Sea­son three of Home­land has proved a phys­i­cal and men­tal mine­field for Claire Danes, re­ports Anooska Tucker- Evans

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - HOME­LAND TDT, Mon­day, 8.30pm

There ain’t noth­ing like a

IT was a sur­pris­ingly ap­pre­hen­sive Claire Danes who re­turned to the set of US hit drama Home­land for its third sea­son. This, de­spite the fact that for the past two years Danes has cap­ti­vated au­di­ences and crit­ics alike with her por­trayal of the in­cred­i­bly in­tel­li­gent and highly- volatile bipo­lar CIA agent Car­rie Mathi­son, win­ning a string of Emmy and Golden Globe awards.

But af­ter play­ing a more sta­ble ver­sion of Car­rie in the sec­ond sea­son, Danes, mum to nine- month- old son Cyrus, says tak­ing her char­ac­ter back to a manic state was some­thing she felt un­easy about as she ap­proached sea­son three. “I was ner­vous about it,” she re­veals. “I was also a brand- spank­ing new mum, and feel­ing like I could not have been in a more an­ti­thet­i­cal mode. I was so grounded and soft and cushy and in my lit­tle eu­phoric mummy bub­ble. And then I had to go to the very other end of the spec­trum.”

As the third se­ries be­gins, Car­rie is again off her meds as she tries to deal with the shock bomb­ing by Abu Nazir ( Navid Ne­gah­ban) at the end of last sea­son, which killed CIA boss David Estes ( David Hare­wood) and mul­ti­ple agents. With her lover Ni­cholas Brody ( Damian Lewis) claim­ing he was framed for the ter­ror­ist at­tack and on the run, Car­rie is left try­ing to pick up the pieces.

“She feels hugely re­spon­si­ble for this dev­as­tat­ing loss and is con­vinced that had she not been on the meds she would have had all of her men­tal fac­ul­ties and been able to an­tic­i­pate Nazir’s moves and thwart this hor­ri­ble de­sign and at­tack,” Danes says.

In fact, Danes had to take Car­rie be­yond the men­tal depths she de­scended to in sea­son one, and into a darker place than she’d ever been be­fore.

“I saw a trailer for this sea­son and I was just struck by how mourn­ful the tone is,” Danes says.

“She’s more iso­lated and more sort of dis­il­lu­sioned than she’s ever been. It’s re­ally up­set­ting. She’s very es­tranged.

In this show it’s fair to say that every­body’s fair game to be blown up at any given mo­ment

“In the be­gin­ning of the sec­ond sea­son she was es­tranged from her job, and here she no longer has her lover, her men­tor, she’s re­ally in the cor­ner.”

Achiev­ing this level of bipo­lar ma­nia and mak­ing it be­liev­able for au­di­ences is some­thing Danes says she worked hard at.

The ac­tor read books, spoke to her psy­chol­o­gist friends and watched video diaries of bipo­lar pa­tients on YouTube.

“There is a lot of ma­te­rial online a lot of videos of peo­ple with the con­di­tion talk­ing about their ex­pe­ri­ence and of­ten they’re in manic states be­cause they are up in the mid­dle of the night and I think they just need to talk to some­one [ and] there’s no one to talk to so they put the cam­era on them­selves,” she says.

“To have that vis­ual aid and to be able to re­ally see and hear what that is like is es­sen­tial, so I binged on a lot of those videos.”

Play­ing the role so in­tensely, Danes says she felt like she got a con­tact high and was able to re­late in some small way to how bipo­lar pa­tients might feel.

“There’s no way of re­ally sim­u­lat­ing it but, I don’t know, I can kind of imag­ine the thrill of it,” she says. “But those days when I have to play manic, manic, manic, I am pretty pooped by the end of it.”

Car­rie’s con­di­tion can work for and against her in the show, get­ting her into trou­ble, but also lead­ing to mo­ments of bril­liance. It’s this dou­ble- edged- sword Danes loves about the se­ries.

“Manic states do al­low, at a cer­tain point on the con­tin­uum, for ex­cep­tional think­ing,” she says.

“You kind of can achieve this su­per­hu­man state, but only for a very fi nite pe­riod and it’s not long be­fore it dis­solves into a chaotic jum­ble. But she is hop­ing to main­tain it for as long as pos­si­ble so she can save the world.”

So will the trou­bled hero save the planet this sea­son or die try­ing?

“[ Car­rie’s death], it’s al­ways a pos­si­bil­ity,” Danes says.

“In this show it’s fair to say that every­body’s fair game to be blown up at any given mo­ment. I’m just go­ing to en­joy the craft ser­vices while they last.”

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