Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
In this episode, Variety’s managing editor of TV, Cynthia Littleton, sat down with “Homeland” star Claire Danes in New York to talk about the denouement of Season 7 (spoiler alert!), what it’s like to live with Carrie Mathison for seven seasons and counting, and the future of the Showtime drama. As Danes awaits the birth of her second child with her husband, actor Hugh Dancy, she also spoke candidly about adjusting to life as a working mother (“Mommy’s job is weird, for sure,” she quips).
“In a perverse way I do kind of enjoy her company,” Danes said of Mathison, the once-and-future CIA agent who is the beating heart of “Homeland.” The closing moments of Season 7 find Carrie, a brilliant strategist who battles bipolar disorder, in desperate straits after seven months in a Russian prison. She’s handed back to Mandy Patinkin’s Saul Berenson at a border crossing as part of a prisoner exchange, looking as crazy and unhinged as we have ever seen Carrie — and that’s saying something after seven seasons.
Danes reveals that “Homeland” producers shot many scenes of Carrie in captivity in the Russian prison that never made it to air.
“It was more powerful to discover her (predicament) in real time with Saul. And for us to imagine what she went through rather than have that be articulated,” Danes said. Although the material was not used, it was not a wasted effort. “We didn’t use a lot of that work, but it was not for naught; it informed that (final) moment. I don’t know if I would have been able to arrive at that as thoroughly and fully as I did without all of that extra work,” Danes said.
It took hours of hair and makeup work to get Carrie to look so painfully disheveled and traumatized. Once the shoot was finished — at 6:30 a.m. in Budapest — Danes was determined to see her son Cyrus before he went off to school for the day.
“It took forever to undo all of that makeup,” she said. “He does see me in pretty strange states of being.”
As for the future, Danes said the question of whether Season 8 will be the final round for “Homeland” remains unclear. “It’s not unequivocally conclusive,” she said. The nature of the show and its reinvention every season to focus on a new national security-related storyline gives them options. “It’s the kind of show that could continue indefinitely because it’s a strange model,” she said. “It can mutate in a lot of ways.”
Lensing of Season 8 will be pushed back to January because of Danes’ pregnancy (she’s due in August). The ever-changing shooting locations for “Homeland” are an important consideration for Danes now that her older son has reached kindergarten age.
“He’s getting to the point where he’s not as portable as he has been. He’s starting to need to be anchored. He’s got his own agenda,” Danes said. “This show — we are globe-trotters. I don’t know how much I can keep imposing that on him. And we have another human being arriving soon. My life is evolving in ways that are going to maybe influence the decisions I make in my work.”
Listen to the full interview to hear Danes describe how she compartmentalizes Carrie during her “Homeland” hiatus (“She’s vodka on ice in the freezer waiting for me”) and the possibility of revisiting the 1994-1995 ABC dramedy that put Danes on the map as an actor, “My So-Called Life.” She has remained friendly with series creator Winnie Holzman and would be game to work with her again.
“I think we might have another something in us as partners just because she’s the best and it would be so fun to collaborate again, as a grown-up,” Danes said.