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The cast and crew were working on their second episode of Showtime’s Homeland when Osama Bin Laden was killed.
Executive producer Howard Gordon remembers getting on the phone with Showtime chief David Nevins and his co-producer Alex Gansa that night asking, what it means for the series. The timing of the show, which will premiere nearly a month after the 10th anniversary of 9/11, is at once “significant, accidental and fortuitous,” said Gordon, noting that other recent events, including Osama Bin Laden’s death, will impact the way this series is viewed.
To hear Gordon (24) tell it, the small screen has yet to explore the price of 9/11 on this country the way their Showtime effort plans to. The Claire Danes vehicle, Homeland, will center on a CIA officer (Danes) and a returning war hero (Damian Lewis) whose loyalty is in question.
“24 existed in a real post-9/11 world and Jack Bauer was an action hero,” he added. “In response to that, 10 years later things have become deeper and more complex and the heart of this show is really show psychological: How America is dealing with that 10-year period.”
Danes, whom the script was written for, acknowledges that she hasn’t found scripts that feature characters that are as compelling or layered in the film world. “I just gravitate to the most interesting work and this was impossible to ignore,” she said, with co-star Lewis nodding in agreement.
Added executive producer Gansa, “One of things that movies can’t do is offer stories like this the breath and scope that they deserve,” noting that in a couple of hours you can’t really tell “the complexities and grayness and just the breadth of a story about terrorism.”
Over the course of a series, he argued, “you really get the chance to explore and delve into different purviews of intelligence and terrorism and the issues facing this country right now.”
Of course, neither of the series’ stars or the executive producers would have signed on as willingly had the story been made for broadcast television.
After Danes waxed on about the creative freedoms of working in cable, Gordon jumped in. “This is an intensely, deeply serialized drama and on a normal broadcast schedule it’s an impossible task and you wind up vamping,” he said, admitting that he’s still exausted from the grueling 24-episode schedule of 24.
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