‘Homeland’: Halle Berry as Carrie Mathison? Showtime Considered It
After a great TV series ends, it’s always fun to look back at the making of the show. Over the years, we’ve seen been plenty of dissections of The Sopranos and other classics. (The Sopranos podcast launched in 2020 will surely keep those conversations going.)
Now that Homeland has gone out in style after eight seasons on Showtime, repeat viewings and looking back will have to do. Fortunately, the stars and creators of the show did so many interviews leading up the series finale that fans have plenty to work with.
In fact, one of the great documents on the show emerged before the final Homeland season premiered. It was an oral history published by The Hollywood Reporter that featured the show’s principals from the development period through the end of the show.
If you wondered how Claire Danes got the leading role on the show, THR’s oral history had the answer. And it also noted the other actresses in the running to play Carrie Mathison. Oscar-winner Halle Berry was among them.
Showtime reportedly wanted Halle Berry to play Carrie Mathison
According to Homeland creators Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon, the show had the usual “battles” with the network when it came to casting the principal actors. That involved warnings about the reliability of Mandy Patinkin (Saul Berenson) as well as a general dismissal of Damian Lewis (Nicholas Brody).
But, given it was the starring role, there was even more riding on the part Danes eventually landed. Gansa recalled Showtime running with a list of “movie stars who were on the tail end of their career.” And that list included Berry, who’d won an Oscar for Monster’s Ball (2001).
After her work as a Bond girl (2002), her starring role in Catwoman (2005), and a turn as Storm in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), Berry didn’t have a movie released from ’08-09, which was around the time Homeland was in development.
Bert Salke, the president of Fox 21, told THR that “Berry was the big deal” as far as the Carrie part went. (He said Showtime executives pushed for her.) But obviously that didn’t happen. It turned out that Danes had a particular edge.
Maria Bello and Robin Wright were also in the running
Despite a name like Berry’s being in the mix, Gansa (who was also Homeland’s showrunner) believed she was too old for the part of Carrie. He thought the same of Maria Bello and Robin Wright (two other actresses in the running).
Eventually, Gansa and Gordon convinced Showtime execs that Danes was the one. David Nevins, president of entertainment at Showtime in those days, described going with Danes as “not a hard call” in THR’s oral history. (Nevins said he admired her range.)
Meanwhile, Gordon revealed another detail that likely tipped the scale in Danes’ favor. “We had called the character Claire in the first 16 drafts,” he said. (Berry couldn’t have competed with that.)
At that point in her career, Danes had already scored Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for My So-Called Life. And she’d soon win both awards for her work on Temple Granadin (2010). Her trophy case would swell even further once Homeland’s first season premiered.