In 'Homeland,' It's Hard To Know Whom To Trust

In Showtime's Homeland, Claire Danes plays a CIA agent who suspects a heroic American POW is actually a double agent for al-Qaida.

In Showtime's Homeland, Claire Danes plays a CIA agent who suspects a heroic American POW is actually a double agent for al-Qaida.

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itoggle caption Showtime

When the Fox series 24 wrapped in 2010, TV producer and writer Howard Gordon didn't take a break. He drove directly from 24's soundstage to a coffee shop and began working on his next project, Homeland.

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Howard Gordon became 24's showrunner and executive producer in 2006. Courtesy of Fox hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Fox
Howard Gordon

Howard Gordon became 24's showrunner and executive producer in 2006.

Courtesy of Fox

The Showtime drama, which premiered Oct. 2, is about a POW named Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) who comes home from Iraq and is accused by a CIA agent (played by Claire Danes) of being a spy for al-Qaida.

What makes Homeland so unusual, says Fresh Air's David Bianculli, is that the viewer is initially unclear about who is telling the truth. It could be Brody, a soldier who was missing and presumed dead for years. Or it could be Danes' character, Carrie Mathison, who suspects Brody might be a double agent who was turned while in captivity.

"It was a compelling idea for us to ask a lot of questions about the war, and our response to what happened 10 years ago, and how our world has changed," Gordon explains. "We loved the character [of the returning vet], and we loved the idea of a hero on the other side of the table who was trying to stop something bad from happening, who was unreliable herself. It's very different from Jack Bauer."

Gordon explains that he adapted Homeland from an Israeli drama about POWs, and that the Showtime series will be a thriller with nightly twists and turns.

"We talked at length about how far we could take it without it being maddening to the audience and to ourselves — and at the same time, answering questions along the way that fill in the pieces," he says. "At some point, we do play our card up in this season, but even then, there are surprises and places to go. So this was a deeper well than we imagined. But it's a tightrope walk, and I think it's one we managed fairly well in the end."

Gordon has written for The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. He was the executive producer and showrunner for 24.

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