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Homeland's Alex Gansa talks Brody exit and future plans

Homeland: Season 3

Story by Jack Foley

ALEX Gansa, showrunner and executive producer of Homeland, has been talking about what to expect from the show following the surprise departure of Damian Lewis’s Nicholas Brody.

The third season of the thriller saw Brody being executed by Iranian officials for assassinating one of their high-ranking officers.

The move sets up the possibility of a completely new direction for the show, with question marks also now surrounding the fate of other regulars such as Claire Danes’s Carrie, Mandy Patinkin’s Saul (now out of the CIA himself) and the likes of F Murray Abraham and Rupert Friend.

Commenting on the decision to kill off Brody, Gansa told The Hollywood Reporter that it had long been felt that the character’s “shelf life” had expired, especially as he had become a difficult character to write.

“We really spent a lot of time talking about what a great deal of emotional territory we had covered – not only with Brody but between Brody and Carrie. There just wasn’t all that much left to explore,” he explained.

Elaborating further, he said: “I think Doctor Graham spoke it plainly to Brody in the third episode of this season, [when he said] Brody is a cockroach. There is no doubt that his character, from the very beginning, has been a challenging one to write.

“He’s the most opaque and changeable and he’s so damaged… It’s difficult to get inside that guy’s head. He’s always been something of an enigma. That’s what made him so difficult to play and so tough to cast. We’re so lucky to have gotten Damian Lewis to play that guy. I don’t know many actors who could have played him with that kind of complexity and depth and also maintained that unknowability.

“You didn’t know up until the very end what was going on in his mind, and that’s really difficult. I know Damian faced that challenge every day, but whether he was out of control, I think he had a fairly good hold on [Brody].

“We talked very seriously about killing him in season two, but ultimately I’m just glad we kept him alive because we wouldn’t have had this season and we wouldn’t have gotten to play some of those moments.”

Asked whether the decision to exclude Brody’s character from the first few episodes of season three were a test to see whether the show could survive without him, Gansa admitted that it had been. But he also felt that the arrival of new characters, such as Tracy Letts’ Senator Lockhart and Nazanin Boniadi’s Fara, had shown that it could given the strength of their performances.

“These are characters we got to explore and enrich and see whether or not the show can withstand Brody’s absence,” he said. “Honestly, I think it has. I think they raised their game and made the show vital without that central character onstage.”

Asked what direction the show was now heading, Gansa refused to give too much away as so much remains a work in progress. But he did admit that “we’re in the enviable but terrifying position of starting again”.

He added: “ If there’s one idea that we’re floating around that feels like we could get some purchase on, it’s the idea of seeing Carrie do what she was trained to do – and that is being a case officer in a foreign country.”

He also reassured that Patinkin’s Saul would be back, albeit working for the private sector.

“We’re not starting from scratch, but the show is going to be different,” he concluded.

Read the full interview

Read our verdict on the season three finale

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