Claire Danes Says ‘Carrie Becomes Brody, in a Way’ in ‘Homeland’s Final Season

Claire Danes Homeland Season 8
Mark Seliger/SHOWTIME

Claire Danes has cried onscreen countless times while portraying passionate bipolar ex-CIA agent Carrie Mathison on Showtime’s dark spy thriller Homeland. But late last year, while filming with costar Mandy Patinkin for the eighth and final season, Danes shed tears that the script didn’t call for.

“When I had my final scene with Mandy, I broke down,” says the actress, whose character was mentored by Patinkin’s fatherly Saul Berenson. “I loved my scenes with Mandy. I feel like Carrie is most herself with Saul.”

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Months after that emotional moment, Danes, a three-time Emmy winner (two of which she won for her work on Homeland), opened up to TV Guide Magazine about what viewers can expect as the show wraps up its run, including a guest arc from her real-life husband, Hugh Dancy (Hannibal). FYI: No enhanced interrogation techniques were needed to extract this intel!

Last season ended with a psychologically damaged Carrie released from a Russian prison, where she’d been deprived of her medication for eight months. How is she doing in Season 8?

Claire Danes: Not too much time [has passed, so] she is still recovering. She’s been traumatized. She doesn’t know what happened to her in there, because she was denied medication and became psychotic. She’s struggling to put that story together, recall some of those experiences, but she’s even more of an unreliable narrator than she’s been in the past.

Homeland Season 8 Premiere Carrie

(Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME)

Which makes the CIA and White House officials suspicious. Do they believe she’s a sleeper agent for the Russians?

That’s the question. Carrie becomes Brody, in a way — a potential traitor. There’s a lot of symmetry. [Carrie’s lover Nicholas Brody, played by Damian Lewis in Seasons 1–3, was a Marine turned would-be suicide bomber by his al-Qaeda captor, but he later sacrificed his life for the U.S.]

Even so, National Security Advisor Berenson puts Carrie back in action. Why?

Saul has negotiated a peace deal with the Taliban, and he needs certain Afghan politicians to support his efforts. Carrie was a very successful station chief in Afghanistan [in Season 4], and she can facilitate that.

There’s wariness from some in the Kabul station about Carrie’s return, including from ambitious young agent Jenna Bragg (Andrea Deck). Will she spell trouble for Carrie?

That’s an interesting relationship. She’s kind of a Carrie acolyte, initially, and Carrie exploits that, but she does appreciate Jenna as well.

In Kabul, Carrie runs into Yevgeny Gromov (Costa Ronin), the always troublesome Russian spy. We last saw him in the prison when he took away those much-needed antipsychotic drugs to punish her. What’s Carrie’s plan here?

He’s the reason she was in that Russian institution! She wants personal payback, but he’s also the only person who can help recover some of her lost memories. It’s also kind of a Stockholm syndrome thing with him at play.

Homeland Season 8 Carrie Mike Jenna

(Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME)

Your husband, Hugh Dancy, plays a character named John Zabel this season. Who is he?

He’s [an adviser] who influences the president [played by Beau Bridges] and somebody whose values are very different from Carrie’s. They are not allies. We actually didn’t have any scenes together, but it was great to share the show with him!

Will there be any happiness waiting for Carrie at the end of her journey?

It depends on how you look at it. She finally accepts that she was destined to do this work. I always have the most fun when I’m playing her as an active officer.

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Will you miss playing Carrie?

Of course I will, but to be honest, I don’t really know how I feel yet. It’s going to be very strange this spring when I would have been going back to work and I don’t. I’m still promoting [the show], so I still feel tethered to it. The end doesn’t quite feel real yet.

Has embodying such a deeply complex person affected you at all?

I know her so intimately, but I was pretty good at drawing the line between her and myself. We’re decidedly different. I had a blast putting her brilliance, her swagger and her confidence on, but they’re not mine. [Laughs]

Homeland Season 8 Claire Danes as Carrie

(Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME)

What’s next for you in your career?

I’m going to give myself a moment to decompress and figure out where to go from here. I don’t want to race toward anything. I’m not quite ready to make another big decision yet!

Homeland, Season 8 Premiere, Sunday, Feb. 9, 9/8c, Showtime