Carrie Mathison appears to be enlisting a high-powered ally in Washington for “Homeland’s” sixth season: a commander in chief who happens to be a woman.
“Homeland” star Claire Danes said Tuesday during a Q&A with exec producer/director Lesli Linka Glatter that the upcoming season will focus on a female president-elect navigating the transitional period between Election Day and the inauguration.
“Homeland’s” new president will not be a thinly veiled Hillary Clinton figure but rather “a composite of all the different candidates,” Danes says.
The character is a politician who “challenges the norms (and) is a little scary for that reason,” Danes says. And she adds: “She gets along with Carrie Mathison pretty well,” a hint that suggests that Mathison may be back in a governmental position when Season 6 begins in January.
Danes and Glatter discussed the intricacies of “Homeland’s” fifth season in a Q&A with Vanity Fair scribe James Wolcott, hosted by the New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center. The gabfest followed a screening of the Glatter-helmed second episode of Season 5, “The Tradition of Hospitality” (the one where Carrie and Otto During visit the refugee camp in Beirut).
Wolcott praised the expansive, cinematic look and feel of the episode. Glatter noted that it was shot as the production team was still getting their bearings in Berlin, the locale for Season 5. And Glatter was quick to advise: “We actually don’t have a lot of money. We are very clever in how we use our production dollars.”
The conversation was punctuated with several other clips from Season 5, including the touching final moments of the season with Carrie at the hospital bed of Rupert Friend’s Quinn. Danes, who saw the sequence for the first time on Tuesday (June 7), noted that it was Friend who wrote the letter to Carrie that is read in voice-over.
“That was Rupert,” Danes says, noting that “Homeland” showrunner Alex Gansa asked the actor what he thought his character would want to convey to Carrie. “It’s so true of Quinn,” she says. Glatter admitted the first time she heard Friend’s narration of the letter she burst into tears. “The guy who never says anything says everything in such a poetic way,” she says.
Danes and Glatter gave no hints about what the future holds for Quinn but they did point out that they were unsure of his fate at the time the finale was shot. (Gansa has since confirmed that Quinn will be back in some form.) “We shot a couple of different versions just in case,” Danes says.
Among other highlights from the conversation:
- Quinn’s powerful speech about the U.S. strategy in Syria in the season opener of Season 5 — “You tell me what the strategy is and I’ll tell you what’s working” — was lifted nearly verbatim from the briefings that the “Homeland” team does every year with members of the D.C. intelligence community. Those meetings are a big part of the reason why the show has been so prescient about real-world events. “We take the temperature” of the people they are depicting in the show, Danes says, which provides a “pretty accurate forecast of what’s to come.”
- The finale of Season 5, in which Carrie averts a gas attack on a Berlin train station, was shot the day after the world was jolted by the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris. “That was really hard,” Danes says. “It was just a little too close.” Filming in the train station was also unpredictable because they had “no control over anything,” Glatter says. Danes was running around amid actual commuters. “It was really nutty — like a student film,” Danes says.
- For Danes, playing off-the-meds Carrie is “a bit of a slalom.” She surfs the web for videos made by bipolar and OCD people who have created their own online communities. “It can be really exciting and exhilarating to play as a performer,” she says. But but the end of each season, Danes says she is “really schnockered” and “depleted,” both physically and emotionally. “It takes me a while to exfoliate,” she says.
- Despite the numerous action sequences she has filmed behind the wheel, Danes is a terrible driver. “The crew is terrified whenever I have to take the wheel,” she says, which Glatter confirms. But Danes enjoys doing action sequences especially when Glatter is directing. Glatter’s background as a choreographer is evident, Danes says. “She choreographs those action sequences as she would her dancers.”
- Showtime’s decision to push the premiere of season six to January rather than stick with the show’s customary October debut means that Danes has more time to spend with her 3 1/2 year old son. “I get to have a summer,” she says, noting that filming in New York City won’t begin until August.
- Danes revealed herself to be fan of HBO’s “The Wire,” which she hailed as “the best show ever.” “Homeland” has borrowed the structural idea from “Wire” of rebooting itself with a new storyline each year. “We consider different facets of this world every season,” she says. Glatter adds: “We don’t go back to the same old hospital set.”