Aussie actor Miranda Otto’s latest role as Allison Carr, the CIA’s Berlin station chief, in hit US series Homeland is a far cry from her highest-profile character of warrior princess Éowyn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Allison is just as stoic, but far more real.
Otto, 47, joins Homeland alongside multi-award winners Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin as the focus of the show moves to Berlin in season five.
What drew you to the role? It’s a great role. I got very lucky on this one. It’s so hard to think of what I can tell you and what I can’t (she jokes, CIA-style, ‘it’s classified’). She’s career driven, on a fantastic trajectory. Someone was asking me ‘is she type A?’ I think to work in this business (the CIA) they pretty much have to be kind of type A. She’s very much on the front foot and she’s ballsy, definitely. She is very in control and very, sure of what she’s doing.
Is it hard to join a show like Homeland in season five when the core cast and success is well established? It’s a little daunting coming to work with actors that you respect so much. At the beginning it’s a little disarming. But at the same time, coming onto a show that is already running is brilliant because people know the show really well. Working on a show when you are still trying to discover it along with the audience can be tough.
Homeland is being shot entirely in Berlin this season — why? Berlin is such a great backdrop for the show. I love the way they went to Cape Town last year for that season, because the show is so international. But I think about movies like The Bourne Identity, and when they shot in Europe there was something so great about that. There is something — so much history of espionage in Europe. And then in Berlin there is not only the history but how Berlin is today — how vibrant and interesting and politically at the centre of Europe. Sadly my German is almost non-existent.
How does that work with family (husband Peter O’Brien and daughter, Darcey, 10) in LA? As actors we are accustomed to moving around, and it’s always great to live and work in a city — you feel; like you are truly living a life there. The commitment to the show is five to six months, we started in June, I’m home in LA this week, we’ll finish around the end of November. My daughter was on school holidays for a time so that was great — the family was there (in Berlin) then.
Acting is in your blood (Otto is the daughter of actors Barry and Lindsay Otto, and the sister of Gracie Otto), so what does Darcey want to be when she grows up? Who knows what she’ll be? If she wants to be an actor of course I’d be for it. I keep trying to show her the cold hard truth of the acting profession, but I think I was the same ... you always have stars in your eyes.
Is there someone you’d love to play? Hillary Clinton. What a woman, she is fantastic, Like, God, what a life, what an intellect and what savvy.
HOMELAND, CHANNEL 10, MONDAY, 9.30PM