September 10, 2012 8:20am PT by Jordan Zakarin
'Homeland' Season Two Preview and Claire Danes' Bipolar Research (Video)
Claire Danes won a Golden Globe and is up for an Emmy Award for her performance in the first season of the Showtime drama Homeland, but the case could be made that she deserved two nominations for each trophy for her work on the show.
Danes plays troubled CIA agent Carrie Mathison, who, when the first season opens, is back on the job chasing down terrorists after a post-9/11 mental breakdown. As she becomes obsessed with her theory that a returning POW has been turned into an undercover terrorist, her bipolar disorder helps push her ever closer to the truth, and back to the mental hospital. It is truly a dual role, one that switches on a dime between lead in a spy thriller and center of a psychodrama, and beyond awards, also gifted her with warm feedback from those battling bipolar disorder in real life.
"I took that assignment on very seriously," she told The Hollywood Reporter at her show's second season premiere on Friday. "The more I learned about the condition, the more respect I had for people who struggle with it, and just in no way that I want to misrepresent them. So I felt quite relieved when I got positive feedback from people in that community."
As season one ends, Carrie, broken and removed from her post at the CIA, submits in desperation to electroconvulsive therapy, which involves electric shocks being administered to her temples to induce seizures. That also required some research, and some creative decision-making.
"I found that it’s a surprisingly effective form of treatment, actually," Danes said. "There are some potential side effects, some usually short term memory loss. We decided that she didn’t suffer too excessively from that, which is conceivable."
And so, the second season opens up months after the treatment, with a somewhat different version of Carrie -- at least at first.
"She’s in a better place. She’s sort of stabilized, and cocooned herself at her sister’s house, who’s looking after her," Danes offered. "She’s gone through a full course of therapy and she’s taken more responsibility for her condition and really committed herself to being well.
"And then of course, just as she’s managing that, she gets the call, and that is ruptured, that relative health," she continued. "And she goes, fairly begrudgingly, and then gets intoxicated again, and realizes that she’s going to have to find a way to reconcile her bipolar condition with her love for her work."
Homeland Season Two premieres on Showtime on September 30.