'Homeland' star Damian Lewis regrets Obama Muslim joke

damian-lewis-emmys-homeland.jpgAlthough there is nothing funny about "Homeland" star Damian Lewis', intense portrayal of a U.S. Marine turned by Al-Qaeda, the British actor has a cheeky sense of humor.

Maybe too cheeky?

After enjoying dinner at the White House with President Barack Obama -- an enthusiastic "Homeland" fan -- Lewis was asked to sign a DVD box set of the show as a gift for POTUS. But as he revealed on the U.K.'s "Jonathan Ross Show," he realized too late that his ironic comment might have been misinterpreted.

"Claire Danes had written something really lovely and sweet, saying, 'I was a fan of yours long before you were a fan of ours,'" Lewis shared. "I thought that was really stylish. I thought, I'll think of something great. So I wrote, 'From one Muslim to another.' In an indelible Sharpie.

"I couldn't take it back. I was then writing emails for the whole of the next week going, 'I do hope he understands irony!'"

Of course, one of the many false conspiracies plaguing Obama, a practicing Christian, is that he is Muslim -- like Lewis' fictional character, Nick Brody, who secretly converted to Islam.

Lewis certainly doesn't take the subject of religion lightly.

"Before I accepted the job," he explained, "I said I'd feel uneasy if there was any lazy association drawn between violence and Islam -- and wouldn't it be more subversive if Islam actually became something sustaining for him, was a force for good in his life, poetic, even ... nurturing for him."

So when the talk-show host asked whether Lewis had congratulated the president on his reelection, he said he did send him a note. What did he write?

"Congratulations on being reelected," the actor deadpanned.

"Never repeat a joke," he added. "Especially when it's not funny the first time."

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