Lewis was born in St John's Wood, London, the son of Charlotte Mary (née Bowater) and J. Watcyn Lewis, a City broker.His paternal grandparents were Welsh. His maternal grandfather was Lord Mayor of London Ian Frank Bowater and his maternal grandmother's ancestors include Bertrand Dawson, 1st Viscount Dawson of Penn (a doctor to the royal family) and philanthropist Alfred Yarrow.
Lewis made several visits to the United States to visit relatives during his summers as a child. He first decided to become an actor at age 16. He was educated at the independent Ashdown House School in the village of Forest Row in East Sussex and at Eton College and graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1993, after which he served as a stage actor for the Royal Shakespeare Company. During his time with the RSC, he played Borgheim in Adrian Noble's production of Henrik Ibsen's Little Eyolf, as well as Posthumus in William Shakespeare's Cymbeline. He has also starred in another of Ibsen's plays, Pillars of the Community.
Lewis appeared in the 1997 film Robinson Crusoe, playing Patrick Conner. Lewis also appeared in Jonathan Kent's production of Hamlet, playing Laertes opposite Ralph Fiennes' Hamlet. This production was seen by Steven Spielberg, who subsequently cast Lewis as Richard Winters in the HBO/BBC World War II miniseries Band of Brothers, his first role of several that required a credible American accent.
Subsequently, Lewis has played Soames Forsyte in the ITV series The Forsyte Saga (later shown as a Masterpiece Theatre miniseries), which earned him rave reviews and further exposed him to a US audience. He returned to the US to star in Dreamcatcher, a Stephen King film about a man who becomes possessed by an evil alien. The character is American but when possessed he takes on a British accent.
On the heels of this role, he starred in Keane as a Manhattanite with a fragile mental state who is searching for his missing daughter. Despite the film's poor box-office performance, the role won Lewis rave reviews.
He played Jeffrey Archer in the satirical TV special Jeffrey Archer: The Truth. Since 2004, he has appeared in a number of films, as well as the 2005 BBC TV adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing, as part of the ShakespeaRe-Told season. Lewis played the role of Yassen Gregorovich in the film Stormbreaker.
In 2006 he appeared in Stephen Poliakoff's BBC drama Friends and Crocodiles. On 10 November 2006, 1 May 2009, 18 November 2010, and 27 April 2012, he was the guest host on BBC's Have I Got News For You.
In 2008, Lewis starred as the main character Charlie Crews in the US television series Life on NBC. The show premiered in the US on 26 September 2007 and was affected by the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. Only half of the first season's shows were produced. Regardless, the show won a 2008 AFI Award for best television series. Although the show received critical acclaim, when it returned the following television season, it was shuffled from night to night. With its high production costs, the show was cancelled by NBC to clear its time slot for the much less expensive daily program The Jay Leno Show. Lewis appeared, the following year, in the lead role in The Baker, a film directed by his brother, Gareth Lewis, and also took the supporting role of Rizza in The Escapist, which he also helped produce.
Lewis led the cast in Martin Crimp's version of Molière's comedy, The Misanthrope, which opened in December 2009 at the Comedy Theatre, London. Other cast members included Tara FitzGerald, Keira Knightley and Dominic Rowan.
As of 2012, Lewis has a starring role as Sergeant Nicholas Brody in the Showtime psychological thriller series Homeland.
In 2014, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
On 4 July 2007, Lewis married actress Helen McCrory; together they have a daughter, Manon (born 8 September 2006), and a son, Gulliver (born 2 November 2007). They live in Tufnell Park and Los Angeles.
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Behind the Scenes
|Pilot||Grace||Clean Skin||Semper I||Blind Spot|
|The Good Soldier||The Weekend||Achilles Heel||Crossfire||Representative Brody|
|The Vest||Marine One|
|The Smile||Beirut is Back||State of Independence||New Car Smell||Q&A|
|A Gettysburg Address||The Clearing||I'll Fly Away||Two Hats||Broken Hearts|
|In Memoriam||The Choice|
|"Tin Man Is Down"||"Uh... Oh... Ah..."||Tower of David||"Game On"||"The Yoga Play"|
|"Still Positive"||"Gerontion"||A Red Wheelbarrow||One Last Thing||Good Night|
|Big Man in Tehran||The Star|