As Damien Thorn, spawn of Satan, he freaked out parents around the world. But whatever happened to Harvey Stephens?
Legend has it, five-year-old boy Harvey Spencer Stephens won the role of original problem child Damien in ‘The Omen’ when he punched Richard Donner in the balls – at the director’s behest, we should add. The role would go on to define Harvey’s life: as sweetly sinister Antichrist-in-short-trousers Damien, Stephens became the poster child for an entire generation of horror fans – fans who still line up round the block to meet him today.
The Putney-born lad decided the acting game wasn’t really for him and was too young at the time to truly appreciate what a unique position Donner and 'The Omen’’s producers had put him in. After the role of Damien was recast for sequel 'Omen II: Damien’ in 1978, Stephens’ only other screen role of note came four years after his debut in 'Gauguin The Savage’, a David Carradine movie about tempestuous French painter Paul Gauguin, in which young Harvey played the relatively small part of 'Young Emil’. After that, it was goodbye Hollywood, hello normal life.
Harvey tried his hand at many things as an adult (he’s pictured above in 2005) – he worked in a video store, ran a limo company and is currently a property developer and futures trader. In fact, photographed on the trading floor in 1998, Stephens was an unwitting cover star of The European magazine, who presumably had no idea who he was when they published his picture.
However, Harvey never strayed too far from the horror scene. He contributed to 2005 documentary 'The Curse of The Omen’ and told of his experiences filming the 'cursed’ movie (allegedly, it’s what put him off a career in acting). Harvey went on Howard Stern’s satellite radio show with producer Mark Harris and writer Tadpole Triplett (real name) to discuss a new horror movie named 'Juggles’, which sounds like it sadly never got financed.
Then there was the matter of his esteemed cameo as 'Tabloid Reporter #3’ in the 2006 remake of 'The Omen’: a nod for fans of the original and presumably a nice payday if nothing else. We assume Stephens was secretly delighted the remake tanked – there was, and remains, only one Damien Thorn.
Horror actors don’t need a lasting career: often one role is enough to make them stars for life – when you play the Son of Satan and you do it well, people will recognise you no matter how old you get, or how much your voice sounds like David Beckham (hearing Harvey Stephens speak as an adult, with his South London accent, is about as far from the voice of the Antichrist as you could possibly imagine). Stephens is a permanent fixture in horror conventions around the world such as Monsterpalooza and has travelled far and wide meeting and greeting 'Omen’ fans. Online reports paint him as a kind man who is always happy to pose for pictures and roll out the anecdotes one more time. This 2015 interview sees him gamely interviewed by a vampire puppet.
Now 45, with two daughters and thinning grey hair – his blonde hair was dyed black for the movie and “ruined it”, so he says – Harvey Stephens is seemingly content with his lot. If Damien is what he’ll be remembered for then so be it; he recently posted a picture to his Facebook account of a sign he saw on his travels: “Don’t grow up, it’s a trap”.
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