Actors Claire Danes and Damian Lewis are forever linked to the Showtime series Homeland, which kicks off its eighth and final season on Feb. 9, but you might be surprised to hear who else was considered for the all important roles of Carrie and Brody.
Alex Gansa, the co-creator and showrunner, revealed to The Hollywood Reporter for a new oral history, that the network was initially “attached to their model of casting movie stars who were on the tail end of their career.” Or at least stars they thought were at the end. “They were pushing for Robin Wright or Halle Berry or Maria Bello, who were all already in their 40s,” Gansa said. (The actresses all continue to work.)
It just so happened that, at the same time, agent Rick Rosen had been looking for a TV project for Danes. She’d just come off an Emmy-winning performance as an autistic woman in the HBO movie Temple Grandin, and she was hungry for another challenge.
David Nevins, who was then the president of entertainment at Showtime, acknowledged that Danes — a decade younger than the other actresses discussed — had the skills, if not the age, they wanted for the character.
“You didn't want to stop and think too much about the math of how old she was on 9/11,” Nevins said, “but you also don’t question the range of Claire Danes, so that was not a hard call.”
As for the role of Brody, the show makers threw around several other names.
“They were thinking of somebody else who I didn’t think was right for it,” Danes said.
Gansa explained that both Ryan Phillippe and Kyle Chandler were mentioned. This was about a decade ago, when Phillippe was coming off dramatic turns in Breach and Stop-Loss, while Chandler was killing it on the NBC drama Friday Night Lights. Actor Alessandro Nivola, from Face/Off and Howl, was a potential Brody, too, but he didn’t work out.
“So we were three weeks away from shooting the pilot, and we did not have a Brody yet — and we’re still in the ‘Damian Lewis will never play this role, please do not bring him up ever again’ phase,” Gansa said.
Then, the producers watched a little-seen movie called Keane that Lewis, who’s eight years older than Danes, had done in 2004. It’s about a man named William Keane, played by Lewis, dealing with schizophrenia.
And just like that, producers knew.
Homeland won six Emmys, including ones for Danes and Lewis as best actor and actress in a drama, for that first season. While Lewis left the show in 2014, Danes has remained part of the cast.
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