homeland creator alex gansa talks season 3 moviescope

Homeland Creator Alex Gansa Talks Season 3 – movieScope

Homeland Creator Alex Gansa Talks Season 3

With TV dramas enjoying an unprecedented popularity, Homeland, which stars Claire Danes as an FBI agent struggling to maintain national security, is leading the pack. As Season Two comes to DVD and Blu-ray, and with Season Three currently showing in the UK and US, the show’s creator and executive producer Alex Gansa takes us behind the scenes of this award-winning drama. Interview: Nikki Baughan

Homeland is an adaptation of Gideon Raff’s Israeli series Prisoners of War. How did you first come across it, and how did you make it relevant to the American experience?

I first heard about Prisoners of War from Howard Gordon, my friend and writing partner. Rick Rosen, our agent, initially approached Howard about adapting the story for American audiences, and Howard felt like it would be a great project for us to do together. We thought the Israeli source material had great potential, but we realised early in the process that some elements of the story would not register in the same way with American audiences. In Israel, the tragic saga of a POW’s family is familiar and accessible, but there are no clear analogues in the American experience. Once we started thinking about Brody as a Manchurian Candidate type character, we saw the opportunity to create a psychological thriller. Through Carrie and Brody we found a way to explore the complexity of America 10 years after 9/11.

One of the show’s most intriguing characteristics is ambiguity; Brody’s true intentions, Carrie’s sanity being painted in shades of grey. Is this reflective of feeling a decade after 9/11?

Absolutely. Many of us look back on some of the decisions the US made after 9/11 and wonder if we’ve gone too far. That’s exactly the dilemma that Saul and Carrie face on a daily basis: a perpetual sense of doubt that the decisions we make might subvert our intentions. While the CIA had virtual carte blanche after 9/11, actions of intelligence professionals are now under heavy scrutiny. In many ways, cynicism has diluted our sense of fear.

Homeland deals with very deep themes like international politics and religion. How do you ensure a wide audience is never alienated, and do you have official advisors assisting with plot details?

At its heart, Homeland is a psychological thriller. So while our characters encounter complex, morally challenging questions, they don’t have the luxury of dwelling in the moment. I think that cat-and-mouse game is what keeps the audience engaged. We care about getting the details right, and do a significant amount of research in the writers’ office. In fact, we like to joke that we’ve Googled so many sensitive topics that we’ve probably been flagged for some kind of terrorist watch list. Fortunately when we get stuck, we have a number of advisors at the CIA and FBI, mental health professionals, and representatives from Muslims on Screen and Television.

What can we expect from Season Three, now that Brody is on the run after the devastating attack on the CIA?

You can expect the same intensity, but the focus will be different. Brody has disappeared into Carrie’s underground network, and he won’t make an appearance in the first couple of episodes. When we see him, he’ll be in a state that our viewers should find interesting. Saul is the acting director of the CIA, but after the attack on Langley, the Agency’s very existence is threatened. Carrie will be back in the thick of things, but this season her relationship with Saul will be strained to the breaking point.

Homeland Season Two is out now on Blu-ray and DVD from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Homeland Season Three is now showing on BBC2 in the UK and Showtime in the USA

Read the full interview in movieScope magazine, Issue 36 (October-December 2013)