Golden Globe winner Claire Danes first found fame on the small screen, and now, nearly 20 years after My So-Called life, the actress is back on TV with an Emmy-winning role in Homeland.
The drama, which pits Danes’ government security officer against Damien Lewis’ MIA soldier, with Mandy Patinkin as Saul, her boss and mentor, starts its first series on OSN on Tuesday August 28, although the show is in its second season in the US.
The actress, who recently announced she was pregnant with her first child by husband Hugh Dancy, plays CIA officer Carrie Anderson, who becomes convinced that the intelligence that led to the rescue of Scott Brody (Lewis) a US soldier who had been missing and presumed deal for nine years, was a setup and may be connected to an Al Qaeda plot to be carried out on American soil.
“She is incredibly bright, at times dangerously bright, and formidable and focused, even compulsive, even myopic,” says Danes of her unconventional character.
“But she’s also very, very sensitive and vulnerable. And that juxtaposition is interesting.”
QUESTION: We’re seeing a situation now where the movies are very, very good for actors if you want to play a giant cockroach and put on a fat suit. And it seems that for the serious drama, like things about Iraq and terrorism, the actors are having to turn to TV. Why is TV doing this when the movies seem to have turned their back on it?
CLAIRE DANES: You know, it’s a great, incredibly valid question. I don’t think I have the answer. I can’t answer to the theory of that, but it is true that it’s I have not read a character this compelling in a movie script in quite some time. And I just gravitate to the most interesting work, and, you know, this was impossible to ignore. So, you know, I think there are a lot of essays to write about why television is such fertile territory for drama right now and why audiences have tolerance and appreciation of drama in that medium and in that context, but...
I would say, too, that just in my experience as a viewer of television, I’ve started watching TV in bulk. You know, I watch I watch it on DVD, or I record it. And I watch television like I read a novel, which is similar to what you’re saying. It’s a different game, different experience.
QUESTION: How many episodes of this are there this season?
CLAIRE DANES: 13 in total for this season, same as last.
QUESTION: If you’d gotten the same role and it was 22 episode run, much more gruelling, much more commitment, would you still have been interested in the part?
CLAIRE DANES: Well, I mean, I think there’s just so much liberty that one has in cable. You get to curse a lot. You get to get naked a lot. So no, I think that that’s more appealing than the relatively moderate work hours. It’s just the creative flexibility.
QUESTION: You were saying that this was another great character, like Temple Grandin. Why do you like this character? What is it about her that compels you?
CLAIRE DANES: Well, she is incredibly bright, at times dangerously bright, and formidable and focused, even compulsive, even myopic. But she’s also very, very sensitive and vulnerable. And that juxtaposition is interesting. And she’s actually, my roommate — my first roommate in college was a CIA officer for a little while. And she’s the most innocuous, benign person, of course. And so I was telling her that I was going to play this role. “I’m going to play a CIA officer, and she’s bipolar.” And her immediate response was “Oh, she sounds very isolated. That’s a lonely character.” And I was like, “Yep.” And she is.
QUESTION: What have been the pros and cons of filming in Charlotte?
CLAIRE DANES: It’s hot.
QUESTION: I guess what we know you for initially would be My So Called Life. Can you compare the current experience to how different it is from those early projects of yours in terms of what you had to do and how you were being treated and what you’ve learned?
CLAIRE DANES: Well, I mean, I was 14 when I did My So Called Life. So it was a very different experience. I’m not breaking out as much as I was then. That’s a relief. You know, I’m not being tutored. I don’t also have to get a high school degree, but no. It feels similar in that it’s really smart, and I’m surrounded by incredibly gifted, dedicated people and artists, dare I say. So, yeah, I’m very inspired by the company that I’m keeping and the quality of the material.
QUESTION: Just a clarification. She’s bipolar, but she’s on an antipsychotic?
CLAIRE DANES: She responds very well to the meds.
QUESTION: Do you mind if I ask you a question about My So Called Life?
CLAIRE DANES: Sure.
QUESTION: All right. So I remember covering, believe it or not, the story when that show was cancelled, and at the time, there were certain ABC executives who insisted to not be identified in saying that the real reason the show was being cancelled was because you and/or your parents sort of didn’t want to go on with another season, which may seem logical. You were 14 years old. It was an intense show. There was a sort of pushing of part of the blame towards you guys. Do you remember back then? Were you devastated by the cancellation? Was that just network executives being network executives and blaming the victim?
CLAIRE DANES: You know, honestly, I don’t really remember, but the history of the show was I mean, it was always kind of troubled. Like, the pilot didn’t get picked up. Then, six months later, it did, you know. We only shot 19 episodes. And then it was cancelled, and then there was a possibility of it getting, you know, remounted. And so it was very back and forth, and, yeah, I can’t assume responsibility. I think that, you know, a 14 year old girl is not going to determine the fate of a network show.
QUESTION: Have you watched the show at all in 20 years?
CLAIRE DANES: No. My father in law was staying with me it was just us in the house, and I was wrapping Christmas presents, and he said, “Would you mind if I watch your show?” “No, not while I’m in the room.” No, I haven’t seen it, but I mean, they are both lovely, lovely men. I don’t think she would have ended up with either.
QUESTION: Beyond Temple Grandin, you’ve been seen a lot on TV lately on the eyelash ads for Latisse. Do you have any feeling about those ads still being on the air with that image with this coming on the air?
CLAIRE DANES: I’m going to trap those terrorists with my very long lashes.
Don’t miss it
Homeland season 1 begins on August 28 at 10pm on OSN First HD and OSN First.