The cast of Homeland went to the CIA to meet with 50 agents, spoke to Edward Snowden, set up a ‘spy camp’ in Washington D.C. and enlisted the help of Mossad agents as part of their research for the hit TV series.
The show’s stars Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin, as well as the creators, revealed the secret tales of the spy drama in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter on Thursday.
The previously unheard stories comes as the award-winning series prepares to air its eighth and final season on February 9.
Homeland’s creators say that soon after the show started airing in 2011, the likes of President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would call up asking for early copies of episodes.
The show’s stars Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin (above), as well as the creators, revealed the secret tales of the spy drama as it prepares to air its eighth and final season on February 9
Obama admitted once that he used to lie to his wife Michelle by saying he was going down to his White House office to work on Saturdays when he was actually just watching Homeland DVDs.
As part of their research for the show, the cast and Showtime network executives once arranged a meeting at the CIA headquarters in Langely, Virginia.
It is not clear when the meeting took place but it was during the time John Brennan was at the helm.
All of their phones were confiscated for the meeting and the whole team found themselves sitting across from about 50 CIA agents.
Brennan, who was director between 2013-2017, even came in the middle of meeting and alluded to the show’s popularity, telling the cast: ‘I don’t know what your show is, but I know it matters to my people.’
Brennan also offered to show Mandy Patinkin, who plays the CIA director, around.
‘He grabbed Mandy and said, ‘Hey, do you want to see your office?’,’ said Gary Levine, who was Showtime’s executive VP of original programming at the time.
As part of their research for the show, the cast and Showtime network executives once arranged a meeting at the CIA headquarters in Langely, Virginia
The show’s cast and creators once met with then-CIA director John Brennan at Langley and even spoke to whistleblower Edward Snowden on video chat from Russia
The show’s co-creator, Alex Gansa, said the agents spoke to the cast about how similar their professions were.
‘It’s a lot of acting, storytelling and feigned intimacy,’ he said.
At one point during the series, the cast and creators found themselves on a video chat with American whistleblower Edward Snowden from Russia.
‘You knew everyone at the CIA, the FBI and the GRU in Russia were listening in. You just knew it,’ Patinkin said.
‘I tried my butt off to get him to talk about personal stuff, but we couldn’t budge him from his soapbox.’
The Homeland crew would also hold yearly ‘spy camps’ in Washington D.C. in January where they would meet with intelligence officers, ex-CIA, ambassadors, former military and journalists.
They would use the meetings as a fishing expedition by asking what national security issues would likely be coming up within the next year.
Danes plays CIA agent Carrie Mathison in the series. She has won Golden Globes and an Emmy for her role on the show
Homeland’s creators say that soon after the show started airing in 2011, the likes of President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would call up asking for early copies of episodes
They would then use it as inspiration for that season, which would start filming by June.
‘Every year, every individual echoed the same concerns, and it really started setting the tone for each season,’ Patinkin said.
Danes added: ‘It was an avalanche of unsettling information.’
The Homeland crew said the how was so popular with the intelligence community that they were willing to do anything to help out with research.
Part of that research included a Skype call with two senior Mossad officers in Tel Aviv about Iranian spy work.
So intense was the research that Lesli Linka Glatter, who is a director and producer on the show, said she now gets strip searched at Heathrow airport.
‘To make sure I got shoots correct, I looked up the most incendiary videos – public hangings in Tehran, how to emigrate to ISIS, jihadi videos, beheadings,’ she said.
‘I downloaded it on my home computer, like an idiot, and now I get strip searched every time I go through Heathrow.’