The twins from Tell Me Who I Am answer burning questions about shocking Netflix documentary
Marcus Lewis kept a huge secret from his twin brother Alex for the better part of 20 years, and in Netflix’s Tell Me Who I Am everything was finally revealed.
It was too painful for Marcus to think about the reality of the life they had growing up, instead choosing to forget their traumatizing history and create a new one for his identical sibling — and in turn himself. But after the death of their parents, Alex began questioning everything Marcus told him about their youth.
In the documentary, Marcus was finally able to give Alex the painful answers the latter had been asking for. With a little help from director Ed Perkins, Marcus told Alex via a recorded message that played on a laptop about the sexual abuse they experienced at the hands of their mother. A mother, who instead of protecting them, also loaned her sons out on an individual basis to friends who sexually assaulted them.
The twins spoke to EW about their experience shooting the documentary and how it has changed their lives forever.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Marcus had such a difficult time opening up about what happened when you were children, why did you choose to share your secret in a documentary?
Marcus Lewis: It all happened organically. Alex wrote a piece in a British newspaper about our story which led to us writing a book. I didn’t want to write the book, but it was something that Alex felt really strongly about so I eventually gave in. Seven years later, we were approached by Simon Chinn and Ed Perkins to do a movie.
Did the book not answer all of Alex’s questions?
Marcus: I was not completely truthful in the book, in the sense that I had given Alex as much as I was capable of giving him which was some of the knowledge of what happened but not all of it. I said we had been abused by mummy and that other people had abused us. So he kind of knew but in a very generic way and he wanted more. I think that doing the documentary helped me have a voice that I hadn’t had in the book.
Alex Lewis: My process has been very different to Marcus because I was the one searching, both in the book and the documentary. I got so much more from him in the documentary, which gave me full closure.
Marcus: After the documentary, we went to the pub—as you do when you’re English—and we had a beer each. I said to Alex, ‘Are we done? Are we good?’ and Alex said, ‘We’re done’ so now it’s finished. It was an amazing moment because we had been searching for it for a long time.
We didn’t know that was going to happen that day, that we’d get that closure but we did.
In the documentary, you discuss that there were prominent people who molested you as children. Have you thought about getting justice from those that are still alive?
Marcus: For me, the main [culprit] was my mother. The other people were nameless, faceless people who are probably dead or in their 90’s. Alex and I feel that we want to move forward. We’re glad that we did this documentary so that it can help other people and that’s the space we would rather stay in. We don’t want any negativity, we don’t want to go backward.
Your family home was enormous, yet you both were made to live in this tiny shed with twin beds side-by-side. Can you explain why you were limited access to the main house?
Marcus: It was a complicated house— it was an aristocratic way of living and a complicated family. We had this really large house, our parents slept in different sections of it. Our step-father was so much older than our mother, they were 30 years apart in age. We spoke when we were spoken to, when we were allowed. We called our step-father sir. It wasn’t a normal happy type of family way of doing things, it was a Victorian English upbringing.
Alex: And being in the shed, people are shocked by that since we had such a big house. For us, that was great because we had our own little space—our safe space. The shed was kind of shitty and it didn’t have any heating or lighting but it was still ours. We felt safer there than we did in the house.
But you don’t all still live there now, do you?
Marcus: We have since sold the house. First, our step-father died and then our mother. We went from not having a key to the house and having to ask for permission to go to certain parts of the house, to having the whole house to ourselves after our mother died. We could finally go anywhere we wanted and do anything we wanted, which was a strange feeling for us.
You mention your step-father and I don’t think the documentary is clear that the man who raised you is not your biological father. What happened to him?
Marcus: In the documentary, we call him our father because he was our father. We didn’t know anything else. We were 7 when she married him. Our real father died picking us up from the hospital. He came to pick us up when we were two or three days old. I had a chest infection so I stayed in the hospital. When my mother and father drove Alex home, they had a car accident and he went through the windshield.
Alex: I went through the windshield, too. I had multiple head injuries and was in a coma on a life machine. My dad was on a life support machine that was turned off after 10 days. I came out of the coma, eventually but he doesn’t. So that’s how I started my life.
And then you suffer another accident at 18 that claimed your memories?
Alex: Yes, similar head injuries with the second being compounded by the first one. So both played a role in my memory loss.
Throughout my 20’s, I tried everything I could find like hypnosis to help me get my memory back. I now know I didn’t need those memories back, so I’m glad that none of them worked. You could view this as a gift. Marcus says I was given a free ride, that I had a free ticket through life, which I wouldn’t have had if not for the accident.
When you visit the attic after your mother has died, you discover a treasure trove of gifts that were given to you by family members. Where were they when all this was happening to you?
Marcus: They were always around. They’re who we call our guardian angels. They were the ones who took us on vacation. These were three or four families that looked out for us. They were not our real family members, they were just kind families who were our friends and looked out for us. We did not have access to our real families.
They felt this need to look after us but didn’t know why. So we’d go to their house for dinner or go on vacations with them. Sometimes we’d even go and live with them for some time and they just let us do that as teenagers.
Your mom was able to enjoy time with you both before she died and Alex didn’t remember what she had done to you. Does this make you mad at all?
Alex: I spent 12 years with this lady—I only knew her for 12 years—and I grew to love her. She got everything from me, so that Marcus didn’t have to break his lie and tell me this story. We had to go into this fantasy and give her everything.
Marcus: We were 30 years old when she died, and we were not strong enough to challenge her or tell her any different. I was living this life that I created for her and Alex but I was also creating it for me. Therefore, I got to a point where I didn’t believe I had been abused. I created this false life for me, as well. So I knew that telling him was telling me.
Tell Me Who I Am is currently available to watch on Netflix. Watch the trailer above.