The intriguing and dangerous relationship between Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) and CIA officer Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) has kept audiences glued to the edge-of-your-seat thriller Homeland and left them wanting more. With the fate of our nation at stake, this gripping and emotional thriller is back and stronger than ever for a third season, premiering on September 29th.
While at the Showtime portion of the TCA Press Tour, co-stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis talked about how Carrie is her own personal ticking bomb, how different things are with Saul (Mandy Patinkin) this season, where viewers will find Brody, now that he’s on the lamb, Anne Hathaway’s spoof of the show on Saturday Night Live, and just how many more seasons they think this show can go. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
CLAIRE DANES: Well, Carrie is always sitting on her own personal ticking bomb. It’s just an impossible dilemma because she is not great on the meds, and she’s even worse off of them. But, there’s a really great sweet spot, in the middle of those two states, that she’s always trying to land on, where she’s exceptionally high-performing, and we get to enjoy her process of finding that balance. It’s pretty bleak, in the beginning. She’s gone off her meds, for all sorts of reasons that she believes strongly in, but it’s always a little precarious.
Both you and your husband, Hugh Dancy, play crazy characters. What happens when you go home?
DANES: There’s just so much crazy on the screen that we are tapped out and incredibly dull, by the time we get back home.
How different is your work with Mandy Patinkin this season, given Saul’s behavior?
DANES: I’ve actually missed my friends. I miss my acting buddies. Carrie has been in isolation for a good chunk of the season, and it’s only now that she’s starting to team up again with the more familiar characters. So, I’ve been feeling a little lonely as Claire, the actor. Carrie does feel a certain level of betrayal. Both Saul and Carrie share an enormous, profound amount of guilt and responsibility for this devastating bomb that has happened, and this loss. Even though they are estranged from each other, they are very deeply connected because they experienced that trauma, in a way that no one else has.
Damian, what can you say about where Brody is, this season?
DAMIAN LEWIS: It’s a function of the story that we don’t see Brody. Brody is on the lam. He’s disappeared into a network of a tunnel system. It’s an exfiltration procedure that Carrie has effected. He’s arguably the most wanted criminal in the world, at this point, so he has to lay low. I hope that, when you do see Brody for the first time, it will be interesting.
LEWIS: Morgan is constantly surprising. She’s an instinctive and very spontaneous, present actress. She’s three years older now, and the difference between being 15 and 18 is a lot. She’s flourished into a young woman, and there’s storyline that represents that, in Season 3. Those scenes between her and I were affecting because she was the one person who seemed to have the breadth of imagination and curiosity to really understand what had happened to her dad. He acknowledged that in her, and so they had a strong, mutual connection. It’s very sad, actually. It’s the one thing you could come back to and rely on. There was this gift of love, and some tenderness, between these two. Such is the bleak world outlook of our two co-creators, that that’s been ripped from us.
Claire, with both Temple Grandin and Homeland, you’ve gotten a tremendous amount of praise. Is it really true that you couldn’t get a job in the year between those two things?
DANES: Yeah. There was a disconnect, and that was confusing, when people really did seem to appreciate Temple Grandin, and even my performance within it. I think that a couple things were going on. One, I was so inspired by that role and so challenged by it, and I felt like I really had to push myself. I felt energized and emboldened by that, and ready to take on a similar kind of challenge, but there just aren’t many roles like that. I didn’t have patience for regular old stuff. There was also a dearth of material, in general, in that moment, for whatever reason. But, it all worked out in the end. And also, I guess I had been at it long enough to know that just to do a job for the sake of it is really a bad idea. It’s never really satisfying, and it’s better to just cope with that frustration and wait for something that is generally enticing.
Was there a moment where you thought about not acting, and doing something else instead?
DANES: We’re freelance people and, dare I say, artists. That’s the risk of what we do. People say, “Do you feel imprisoned by your contract for Homeland?,” and I’m like, “No, it’s great insurance.” I know that, at least once a year, I’m going to get to do really stimulating, worthwhile work.
DANES: I’m friendly with Anne. I was in Toronto, at the time, with Hugh, who was doing Hannibal there, and I got a series of texts from her saying, “So, I’m hosting SNL, and I really hope we can still be friends.” And then, sent me a big bouquet of flowers, before it aired, and I was like, “Oh, shit! I don’t know if I want to watch this.” She was way too nice about it. I did get a little bit curious and I tried to look it up on my computer, and I literally couldn’t figure it out because being in Canada created some difficulty. I enjoyed her flowers, and I don’t think I need to look at that, but it’s all in good fun. To be honest, I was actually very flattered, genuinely, to be parodied on SNL. That means we are relevant. We’re in the zeitgeist. We’re cool enough to make fun of.
Do you feel that there’s a point at which this show is just going to become so exhausting that you’re going to need a year off?
LEWIS: Oh, we’re past that point.
DANES: Yeah. I keep thinking, “There’s no way that they can go further. No way! Their imaginations must be tapped out, at this point.” I really am in awe of what they can do. Every season is just that much more bold and brave, and involved and surprising. It’s so much fun. It feels so lucky.
Damian, you’re an Emmy-winning lead actor, who isn’t in the first two episodes of the third season. When they told you that you wouldn’t be in the first episodes, what was your reaction?
LEWIS: They’ve been trying to kill me, since the end of Episode 1. It’s FOX and Showtime who keep delaying it. I’m on a stay of execution, but I don’t know for how much longer. It wasn’t a surprise, at all. It’s completely in line with the idea that you must be ruthless with story and ruthless with characters. We’ve already seen one or two prominent characters disappear, and I’m sure there will be more. It’s the world that the story is set in. I think it’s good. TV audiences are so literate now. They’re so good at guessing plot and what’s going to happen next, and all the different permutations. It’s the timing of story that is in their power. If you can shock people by the timing of things, then you’re going to be constantly surprising and astonishing people, and that’s what they’ve done so well, for the first two years.
Homeland returns to Showtime for Season 3 on September 29th.