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Inside Homeland

The epic TV show has already won awards, and promises to keep everyone on the edge of their seats in the second season this fall
Marshall Fine
From the Print Edition:
The Brains Behind Homeland, May/June 2012

(continued from page 3)

“We wanted Claire from the beginning,” Gordon says. “We even pictured her as the template for the character, which is why the character’s name initially was Claire.”

“Showtime has a wonderful track record of creating shows with actresses at mid-career,” Gansa says. “Laura Linney, Edie Falco, Toni Collette—and they saw the character of Carrie that way. Robin Wright, Maria Bello, even Halle Berry, these were the names they were throwing around. Our feeling was that the character needed to be in her early 30s. Despite the disease, she also had this hope of still getting her life on track. If she’s too old, though, she’s past that point.”

Casting Lewis as Brody was an even tougher fight: “People were flinging phrases around like ‘Over my dead body,’ ” recalls Gansa.

After all, the British-born Lewis was relatively unknown in the U.S.; he’d been part of the ensemble cast of the Emmy-winning “Band of Brothers,” but his most visible American role had been in a short-lived NBC series, “Life.”

“He was perceived as being in a flop,” Gansa says. “So there was some reticence about casting him again as an American. He had no track record.”

The game-changer? A 2004 independent film, Keane, in which Lewis had played a man battling mental illness: “I’m massively proud of Keane, but I think it was seen by one man and a dog,” Lewis says. “Fortunately, Michael Cuesta had seen it and took it to Alex and Howard.”

“Alex called me up and told me to watch the movie,” Gordon recalls. “And when you watch it, he’s clearly that guy with the same intensity that the Brody character has. Once we showed Keane to people, they folded in.”

Patinkin had his own reputation for battling with producers before departing such series as “Chicago Hope” and “Criminal Minds”: “He had left a couple of shows, which never wins you friends,” Gansa says. “But he was so perfect for this part. He’s somebody I’ve loved since I saw him in Sunday in the Park with George on stage when I was 21. I enjoy writing his character because I love John le Carré novels and that character is so influenced by George Smiley and those old Cold Warriors of le Carré.”

When Gordon and Gansa crafted the show’s “bible” (the storyline for the entire season), they initially thought they had enough plot for the first two seasons; the first season would end with the reveal that Brody’s late partner and fellow POW, Tom Walker (Chris Chalk)—who Brody believed he’d been forced to beat to death by their al-Qaeda captors—was, in fact, alive and in the U.S., as the terrorist sleeper with a suicide mission. Instead, as they worked, they found themselves compressing plot points.

“The basic idea when we started the season was that we eventually would have these two broken people come together and find solace in each other,” says Michael Cuesta, executive producer who also directed four episodes. “I don’t think we knew when it was going to happen. But we knew the relationship would be the crux of the show, the main draw. It was a sleeping-with-the-enemy thing.”

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