TVLine's Performer of the Week: Claire Danes

Homeland Season 2 Interrogation SceneA new feature in which we spotlight the past week’s shining star

THE PERFORMER | Claire Danes

THE SHOW | Homeland (Showtime)


THE AIRDATE | October 28, 2012

THE PERFORMANCE | Yes, CIA analyst Carrie Mathison’s sitdown with would-be terrorist Nicholas Brody did span more than a quarter of an hour. But it was the quality of those 15 continuous minutes, more than the quantity, that left every single viewer realizing they had laid witness to one of TV’s great moments.

Steering the gripping face-off was Danes’ compelling turn as Carrie, who used her heart as well as her head in helping Brody release his burden of dark secrets. Alternately she appealed to the war hero unsettled by his awkward reentry into society, the family man who in the end chose coming home for dinner over an act of terror, and the man she had previously made clear she loved and mayyyybe obsesses over.

Ultimately, it was a human drowning in lies who succumbed to her grilling. “Wouldn’t it be a relief to stop lying?” Danes’ dynamic snoop posited. “I could say, ‘Brody, I want you to leave your wife and children and be with me.’ It feels good! Try it.”

Throughout the Q&A session, Danes’ face registered measured disgust for a traitor, compassion for an emotionally wounded warrior, incredulity at the lies lobbed her way, occasional hints of madness (“Alone at last!”) and wide-eyed horror upon hearing a new attack on America was in play.

TVLine’s Performer of the Week aims to spread the wealth and, yes, Homeland‘s Morena Baccarin was our inaugural honoree. Yet a tour de force this riveting must be paid its due. Because yes, Carrie, it felt good indeed.

Whose performance knocked your socks off this past week?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. jimbo says:

    While currently on break, I’d love to see Monica Potter get some recognition for her work on Parenthood.

  2. Tony S says:

    They both deserve awards for that scene’s performances. Simply intense and outstanding.

    • kimberly says:

      I second that…. the interrogation scene with Claire Danes and Damian Lewis was one of the best 15 minutes of acting I’ve ever seen on television.

    • Annie says:

      Nothing to add but a big fat ditto. Simply superb. Best 15+ minutes on TV I’ve ever had the privilege of seeing.

  3. Daisy says:

    Claire Danes was indeed spectacular in this scene but she didn’t do it alone. I would have to claim this a tied between her and Damian Lewis. It was the best tete a tete I’ve seen on tv in a long while.

    • Irishgirl says:

      Agreed! I say they both deserve the honor. The range of emotions that spread across Damian Lewis’ face during that 15 minutes was stunning.

      • ben says:

        I cannot recall anyone ever acting so well for such a long scene with so few words. It was truly stunning. That scene is probably what gets submitted for their Emmy nominations for the next year, and ought to see them both repeat.

  4. Lambsilencer says:

    It really was a great episode, and the astute portrayal of emotion in this show in general is splendid. I read Brody’s true intentions off his face back in season one when he was interrogated for the very first time, when no one suspected him. Damian Lewis played it to perfection, how a skilled person like him would mask his emotion, with some very short micro-expressions ultimately betraying him, telling me that he has been indeed turned. It was splendid acting, and we saw much more of it in this latest installment, and from both him and Claire Danes.

  5. Claire says:

    Agree completely! Claire Danes rocked this episode!

  6. Sara says:

    I’m a little surprised that Damain Lewis wasn’t named this week’s winner.

    • Superhero says:

      Agreed; Danes was obviously terrific as well, but I thought Lewis beat her by a hair. Hell, if anything I would’ve done a tie.

      • lydiakj says:

        Yep, I thought they would share the title. I can’t imagine one without the other in this scene. They both have some truly impressive control over their facial muscles.

  7. I’d love to see Stana Katic, from Castle, as performer of the week.
    Her performance in the last episode 05×05 Probable Cause, was outstanding, as it was in the season premiere.

  8. LMSO says:

    I agree with Tony S…with “Q&A” Claire Danes and Damien Lewis move immediately to the head of the pack for Emmy consideration next year. Have a Best Actor and Best Actress (from the same show, no less!) ever gotten back-to-back Emmy Awards? Because at this point the nominations seem a lock and the repeat wins very likely. HOMELAND continues to amaze, to rivet, and to astound with each passing episode. Bravo.

    • John says:

      They do seem like probably repeat winners. Cranston doesn’t have a great submission for next year. Jon Hamm could get something, but more than likely Lewis will be the frontrunner. Nobody’s beating Danes.

  9. Britta Unfiltered says:

    Hmmm…while Claire Danes was certainly great, I gotta say Damian Lewis won this round. And I think part of the reason I felt that way was because he had more screen time, particularly during her lines so that we could see what he was going through. His reaction to her line about wanting him to run away with her…oh my gosh. His fearful looks around the room at the beginning of the episode, his at-times petulant attitude toward the questions, his surprise at her saying he was a good man, the 5-second build up of his confession where you can see the truth wanting to burst out of him, his relief and sadness once the confession was out, that whole scene in the car, particularly the delicious “I’m about to go for a ride on the Carrie Mathison roller coaster” look he gave her, the next scene with the “Oh crap, I can’t be with her, I have a family,” look he gave her…and her sad sigh in reaction to the look…these were all things that totally rocked my boat.
    I think Damian has already won next year’s Emmy with that episode. This whole season feels like it has been more the season of Brody, while last season felt like it was more the season of Carrie. I love that after this intense experience they have just gone through together, he is all twitterpated with Carrie. She’s the only person to have seen the true him, and that has bonded him to her. I have a hope that for the rest of the season, we might have a bit of a turnaround where he becomes the one obsessed with her for a change, and maybe she puts him off a little because she thinks he needs to be with his family.
    I think I have a major crush on Damian Lewis now. I do love the boys with the big talents, and he’s got it in spades! I was iffy on him beating Cranston for the Emmy, but I’m starting to think he probably did deserve it over Cranston. Mandy Patinkin is really great on that show too, I wish they would give him an episode like he had last year with Ailene or with his wife. He needs meatier stuff to work with. Sorry for the long post. I love talking about Homeland, and my friends don’t really watch it, so I gotta get my fix here!

    • John says:

      I think Danes is dominating this season. Last week was the first spotlight for Lewis, and even then he had to co-sign with Danes. From her suicide attempt, her panic attack in Beirut, her confrontation of Brody in the hotel- this show pretty much belongs to her now. I’m not dismissing Lewis’ contributions, but I’m finding Brody less fascinating this year.

    • lydiakj says:

      Totally agree with you on hoping Mandy/Saul gets another spotlight episode!

    • Carla says:

      It always amazes me how quickly people dump someone in favor of a “winner”. You can start to think whatever you want. To me, Cranston is head and shoulders above him as an actor. Still.

      • John says:

        This sounds somewhat bitter (which is pretty typical of BB fanatics). I don’t think Lewis is on Cranston’s level, though he has great moments. Still, if Lewis is someone’s favorite they have a right to think that. It’s not like Homeland has only aired a few episodes. They’ve seen enough installments to draw their own personal conclusion.

        • Carla says:

          I sound bitter yet you basically think the same as I do? Mkay. And I’m not a BB ‘fanatic’. But I do have eyes and Cranston has elevated that show on countless occasions, even without episodes that are seemingly written for the sole purpose of Emmy consideration, such as this past homeland ep, which I personally found to be a bit much. I also think he absolutely deserved a fourth Emmy, which shouldn’t really be THAT important but awards clearly seem to massively influence tv viewers. As for Lewis, am I not allowed as well to think he’s not on several actors’ level? The minute he isn’t sharing a scene with Danes hes absolutely underwhelming, such as in the final scene with his wife last ep. I’m sure he wont care about my criticism come this year’s golden globes. And no, that isn’t me being ‘bitter’ so much as just disappointed.

          • John says:

            I’m not gonna dismiss someone’s opinion just because it doesn’t align with mine. Disagreeing is one thing. Accusing someone of bandwagon-ing is another. That’s where the bitter whiff is coming from. You basically accused someone of just falling for the hype and not being an individual. I’m sure that poster has seen all episodes of BB and Homeland, so it’s not as if their opinion is based on partial evidence.

            I don’t always love Lewis, but his best performance on this series is still “Marine One”, where he shares only one short scene with Danes, and that’s the episode he won his first Emmy with. I’m not gonna accuse the writers of trying to nab awards, because this show has always been intense and dramatic. Danes could have submitted probably eight or nine out of the twelve episode first season, and she would have been the Emmy front-runner. Also, there’s been a lot of big developments at the beginning of this season, so the dramatics are justified.

            I still believe this show belongs to Danes, but Lewis has some great moments. I don’t begrudge his Emmy win despite thinking that Cranston is still the best dramatic actor on TV. I did prefer Lewis’ Emmy submission, and Cranston has three wins already.

          • Carla says:

            @John, I say she can think what she wants, to you it’s “dismissal”. I say people have a funny tendency to change their minds suddenly in favor if a winner, which is pretty much exactly what she said she did, you say it’s “accusing someone of bandwagon-ing.” Okay, John, you’re the one taking this too seriously, so I’m out. One final note, saying someone already has 3 Emmys, i.e. too many Emmys, will never be a good enough excuse in my book.

          • John says:

            I don’t mean to be too serious. It just annoys me when I feel I’m being dismissed or condescended myself, and I was in the mood to argue anyways.

            Imo, Lewis should have won the Emmy based on submissions. I would have voted for Cranston based on overall season. I would have given Jon Hamm the win for instead of Cranston his third win. Only for season one have I felt Cranston had without a doubt the best submitted episode. James Gandolfini and Edie Falco are my favorite dramatic actors ever on TV, and they only won three. And Cranston has two more years to compete. I just felt all the crying from BB fanatics after three wins and one loss was a bit silly.

  10. Cat says:

    Agree! That scene was INCREDIBLE, like watching a play. Both actors were riveting from start to finish, the writing was another level of TV-writing, and the negative spaces were gut-wrenching. That was the best 15 minutes of TV we’re likely to see in a long time.

  11. Lilys87 says:

    Once again, i completely agree with your pick.
    This show knows no limits, this was outstanding.

  12. Patricia says:

    Claire Danes is amazing there is no competition for her she is in a other league. Kerry Washington in Scandal is pretty good too

  13. John says:

    Do you guys (TV Line Staff) watch anything other than
    homeland? Plenty of amazing actors on other shows.

    • Adrianna says:

      At the end of the article they asked you to name some, so please, feel free to list your favorites!

      • John says:

        I was asking TVLand staff specifically, as it seems TV Land staff tends to pick actors from Homeland as their performer of the week. As great as that show is, it’s not the only one whose actors pull out amazing performances.

        • Bob says:

          Then you’re asking the wrong people. This is tvline, not tvland.

        • Kevin says:

          Just sounds like John’s a hater, HOMELAND FTW!

          • John says:

            Now I’m a hater? Why? Because I happen to disagree just this once? I watch Homeland too & I like it as well as 69 other shows. And there *are* other shows on TV whose actors deserve a shout out too. It just seems for this weekly ‘column’ TVLine staff is only watching Homeland lately. That’s all I’m saying.

    • Nicole says:

      Dude, it has been 2 weeks, calm down

  14. tvdiva says:

    This award should have gone to Claire Danes and Damien Lewis – they were both awesome in that 15 minute scene. To single one of them out and not the other is absurd.

  15. josh says:

    Damian Lewis killed that entire episode, Danes was good but how long was she really in the midst of it all… this should have been Lewis hands down.

  16. Matt says:

    Anna Torv from Friday 11/2 episode of “Fringe”. Beautiful performance!

  17. Sarabi says:

    She’s amazing!

  18. Eves says:

    That was some serious superb acting by both Danes and Lewis. If I was to pick just one though, I’d say that Damian Lewis dominated that Q&A scene. Absolute perfection.