It is destiny that Homeland’s Elizabeth Marvel is playing a US president while the #MeToo movement turns the old world on its head,
Elizabeth Marvel is mad as hell and is not going to take it any more. The 48-year-old actor is having a fist-pump moment after the rise of the #MeToo movement and the downfall of predatory men in Hollywood, including former House Of Cards co-star Kevin Spacey.
Marvel is playing US President Elizabeth Keane in the seventh season of Homeland
— the embodiment of a powerful woman.
But in real life Marvel has experienced a range of inappropriate behaviour that is being called out by everyone from Rose McGowan to Uma Thurman to Natalie Portman.
“I am so deeply grateful that it is happening,” Marvel says. “Like any social change it is messy and it is complicated and it is hard and it is painful and it takes time.
“I feel like we are in the very early baby steps — but the thing that is so amazing is that the conversation is happening and that behaviour that has been so long tolerated, finally collectively women are able to say, ‘Enough — no more’.
“I have experienced a ‘eureka’ awakening of looking back on things of, ‘Oh my god, I laughed at that joke’ or ‘I smiled and walked away from that situation’ and realising that is not acceptable.”
Spacey has had a spectacular fall from grace. He was dumped from House Of Cards, and redacted from movie All the Money In the World after allegations that in 1986 he made advances to a 14-year-old boy, Anthony Rapp, who later starred in Star Trek: Discovery.
Marvel played Democrat candidate Heather Dunbar on House of Cards.
“When you are dealing with sexual predation — full-on predatory behaviour — it is criminal,” Marvel says. “It is not acceptable and it is important that anyone exhibiting that behaviour is held to account.”
Season 6 of Homeland ended with a failed assassination attempt on Keane, who then had upwards of 200 people — who she believed to be conspirators — detained.
As season seven starts, former CIA operative and adviser to Keane, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), is back in Washington and wants to take on the Keane regime, which seems on the brink of dictatorship. One of the people arrested was Mathison’s former boss, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin).
“Elizabeth is in a state of deep and intense paranoia and justifiably so, because people really are out to get her,” Marvel says. “She has to begin by dominating the playing field. She has to take control of her power again as the leader of the free world — but it is a very slippery slope from dominance to tyranny.
“Working with Claire is fantastic. She sets the tone for the whole show.”
Marvel says she researched different politicians when it came to creating Keane. Is there also a bit of current US President Donald Trump in there?
“In America we have an unrepentant misogynist running the country who is paranoid ... a lot of his aggression is aimed at women and minorities,” Marvel says. “That is where the personalities are very different.
“I get a lot of very positive feedback (about Keane). It is such a great moment to be playing a female president.
“But it is also important to play someone who is flawed and not just some sort of female superhero.
“What I would like viewers to ask themselves this season is would they be responding the same way to my character if it was a man doing the things Keane is doing.”
Misogyny is at the heart of the rise of the #MeToo movement but Marvel is confident things are changing.
“I have a young son (Silas Camp) and I look at the state of the world and it fills me with so much anxiety for him and his generation,” she says. “Yet there is social change happening like #MeToo that is deeply encouraging and it reminds me progress is being made.”
WATCH HOMELAND, SBS, Friday, 8.30pm
“FINALLY, WOMEN ARE ABLE TO SAY, ‘ENOUGH — NO MORE”
HOMELAND STAR ELIZABETH MARVEL IS GRATEFUL THE #METOO MOVEMENT IS FINALLY HAPPENING.