Homeland: Who the makers originally wanted to play Carrie and Brody (and why they rejected Damian Lewis several times)

Show’s creators were told ‘he will never play this role – please do not bring him up ever again’

Jacob Stolworthy
Monday 04 May 2020 10:46 BST
Homeland series finale trailer

Homeland has officially ended after eight seasons released over nine years – however, it almost arrived looking very different.

The Showtime drama launched in 2011 with an acclaimed season following Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and her hunt to discern whether Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) had been turned by the al-Qaeda after being released as their prisoner.

Both actors went on to win Emmys for their respective roles.

However, if the casting had been left to executives at the network, the two leading characters would have been played by different actors altogether.

As per Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Showtime originally wanted Halle Berry for the role of Carrie.

Creators Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon, though, thought Danes was better suited for the role and were granted their wish when she accepted.

It was Lewis’s casting that proved far tougher. Ahead of the final season, Gansa told The Hollywood Reporter there was initially “tremendous resistance to casting” him as Brody.

Showtime bosses believed that Lewis “looked like a guy who’d led a show that only lasted two seasons” because of his time on the short-lived drama Life.

They then pursued actors including Kyle Chandler and Ryan Philippe, as well as a number of others who passed up the chance because they did not want to play a villain.

One such actor was Alessandro Nivola, the actor who leads forthcoming Sopranos film The Many Saints of Newark.

Despite essentially being told “Damian Lewis will never play this role, please do not bring him up ever again,” Gansa made the bosses watch him in 2004 drama Keane knowing they had weeks to go before the pilot began shooting.

They quickly accepted and Lewis signed on immediately.

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