10 Intel Leaks From Behind the Scenes of ‘Homeland’ (PHOTOS)

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Homeland, Season 8 Key Art
Mark Seliger/Showtime
Homeland, Morena Baccarin, Damian Lewis
Kent Smith/Showtime

Multiple networks passed on Homeland

Fox, NBC, and FX all passed on Homeland, with some network execs balking at the serialized nature of the show — much to their eventual regret, apparently. “It was very funny seeing those guys [FX’s president John Landgraf and Fox’s then-president Kevin Reilly] at the Emmys that year,” Gansa told THR. “They just looked at me and shook their heads.”

Homeland, Damian Lewis, Claire Danes
Kent Smith/Showtime

Danes and Lewis weren’t the only actors eyed to play Carrie and Brody

Gansa told the magazine the Showtime brass were “attached to their model of casting movie stars who were on the tail end of their career” and “were pushing for Robin Wright or Halle Berry or Maria Bello, who were all already in their 40s,” to play Carrie. For the part of Brody, producers considered Ryan Phillippe, Kyle Chandler, and Alessandro Nivola.

Homeland, Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin
Kent Smith/Showtime

The producers assembled an all-star writing staff

Gansa and Gordon filled their Season 1 writers room with former showrunners: Meredith Stiehm created Cold Case and developed The Bridge, Chip Johannessen served as showrunner for Dexter, Henry Bromell show-ran Brotherhood, and Alex Carey was the co-showrunner of Lie to Me. “Some people called it a murderers’ row, but I thought we were more of a really cool band that lasted two years,” Stiehm told THR.

Homeland, David Estes
Kent Smith/Showtime

The Homeland team went to D.C. for “Spy Camp” every year

The producers and cast had clandestine meetings in Washington D.C. with intelligence experts — a yearly tradition they dubbed Spy Camp. “Former CIA people, ambassadors, ex-military, journalists, intelligence officers of all kinds would sit down with the writers, [director/producer] Lesli [Linka Glatter], Alex, Howard, [star] Mandy [Patinkin] and Claire,” former CIA officer John McGaffin revealed to the magazine.

During one Spy Camp, the team had to make sure two guests didn’t cross paths: “We had Gen. Michael Hayden, the guy in the Iraq War doing rendition, black sites, and enhanced torture techniques — so, to me, he was the devil — booked back-to-back with Dana Priest, who won the Pulitzer Prize for writing the book that exposed rendition, black sites, and enhanced torture techniques,” Glatter recalled.

Homeland, F. Murray Abraham
Kent Smith/Showtime

The intelligence community had minor quibbles with the show

The team learned about Homeland’s inaccuracies at Spy Camp, Gansa told THR: “The first thing we got was a litany of everything we got wrong: ‘We don’t talk on our cellphones. We don’t operate on American soil. Carrie would have to take blood tests, so the medication would come up.’ But we got the spirit right, and that’s what they appreciated.”

Homeland, Mandy Patinkin, Claire Danes
Sifeddine Elamine/Showtime

The team had a video chat with Edward Snowden

“Bart Gellman, this Pulitzer Prize winner who wrote the Cheney book [Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency], told me he was going to bring a guest,” Gansa said. “He shows up with his laptop, sets it up, dials a number or whatever, and the next thing we know, we’re talking to Ed Snowden in Moscow. Very odd guy. But this is before he was doing any talking to anybody.”

Mandy Patinkin (Saul Berenson) added: “You knew everyone at the CIA, the FBI and the GRU in Russia were listening in. You just knew it. I tried my butt off to get him to talk about personal stuff, but we couldn’t budge him from his soapbox.”

Homeland, Claire Danes
Sifeddine Elamine/Showtime

Everyone wanted screeners

“After the reviews, we took over the entertainment world for a time,” Gansa said. “Steven Spielberg would call for DVDs.”

Former 20th Century Fox TV Chairman Dana Walden added, “People in the highest levels of government, of entertainment, of business in general, were calling. Within a two-week period, the Obama administration and Secretary Clinton’s office called for early cuts of Homeland. The number of times in my career that has happened would be exactly one.”

Agent Rick Rosen recalled running into the 44th President once at a dinner: “Obama looks at me and goes, ‘You’re involved in Homeland? On Saturdays, Michelle goes to play tennis with the girls and I tell her I’m going down to the office to work. What I’m really doing is watching Homeland DVDs.’”

Homeland, Rupert Friend
JoJo Whilden/Showtime

Rupert Friend (Peter Quinn) wasn’t always liked

“It took me a while to warm up to Rupert,” Johannessen told the magazine. “But by the time he is apparently dead at the end of season five, we all adored him.”

Added Gansa: “There was a lot happening behind the scenes that I’m not at liberty to share.”

Homeland, Claire Danes
Stephan Rabold/Showtime

Gansa found a silver lining in the graffiti incident

“During season five, I woke up at 4:30 in the morning to a panicked call from Germany,” he remembered. “We’d been punched by a bunch of German-Muslim artists we’d hired to do the graffiti for our refugee camp set. Some of it, in Arabic, said stuff like ‘Homeland is racist’ and ‘Homeland is a watermelon.’ … I thought, ‘This is the greatest thing that could have happened. We are now going to become the center of a conversation about how America’s power is being discussed.’”

Homeland, Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin
Antony Platt/Showtime

The Homeland team was concerned about the show’s portrayal of the Muslim world

“I was on the plane, going to Germany to film a terrorist attack on a Berlin train station when the [2015] Paris attacks happened,” Gansa said. “That was the lowest point of the show for me. … 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. … The actors were like, ‘Why are we doing this? Are we perpetrating [sic] 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.”

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Showtime landed an instant hit when Homeland premiered in 2011 — netting its most-watched premiere in nearly a decade and winning Emmys for stars Claire Danes (Carrie Mathison) and Damian Lewis (Nicholas Brody), the screenwriters of the pilot, and the show itself.

But the series — adapted by former 24 collaborators Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon from the Israeli series Hatufim — has not been immune to controversy or behind-the-scenes drama.

Ahead of Homeland’s final season, The Hollywood Reporter assembled an oral history of the espionage drama. Click through the gallery above for 10 anecdotes from the 10-year history of the show’s development and production.

Homeland, Season 8 Premiere, Sunday, February 9, 9/8c, Showtime