no further than Samantha’s father Maurice on “Bewitched,” which mined humor from the same phenomenon.

  7. Henry Holland says

    “It is not a homophobic epithet”

    Yeah, right, next you’re going to say that “fag” doesn’t mean the same in the UK as it does in the US, that words can have different meanings in different places! That’s crazy!

    Oh, wait….”fag” in the UK is slang for cigarettes. :-)

  8. Turing's Ghost says

    He may have now realize that his current job at Homeland was provided by a fruity studio exec (Robert Greenblatt) and his future career is dependent on fruity agents, managers, attorneys, and other entertainment execs. I work in L.A. in the entertainment industry, and yes, the “velvet mafia” does exist (apologies to Mike Ovitiz). Apologies not accepted.

  9. CoverGirl says

    Damian is just out-of-joint because he got called out for his passive aggressive remarks. Then he gives this tryory of an apology; was so NOT gentlemanly. But McKellen’s responses were.

  10. bcarter3 says

    “Now I hope @lewis_damian enjoys @TheHobbitMovie DOS as much as I enjoy @SHO_Homeland.”

    Does anyone else read this as slightly, delightfully snarky? Since the consensus seems to be that “Homeland” has deteriorated to the point where it’s unwatchable trash with an idiotic plot?

  11. tim says

    Although I did not care for the comment it was giving about 15 years ago and I know a lot of people having been enlightened during the past 15 years. I am glad that he apologized and that the apology was accepted. Hopefully Damian has learned from this and will have more respect in the future.

  12. Alfred says

    Does it even make sense for someone to be saying the same thing for 14 years and not mean it? If it was a slip of the tongue (like if Baldwin apologized furiously), I could let it go. It’s something he’s been giving since 1999. What he’s said is very disrespectful for both people who enjoy being stage actors and people who wish they would outgrow being stage actors.

  13. sherman norrick says

    Sorry Damian calling a gay man a fruit is as offensive as someone referring to your acting ability as a little light on your feet. Your disregard for the gay community is no joking matter, a soundbite. If acting is so fruity why don’t you go do something more manly and less fruity. Tell us why gay people need to watch your show? That is before we call it game over and move on. Are you insinuating in a catty fruity kind of way Mr. McKellan”s acting was fruity because of his sexual orientation. Are you saying that gay men are fruity? Lets hear how you blame that one on a sound bite. Your comments are demeaning to all gay men. We should never watch your show again. I won’t, why do I want to watch a homophobe.

  14. says

    “fruity” – haven’t heard that euphemism in a while. and Lewis knew exactly what he was saying whether in England or the states. Even at his mature age, that word still stung dear Ian.

  15. John says

    I’ve never heard ‘fruity’ used in a way that means ‘pretentious’ or ‘precious’. It’s sometimes used to mean ‘saucy’ or ‘randy’. Unfortunately, in this context, it means what most people assumed it meant.
    ‘Fag’ and ‘faggot’ has become to mean over here what US americans mean when they say it over there. Sad.

  16. trg says

    Sorry Damian, looks like you resemble another Damian – you know – the conniving little boy with the birthmark on his head? 666? I won’t be watching Homeland.

  17. Gabe R L says

    God, boys, Lewis made a gracious apology and Sir Ian graciously accepted. End of story. Let it go and don’t take everything so seriously for such a long time.

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