“Homeland” is coming to an end and the show’s cast and crew are looking back on the surprise hit series.
With the eighth and final season premiering Feb. 9, The Hollywood Reporter has star Claire Danes on the cover of its new issue.
“Three episodes in, people were literally running out of stores, charging me with enthusiasm,” the actress says recalling the show’s early days. “I’d never experienced that before. ‘My So-Called Life’ had this amazingly rich afterlife but there wasn’t that appreciation as it was airing…There were parodies on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and in MAD magazine. That’s a real sign that you’ve made it, getting roasted. There was a porn made about us.”
Co-star Mandy Patinkin agreed, recalling the phenomenon of the show after it premiered in 2011.
“I had never seen anything like that first season,” he says. “But nothing is ever like the first time. It’s never that good again. The art of living is trying to keep it good enough.”
The show also managed to pick up some pretty impressive fans, including Barack Obama.
“Donald Trump and others on the right were peddling this idea that Obama was born in Kenya, so I had this season-1 DVD and, tongue in cheek, I wrote him a note [It read, ‘From one Muslim to another’] …It was a very British thing to do, but it festered,” actor Damian Lewis recalls. “Two weeks later, I emailed [White House Press Secretary] Jay Carney, ‘Please tell me that the president got my joke!’ Jay said, ‘Yeah, he got it. Everything’s cool.’”
Series creator Alex Gansa also talks about how the show changed in its depiction of the Muslim world after being accused of peddling Islamophobia.
“I was on the plane, going to Germany to film a terrorist attack on a Berlin train station when the  Paris attacks happened. That was the lowest point of the show for me,” Gansa remembers.
Danes adds, “There was always some parallel like that — but the bombings and shootings in Paris, that’s what made me jumpy. I didn’t know that we were always going to be mirroring current events so directly, that that would be such a part of the DNA of the show.”
“So it’s just days later, and we were down in this abandoned subway with a bunch of Muslim actors wondering what the f**k we were doing,” Gansa continues.
“We talked about it, had a moment for the people who had been lost,” says director and producer Lesli Linka Glatter. “It was very important for everyone to be aware and take care of one another.”
Gansa adds, “Because the actors were like, ‘Why are we doing this? Are we perpetuating the stereotypes?’ Even though the hero of that particular story was a Muslim guy who stopped the attack, it was happening right next door, and it was still so raw.”
Patinkin also says, “I’m not an idiot. I know terrorism and violence sells. That’s never going to change. I just want to bring the narrative of the polar opposite to at least move to a halfway point.”
Finally, Danes takes a moment to reflect on “Homeland” coming to an end and what’s in store for her.
“We were so much about reflecting what was happening, politically, in the moment. How that ages, how we perceived it and what that exposes, in 10 years’ time, will be compelling to see,” she says. “I need this last season released into the world before it really ends for me, and then I’m sure I’ll surface eventually. It’s going to be a long process of seeing who I am as an actor out of this show — which has defined me for so long. I don’t know where to start, but I should play somebody decidedly sane.”