Meet the real Carrie: Claire Danes looks back at eight seasons of the epic series Homeland
‘CIA operative Carrie Mathison is on the lookout for an American prisoner who may have joined forces with Al-Qaeda. Released from being hostage after eight years, Marine Nicholas Brody is her suspect.’
This was our clue-in to Homeland, the spy thriller series that has now finally arrived at its end.
After eight seasons — and multiple Emmys and Golden Globes — Claire Danes, who leads the show as Carrie, tells us about her journey so far.
Can you tell us a little bit about taking on the role of Brody this season?
Claire: Yeah. I thought that was very elegant storytelling. There's that perfect symmetry.
And I think just psychically, it fuses Carrie with Brody in a way that felt right. And she is so clear about her patriotism.
That is, she can be challenged in every way, but if her patriotism is questioned, I think that is probably the most profound insult she could imagine.
So that was also interesting to play and explore. It was a good entry point.
After all the seasons on Homeland, do you find yourself in discussion with your friends about world news, about what's happening in the Middle East? Because of the experience of Homeland, do you feel you have a bit of knowledge of the situation over there?
Claire: I think so. I think all that knowledge that we had was through the incredible access which was really funnelled into our storytelling. I don't feel like an authority on politics in general at large.
I mean, it was - it was relevant insofar as it informed my work on this show. So, I think it didn't really bleed out too much into the parameters beyond that.
But, yeah. That's one of the things I will miss the most, was getting to have that direct interchange with actual policymakers and intelligence officers, and people who are really building the world around us rather than merely reflecting on it.
Over these eight seasons, what were some of your favourite or most memorable episodes, and why do those stand out to you?
Claire: Well, the first one that comes to mind is ‘Q&A’, I think. One, it's the first one where I met this lady. No. And it was kind of like a play.
You know, it was just so unusual in its structure, and it was just so beautifully written. And I'd just never done that before, had an hour-long conversation opposite another actor. So that was very memorable.
Any scene with Mandy (Patinkin), basically. I mean, I remember my first scene, but I don't know what episode it was.
It was in the first season when I was talking to Mandy about my frustrations with the job and about being lonely. That I would be alone all my life. It's like a mission statement. That was their crisis.
That was going to be the sacrifice that they were going to have to make over and over and over again.
So that was a meaningful exchange. I don't know. Gosh! That's what first comes to mind. There are many more.
Through either attrition or design, the two people who have been there longest on the series are obviously Saul and Carrie, but then it's Max, the guy who has been there the longest amount of time. What does that say about that character? And was there a point at which you realised, ‘My god. The writers have killed off everyone else who has been on this show previously, and now Max is, kind of, the last man standing’. What do you have to say about that?
Claire: I think he's an incredible example of an actor who turned a part that could have been fairly easily dismissed into something really specific and substantial and indispensable.
And he was playing somebody on the autistic spectrum, which was never overtly articulated, but he was so consistent with his choices. That was always so clear.
And I think that's really interesting, actually, to see somebody who is an analyst and is working in the minutia of this technology. I think that's probably true for a lot of people.
And I think it's kind of interesting that Carrie had this bipolar condition and he also had a brain that worked a little differently from most.
So you kind of understood that it does take an exceptional person who often exists, sort of, in the margins to devote themselves to this line of work, which is pretty crazy, and I think that neither of them were able to have human relationships.
Largely for that reason, which also made them eligible to do the work that was required.
So I think that was also something that just kind of happened naturally and nobody designed but was really valuable and very revealing of how that world works.
When they say to Carrie, ‘Do you want to go back out in the field?’ and she says, ‘Hell, yes, I want to go,’ even though she knows she's going to be emotionally battered the moment she gets there. Is any of that similar to you? When you said, you've got one more year, where you just like, ‘Hell, yes, I just want to do this year,’ or in the back of your mind, do you realise how thoroughly you are going to be emotionally battered during the course of doing that?
Claire: Yeah, it's taxing. It's kind of pummeling, but I'm so intimate with this imagined person now. And I've been carrying her with me for almost a decade, and I've been in this incredible company that is just so exquisitely talented.
And I just know how rare that combination is to be working with people who I trust and respect and admire so much and to be working with material that is always going to challenge me and make me question something urgent and worthwhile. So I feel very conflicted.
I also think that the nature of this show actually is such that we could go on. This could continue. I think of it like origami. It just gets reconfigured every season. And I think it is providing a service that isn't being provided very readily.
And I don’t think that it's just entertainment. I think it is to a certain extent, but I do think it stimulates conversation, and I think it is unique. So I think there will be an absence.
I will miss it, personally. We had one extra season beyond what we were contracted to do, and I think we all had to dig pretty deep in order to produce it. So I don't know.
And, I don't have any other reference point for this. I've never made anything for this long. I had my family over the course of filming this thing. It’s been so profoundly defining for me.
Homeland Season 8 airs on Star World every Friday at 10 pm.
- Team Indulge