This comes after the Billions and Homeland star signed up to A+E Networks’ factual series Spy Wars, which he will co-produce, marking his nascent indie’s first project.
In an interview with Deadline, Lewis said that he wants to produce and direct across genres and has already lined up to develop a feature film, another television series and a play.
“It’s an opportunity for me to create some exciting drama and comedy,” he said. “It gives me an opportunity to be creating things from inception.”
He admitted that it was early days and these projects needed time to “percolate”. But he added, “It’s a way to work independently with other producers, authors and talent to make compelling and provocative content.”
Lewis is finishing up work on the fourth season of Showtime’s Billions, where he plays hedge fund king Bobby Axelrod and admitted that it was difficult to focus on much else when working on a long-running series – “you’re tending to water lots of different areas of the garden” – but added that acting gives you a “front row seat” when it comes to production and directing. “It’s the best film school there is,” he said.
He is currently in London working on Spy Wars, an eight-part documentary series about international espionage that is a co-production between A+E Networks UK and its U.S. parent company. The series, which is produced by Fishing Impossible and Very British Problems producer Alaska TV, will see Lewis work with his brother Gareth, who directed The Baker, which starred Damian, and Ben McIntyre, author of The Spy and The Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War.
The series will see Lewis travel to London, Israel and Moscow and will feature experts and former spies including ex-Mossad, ex-CIA, ex-KGB and ex-MI6. Using reconstructions, each episode will tell a different spy story from the Cold War through to the ‘war on terror’ and the renewed espionage hostilities of present day. Lewis said that the challenge with factual is that there’s no script or template but the fun part is the investigation, particularly in this case as these are live cases rather than cold cases. He revealed an interest in the history of espionage, including the formation of the CIA after World War II, and the competition between different countries, as well as intra-country agencies. “I’ve never done factual before but I have broad taste and I want to dabble in this,” he added.
In addition to on-screen work, Lewis is also keen to work in theater. While he is best known for TV roles such as Band of Brothers, Billions and Homeland, he has also tread the boards in plays such as with Sophie Okonedo in The Goat, or Who Is Slyvia? and with John Goodman in American Buffalo.
The Wolf Hall actor has produced before, he worked with the likes of Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt and The Enfield Haunting and Chimerica producer Adrian Sturges at Picture Farm, producing films including The Baker and The Escapist. “I always loved being in [a project] from the start. It’s much harder work, which is why you end up acting because acting is the icing on the cake. But I really enjoy the process.”
He said that he expects Rookery Productions to remain independent and is likely to avoid the route of formally partnering with a studio, at least to begin with. “We will build slowly and organically and hopefully independently,” he said.
He is in the final stages of talking to another partner to help run Rookery Pictures. “I need someone who is a fully trained, qualified professional, who is smarter than I am,” he joked.