'Homeland' star Claire Danes on playing bipolar: 'I gorged on manic confessionals on YouTube'

claire-danes-homeland-bipolar.jpg"Homeland" star Claire Danes just won a Golden Globe and is up for an Emmy Sunday (Sept. 23) for her remarkable portrayal of a CIA operative who suffers from bipolar disorder.

"I had to do a lot of research for this role," the actress said Sept. 19 on NPR's Morning Edition.

And she looked to a surprising source for inspiration.

"I found great material on YouTube," Danes revealed. "There was a lot of footage of people who recorded themselves when they were in manic states. I think they were probably up in the middle of the night and lonely and, you know, needed to talk. So they talked to the camera. So I gorged on sort of manic confessionals on YouTube."

"Watching the expressions and mannerisms and cadences" of the video subjects was very helpful in portraying her character's condition, Dane said. "They talk at a very fast clip."

"But," she adds, "it's not a strictly unpleasant phenomenon. A lot of people are reluctant to treat themselves because they're so protective of those manic highs."

Noting that Temple Grandin, whom she played in an HBO biopic, doesn't view her autism as a detriment, the actress said, "There are advantages to seeing the world from a different perspective."

In fact, Danes' character on the Showtime thriller, Carrie Mathison, made a significant breakthrough in her case during a manic phase -- followed by a career-destroying breakdown.

"I think it's risky and dangerous if left untreated," said Danes about the illness. "But there are certain insights you can have that are extraordinary."

"The problem is [that people with bipolar disorder] can make these leaps of logic, these wild epiphanies, but it can very quickly disintegrate into chaos."

And severe depression, which in "Homeland" ultimately led to Carrie's being treated with ECT in her last scene of the season.

Season 2 of "Homeland" debuts Sunday, Sept. 30 at 10 p.m. on Showtime.
Photo/Video credit: Showtime
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