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'Homeland' Star Damian Lewis Talks Brody's Season 2 Struggle, The Emmys And More

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Damian Lewis previews
Damian Lewis previews "Homeland" Season 2

"Homeland" was the breakout hit of last season, and for good reason. With a thrill-ride first season full of huge cliffhangers, high stakes and Emmy-worthy performances across the board, "Homeland" Season 2 (premieres Sun., Sept. 30, 10 p.m. ET on Showtime) is easily one of the most anticipated returning shows of the fall.

I caught up with star Damian Lewis, whose character Sgt. Nicholas Brody terrified us all with his flashbacks to the war and late-night meetings, then made us forget about his evil intentions with sexy trysts and a weekend away with CIA agent Carrie Matheson (Claire Danes), the woman determined to prove he was working for the enemy.

Season 2 picks up several months after Season 1 ended -- when Carrie's realization about Brody's connection to Abu Nazir and his son Isa was seemingly erased by her electroconvulsive therapy -- and finds Brody now a sitting Congressman, working frighteningly close to the people he's determined to take down.

Lewis talked about all the awards love for the show and also teased what Brody and Carrie's inevitable reunion will look like. He discussed how Brody's home life has changed now that he's in office, and previewed a very "gothic ... operatic" episode this season that sounds like a game-changer for the troubled Congressman. Keep reading for more ...

You've been acting for so long, but aside from a Golden Globe nomination for "Band of Brothers," "Homeland" is giving you your first real American awards push with a Golden Globe nomination and now the Emmys love. Is it a strange new world, or are you enjoying it all?
It's absolutely lovely. I don't find it strange at all -- I just feel incredibly lucky. And also at the same time a little bit smug because a lot of hard work paid off. That the show was a success so immediately I think it surprised us all. It was right out of the gates, everyone was talking about it. It just turns out that, in the same way that people love horror movies, to go and be scared, people also love to sit down and be made to feel really f---ing anxious and sweaty-palmed and slightly uneasy on a Sunday night. It's an odd sort of connection you can have with your television box, but I think this is basically just an interesting story really well told. That's a bland response, but that's what it is.

But I think that maybe on a more subliminal level, people do still feel that we could get blown up at any moment, and so the thought that it might be one of your own that's about to do it ... I mean, it's not a long way from what happened in Aurora, Colorado. The guy walking in and just mowing people down ... it's unthinkable. Here, this guy goes away to war, is affected by his experiences in war and comes back and might do something equally atrocious. I think people are gripped by that possibility.

"The Weekend" was such a pivotal Season 1 episode, because it's what most viewers thought we wouldn't get to see until the Season 1 finale, and it came right in the middle of the season.
Right. Brody sort of came clean with Carrie about certain aspects, knowing Abu Nazir ... it was like, "OK, now we've sussed each other out." But the reason it was so good is because, at the same time, it brought them together as a couple in a weird way. They were just -- well, are -- attracted to each other. Not only because we're both extraordinary physical specimens [laughs], but also because there's a recognition. I said this a lot last season, but I'll say it again because I slightly fell in love with my own phrase, but they are these broken-winged birds just sort of hobbling around each other. He has a recognition with Carrie he frankly doesn't have with Jess, his childhood sweetheart who he's now very different from. He and Carrie are just drawn to each other, and it screws her up when she's supposed to be being procedural and professional and gathering information and ensuring the safety of the country. At the same time, she's drawn to this guy who represents the threat. Similarly for him, he's drawn to her.

I like that you're using the present tense. So it's safe to assume that when they do finally meet up in Season 2, whenever that is, that the attraction, that draw, is still there?
Absolutely. The series is at its best in their storyline when this sort of odd connection that they have and this sort of co-dependency that they have gets in the way of whatever it is they're both trying to do professionally. There is an instance, for example, when Brody is abandoned somewhere -- I won't tell you what it is, but he's on his own, he's down, he's depressed, and I think that's real. And he needs to call someone, and the person he calls is Carrie. And I think that's just always going to be true for Brody. However dangerous she is to him, he knows she's the one person who could rumble him. He just has a connection with her. She's the one person that makes him feel better. At the same time, knowing that when they're together, she is probably working him in some way, as he in some ways is working her, trying to suss her out further. That duality that exists every time they meet is very intoxicating, and it's fantastic to play those two things at once.

I've only seen the Season 2 premiere, but I can already feel that tension, that build-up to their inevitable reunion, which I feel like will be a huge part of this season, even if they talk to each other as early as Episode 2.
Yeah, I think you're right. This isn't the first time they've met now, so they've got a bit of history, right? They've slept together, they've run around the block a few times together, they've hurt each other ... so they're kind of like a couple that's saying, "Let's try and make another go of it," in simplistic terms. She's got a lot of anger because she committed herself to a psychiatric unit because he made her believe she was crazy.

I've made this mistake before as a guy [laughs], in a domestic relationship. When a girl's going, "I saw you talking to that girl" or "I saw you making eyes at her," and you say, "You are f---ing crazy!" And you say it because it's an expression of speech -- you don't mean literally, "I think you're insane" -- but I've been at the wrong end of this, where I've had a woman say to me, "It was damaging telling me that I was crazy." But it turned out to be true, by the way -- I was innocent! [Laughs.] But the language was what was so damaging. This is that to the nth degree. There's a moment in Season 2 where Carrie says, "I don't think I'm crazy. I don't think I'm crazy." And there's a lot of residual anger towards Brody as a result as she goes after him.

As much as Carrie has been changed and Brody has this new persona to uphold, I feel like his wife Jess (Morena Baccarin) might've changed more than anyone. She's living life as if they're this fabulously happy, perfect political family.
Yeah, there's an interesting development with Jess where you see a woman suddenly with her eyes on the prize a little bit. She says to Brody, "Don't f--- this up, Brody." But it's not really just about Brody -- it's like, "I'm really enjoying this. Don't f--- it up for me." Jess becomes a bit of a social climber, and that's not actually particularly attractive. But wait until you see Morena in a dress at a political function. It's like JFK and Jackie O, even though that's a bit of an obvious reference. But we do kind of look not dissimilar to the red-headed Kennedy and the darker-skinned Jackie. I think it's great for Morena; I think she's loving that aspect of it. It'll be interesting to see because political wives will stand by their man through thick and thin. You saw Hillary Clinton. These guys can do the do and behave like assholes and have these strong, feisty, ambitious women stand by them and put on a smile, because they don't want to give it up either. "I will stand shoulder to shoulder with you ... you c---sucker." It'll be interesting to see if they go that far with Jessica, because they might have to.

I feel like Brody had some moments in Season 1 that were probably a big challenge to play, but hearing you describe his state of mind this season, and seeing him in the season premiere, it seems almost more difficult. He has so much frenetic energy!
You know what? It is kind of exhausting! [Laughs.] You know what it's like to feel anxious -- it's horrible feeling anxious. It's stressful having that feeling, having butterflies in your stomach, even for a day, and you don't sleep at night. Brody's just like that all the time. The one thing that is problematic in playing it is, at the moment, whenever you see Brody performing his Congressional duties, he seems to be able to put everything away and be a functioning, working Congressman.

And I think it's important to Brody that he's a good Congressman, by the way, because Brody's not anti-America. He's very pro-America. But he's pro a certain kind of America. He's anti the Vice President and using drones and people blowing people up elsewhere ... especially people that he loves, like little boys. [Pause.] That came out wrong. Like Isa. [Laughs.] His surrogate son. So that's quite a difficult jump -- he's very functioning and healthy in the workplace, and then I still have to continue to find those moments where he is anxious, paranoid and just exasperated.

There's a moment in the trailer for this season where Brody looks completely unhinged. He's washing blood off of himself in a car wash and burying ... something.
It's very "Deer Hunter." That's episode 3 ... that's a very, very almost gothic episode. It's very operatic. It's amazing.

"Homeland" Season 2 premieres Sun., Sept. 30, 10 p.m. ET on Showtime.

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