'Homeland' Producers on Being Obama's Favorite Show, Shooting Season 2 in Israel
Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, who took home a Peabody award for the Showtime drama, spoke to THR about their series and its highest-profile fan.
Tick off the list of impressive accomplishments already achieved by Homeland in after its inaugural ten episodes: the Showtime CIA drama earned a Golden Globe, multiple shoutouts from President Obama and, at Monday's ceremony in New York, a Peabody.
Not a bad first season at all.
The show, which features Claire Danes as a manic CIA intelligence officer and Damian Lewis as a former prisoner of war who may or may not have been turned into a terrorist, was one of a number of scripted series honored at the prestigious electronic media awards given by the University of Georgia. Following the presentation, co-executive producers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about their whirlwind year -- and what they have planned for a second go-round.
The Hollywood Reporter: Not only do you have a Peabody, but yours is the President's favorite show. How did you react when you found out?
Alex Gansa: We heard it anecedotally first.
Howard Gordon: I heard it from Claire Danes, who heard it from a friend of hers who dated Obama's speechwriter. And we were like, 'oh yeah yeah, we've heard that before.' Actually, we'd never heard that before, but we were dismissing it, but then the Rolling Stone article came out.
Gansa: I think it was Elle at first.
Gordon: And then it was Oprah.
Gansa: It happened like multiple times. I think that story brewed, and he was asked about it. He stumped for us. He should be on the payroll, he's been amazing.
THR: Now do you go back and watch it and worry about the way the foreign policy and government is portrayed?
Gordon: You know, we're hoping he doesn't take it too seriously [laughs]. But we do have a framed photograph on the wall of the Rolling Stone cover and Obama's quotes. So it greets us as we enter and exit our story room.
THR: Obviously you have a story written, a plot running through that I'm sure you figured before you even got to the second season--
Gordon: Don't be so sure [laughing].
THR: How much do real foreign affairs impact what happens on the show?
Gordon: Quite a bit, actually. And in the second season you'll see even more so. We're really looking at where the world is, what's happening in the Middle East right now, and that's going to be a major departure point from the first season.
THR: Maybe the Arab Spring?
Gansa: It's actually incredible to have Al-Jazeera appear and see all those clips of what's going on there and try to sort of dramatize that, those those events on the ground in our show.
THR: And you're shooting in Israel this season?
Gordon: Yeah, I just got back last night.
THR: How was it?
Gordon: It was remarkable. The show is based on an Israeli format, which was only incidental to the fact that we actually have Israeli partners that were production partners on this, and we doubled it as Beirut.
THR: Was it mostly just exteriors?
Gordon: No no, real -- large portions of next year [will be set there].
THR: What I think a lot of people like about this show is that it's morally ambiguous, you're rooting for these rogue agents against the government. Do you get involved with the politics at all or do you try to stay away from that and make it mostly a story about people?
Gansa: We're fairly rigorous about staying agnostic politically, just asking and posing the questions rather than answering them. That said, if you look at it, there is a sense that this country may be engaged in a perpetual war right now. The rise of the surveillance state in the United States. These are all questions that we want to pose and ask: what is our safety worth?
THR: Claire's character is bipolar; do you get a lot of feedback from the mental health community about how you portrayed it?
Gordon: I think by and large, the people have really appreciated hers and our portrayal of that.
THR: What can we expect from season two?
Gordon: Season two is going to start about five or six months after season one ended. Carrie will not be in the intelligence service, and the world will be at a boiling point.
THR: Will there be any new enemies or will it be on the same arc?
Gordon: There will be some new antagonists, definitely.