Cast and crew on Showtime hit talk fake news, keeping things fresh at Los Angeles panel.
The election of Donald Trump and the arrival of fake news in the national dialogue changed the course of Homeland.
“I will say that the election of Donald Trump made us all sit up in our chairs in the story room,” showrunner and executive producer Alex Gansa (pictured second from left) told an audience during a panel session at NeueHouse in West Hollywood on Monday night.
“Around episode five or six [of Season Six] when the election happened, we realised that we were going to have to adjust and change the narrative a little bit.”
Gansa was speaking on Homeland’s FYC panel, the Television Academy’s first of the awards season where he was joined by fellow executive producer Lesli Linka Glatter and cast members Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend and Elizabeth Marvel.
“The first thing we wanted to address was this idea that there was something going on, that our election was influenced by another force and by fake news, which struck us as a very right topic to construct a story around,” Gansa said.
The showrunner explained how the character of Brett O’Keefe, played by Jake Weber and based on right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, rose in stature after the election and sparked a peculiar run-in with the radio host.
“The minute [O’Keefe] was revealed, the real Alex Jones went on a tirade, accusing Homeland of stealing his identity and challenged Jake Weber to a fist fight,” Gansa said. “What he doesn’t know is Jake Weber has been a boxer for 30 years.”
Commenting on the nature of Homeland and its ever-changing identity, Glatter (pictured second from right) said: “I think what makes Homeland so unique is that we reinvent the show every season. We ask ourselves, ‘How does this never get easier?’
“It’s because we never do the same show, or come back to the same sets or even subject matter. The context is very different. It’s thrilling because we can never be complacent.”
Patinkin later made a passionate defence of refugees after his involvement in a storyline.
“Season Five began with the Syrian refugee crisis,” Patinkin said. “The minute Season Five wrapped I was on the first plane to Lesbos. For a job in show business to give you the privilege of being the voice for those who have none is the greatest gift I can imagine.”
Later in the evening, Danes discussed her character Carrie Mathison as one of the few female roles on television that does not hinge on romantic or sexual entanglements.
“She has deep and very emotionally complex connections to these characters,” Danes said. “That’s one of the great gifts of this role and of this job is that she is so much bigger than her gender; she’s defined her ethics, her moral self and her political ambition.”
Gansa hinted at what seasons seven and eight will have in store. “In a very general way, we know just how the show will end,” he said. “We have to get Carrie Mathison back into the intelligence business. She’s been out of the game too long.”