Original article at WSJ
Damian Lewis and Claire Danes in a scene from “Homeland.”On the new hit Showtime drama “Homeland,” actor Damian Lewis plays U.S. Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody, a former POW suffering from a serious case of post-traumatic stress disorder following eight years of captivity in Afghanistan. Brody, who may or may not be working for al Qaeda, is being covertly followed by a paranoid CIA agent played by Claire Danes, as the series explores complicated issues such as the price of freedom, the psychological scars of war, and the post-9/11 limits on privacy.
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“I enjoyed the contradiction that someone who’s a hero in the nation’s eyes could be that person. That’s a thrilling premise for any show,” says Lewis. “It’s not just about the CIA catching terrorists. It’s a character piece about multiple complex issues, like identity on a political, national and spiritual faith-based ideological level and mental frailties, and how one reconnects with family. As fun as it is to just just be in a thriller I was intrigued that it wanted to tell a broader story.”
His character, Sgt. Nick Brody, has come back to a wife who thought he was dead and has taken up with his buddy (Diego Klattenhoff). “It’s overwhelming for both of them and I’m glad we’re addressing that in a serious way,” notes Lewis. Other plot elements show him behaving erratically and resisting the Marine Corps’ wishes for him to be a poster boy for heroism and re-enlist, all the while being watched on planted surveillance cameras by CIA case officer Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), who’s convinced he’s hiding something (one of the rather unexpected things he’s hiding is revealed at the end of the second episode).
Lewis, last seen on American TV in the NBC series “Life,” about a wrongly incarcerated cop who returns to the force after years in prison, sees similarities between that role and his current one, noting that both are about men held captive for a long time and return from the experience changed men. But “Homeland” being a cable show, there are certain differences. “I show my ass a lot more,” he laughs. Cable also doesn’t require the seven-year contracts common in network television. “That’s more problematic from a family point of view, because we’re not going to go live in L.A. for seven years,” he explains. “I told my agent, ‘If a great cable show comes along, let me know.’ I’m so lucky this one did.”
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