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Homeland – Damian Lewis on his anxiety in the second season

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Homeland 2.01 - Damian Lewis
Homeland 2.01 - Nicholas "Nick" Brody (Damian Lewis) ©2012 Showtime, photo by Kent Smith

Loosely based on the Israeli series Hatufim, Showtime’s successful drama Homeland returns for a second season this month. The first season spotlighted Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a CIA operations officer who is convinced that returning hero Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a US Marine Sergeant who was held as a prisoner-of-war by Al-Qaeda, has been brainwashed by the enemy and is now a national security risk.

What can we look forward to this season? I spoke with Damian Lewis about his mysterious and complex character.

What can we expect of Brody this season?

Homeland, Season 2 - Premiere: Damian Lewis and Claire Danes
Actors Damian Lewis and Claire Danes attend the Showtime and Time Warner Cable hosted premiere screening and reception to launch the second season of “Homeland” at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on September 7, 2012 in New York City ©2012 Showtime

Brody made a mission statement at the end of the first season saying he wanted a nonviolent political subversion of American policy.

He would like to think he’s in control of his own destiny. He absolutely won’t be is my prediction for this season, and I think he will live in a state of heightened anxiety, paranoia and uncertainty.

The first season he was a man just trying to reenter civilian life. There was a degree of damage which elicited some sympathy from the audience but, at the same time, he also was the menace. People were terrified of him.

What are you memories of shooting The Weekend episode, where Brody and Carrie get intimate with one another?

Homeland, Season 2 - Poster: Damian Lewis and Claire Danes
Nicholas “Nick” Brody (Damian Lewis) in the poster and Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) ©2012 Showtime

I think it came to be regarded as a pivotal sequence in last season. And I think (Executive Producers)  Alex (Gansa) and Howard (Gordon) have tried to create a similar pivotal moment in Season 2.

It’s of a very different nature, where Carrie very much has the upper hand, but it’s less romantically inclined than professionally inclined. But it’s just as complex and strange.

Were you relieved when you found out Brody wasn’t going to blow himself up at the end of last season?

I was relieved that he didn’t blow himself up. In terms of surviving and being around with the lovely people [on the series] for another season, it was an enormous relief.

You were invited to a White House state dinner. Can you tell us about that?

Homeland 2.02 - Damian Lewis and Jamey Sheridan
Homeland 2.02 – Nicholas “Nick” Brody (Damian Lewis) and the Vice President of the United States, William Walden (Jamey Sheridan) ©2012 Showtime

It was as much of a shock to me as it was to everyone else that I was on that invitation list.

It was a British state visit with David Cameron to see the President, who happened to have Homeland as his favorite show on TV at the time. I’m a Brit playing an American part, and I kind of ticked a lot of the boxes.

It was fantastic talking to him about [the series].

Why do you feel the show has been so successful?

Homeland 2.02 - Damian Lewis and Morena Baccarin
Homeland 2.02 – Nicholas “Nick” Brody (Damian Lewis) and Jessica Brody (Morena Baccarin) ©2012 Showtime

Any good show finds a context and a narrative with which to ask more serious questions, and this seems to be asking all sorts of questions, in my view.

Carrie represents a broken, slightly hobbling west at the moment. Your country is rebuilding itself, as is mine. The glory years are gone. But she represents the best hope.

Brody represents a strong anti-war message, the effects of war on any individual, how that can poison an individual and the poison people around him.

So there are bigger stories. Can a nation commit acts of terrorism? Do you believe they can? Do they? Do we? How do we perpetrate our war on terror? Is it justified? It goes on and on. It’s a good show, isn’t it?

Homeland returns for a second season with the Season Premiere on Sunday, September 30 at 10 PM ET/PT