Claire Danes has participated in an array of various film projects over the years, but she is known best for her work on the small screen. From “My So-Called Life” to “Temple Grandin” to her current run in Showtime’s “Homeland,” Danes has been defined by her work on television and the ways she’s stretched herself to her characters needs.
While she was in Los Angeles for the 2013 Emmy Awards, Danes sat down with Dustin Hoffman for a chat that was just released in Interview magazine. Hoffman seemed incredibly interested in the way Danes delved into her characters, be it playing someone bipolar in “Homeland” or autistic in “Temple Grandin.” For “Homeland’s” Carrie Mathison, Danes says it’s helped her to age with the character over three season.
“She seemed completely alien to me — completely other. She still does in some ways, but I’ve spent a lot of time with her now,” Danes explains. “Because she is so different from who I am, she is that much more enjoyable — and, in some ways, easier — to play. Carrie can be manic. Last season, she was pretty consistently medicated, so there were no episodes where she was really spiraling out, but those scenes are kind of fun to play.”
Interestingly enough, it wasn’t originally the plan for Carrie to end up being as bipolar as her character ultimately is on “Homeland.” Carrie’s struggles between balancing her disorder with her work have been a constant source of conflict on the show, but Danes credits the idea to make her bipolar to Showtime.
“I actually think it was a suggestion that came from Showtime because Carrie was already a fairly exaggerated, edgy person,” she says. “I think [executive producer] Alex Gansa has said that they had kind of written Carrie as bipolar without even knowing it, and then they found the diagnosis.”
Danes also says that she can’t resist watching “My So-Called Life” when it comes on television because of the way it’s impacted her life and the lives of others.
“It was a strange, cult thing where we didn’t even do a full season, but the episodes that we did do got picked up and were rerun by a bunch of different cable networks, so the show was on for years and years and years — and was discovered by different generations, which was extraordinary,” she says. “I guess I knew it was special back then, too, but it was my first big gig, so I had no sense of context. … But that was wild because I was the same age as the character, and there was an incredible symmetry between us — unlike Carrie Mathison, who in no way resembles me. I would be the worst case officer on the planet. I am so ill suited to Carrie’s vocation. But Angela Chase was just another high school student.”
“Homeland” airs Sundays on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET.