Hey, isn’t that … an awfully familiar-looking actor in a bit part on Sunday night’s episode of the spy thriller “Homeland”? That blink-and-you-might-have-missed-him guy in the overcoat was former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, as several eagle-eyed viewers informed us.
So we caught up with the Democrat on Monday to get the story of how his cameo came to be: The Showtime show had been filming its seventh season in and around Richmond last year, thanks in part to McAuliffe’s intense lobbying campaign. (He was a fan of the show, and even more so of the economic boon it brought to the commonwealth.)
The showrunners had tried to work him into various bit parts, he said, but his schedule wouldn’t allow it. Finally, he was leaving the State Capitol building one night after a late meeting and happened to spot the gang filming a scene outside, with the columned Capitol standing in for a federal building. “The producer saw me and said, ‘Hey, let’s do it now!’ ” McAuliffe recalls. So they threw an overcoat on him, gave him a “quick dust-up” in the makeup chair and put him in a brief, nonspeaking role as Man Talking to Senate Aide. And thus a star (sorta) was born.
It wasn’t his first rodeo, either — the former governor had a small part on AMC’s Revolutionary War drama “Turn,” which also filmed in Virginia, and in “The Adjustment Bureau” starring Matt Damon. (He’s even got a SAG card — and more time on his hands since his term ended this year. “So I’m available!” he joked.)
McAuliffe said they shot and reshot the “Homeland” scene, in which he and the Senate staffer scale the Capitol steps, about 10 times. It gave him a pretty good workout — and also an appreciation of the painstaking detail that goes into filming, with each take using a slightly different camera angle or lighting, he noted. The seasoned pol is used to performances that are a bit more — impromptu.
“I don’t have the patience to be an actor,” he says. “These folks work very, very hard on all the details.”