The intelligence community has long had a TV crush on “Homeland,” the Showtime drama about their profession, and at a Tuesday dinner, the show and the spies who love it indicated that the admiration is mutual.
Actress Claire Danes, who plays the show’s lead character, the volatile-yet-brilliant CIA officer Carrie Mathison, described how the show’s creators and actors attempt to get things right, from overarching themes to nitty-gritty details. They spend a week in Washington before every season, meeting with their real-life counterparts, she said in a video shown at Tuesday night’s Power of Film Awards, hosted by the nonprofit group America Abroad Media.
“We’ve met some extraordinary people who’ve given us unique insights into their world, their values and their profession,” Danes said. But in some meetings, she did get a little pushback about her character. “We heard from some that the CIA would never have a highly medicated, bipolar person as the chief of station — or, at least, that’s what you told us,” she said.
And former CIA director Michael Hayden, in a similar video address, lauded the show for nailing the “culture of American espionage, things like service before self . . . patriotism and idealism” and the sometimes murky business of keeping America safe.
And though he allowed that the TV series has to take liberties with fact to make for good drama, he offered one fact check: Real spies don’t go around making cellphone calls from the CIA headquarters. “Mandy, Claire, we’re serious,” he said, referring to Danes and co-star Mandy Patinkin. “Don’t use a cellphone at Langley!”