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Emmy Hopeful: Morena Baccarin - 'Homeland'

Entertainment Tonight, Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 8:28am (PDT)

After three Golden Globe nominations (with two wins for Best Drama and Best Actress, Claire Danes), it's clear that Showtime's ingenious freshman series Homeland is an awards show frontrunner. And while series leads Damian Lewis and Danes are locks, as is a series nomination, I am also expecting to hear Morena Baccarin's name announced on July 19 in the Best Supporting Actress in a Drama category.

To play Jessica Brody, the wife of assumed P.O.W. and sleeper terrorist Nick Brody, the 33-year-old actress tapped into a reservoir of emotions genre fans have known about for years thanks to roles on cult hits Firefly and V. But with Homeland, Baccarin even surprised herself with the pain and power she was able to bring to the table. A duality which will serve her well in the currently filming second seasons since Baccarin tells me, the best is yet to come!

ETonline: What appealed to you about the pilot script for Homeland? Morena Baccarin: I take the jobs that I take for various reasons – mostly because they inspire me, which was also true here. But I like to be challenged as an actor and this was something I had never done before. This was such an inspirational story, such an inspirational character and when you combine that with a role I've never done before, it was a no-brainer.

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ETonline: This isn't just a role you've never played before, but these were characters that have never really been seen on television before. Baccarin: I know. Our writers were so bold and brave in the story they were telling of this soldier who comes home to everyone who thinks he's a war hero when in fact, he's a terrorist. Then you've also got Carrie, this brilliant F.B.I. agent who is also bipolar. We're exploring a lot of subject matters that aren't often touched upon on television. And that's exciting for us too.

ETonline: What was the toughest part about creating Jessica? Baccarin: The most daunting part was the arc of this woman who was married to a man that sacrificed himself for his country, who then had to deal with knowing he was captured while keeping things at home just as they were in case he does come home, but eventually coming to terms with the fact that he was probably dead, despite never knowing for certain or having closure. Then, when she finally allows herself to love again, she finds out her husband is alive and coming home. That arc was so daunting and so beautiful and so painful.

ETonline: As a fan, I had kind of wished Mike handled Brody's return differently. Does Jessica? Baccarin: The brilliant thing about the show is that it's so real and no one knows how to deal with anything. I do think Jessica wishes Mike had been bolder at certain points, but at the same time, she was very conflicted about what she wanted so she couldn't encourage him – it's a f*cked up situation all around. [laughs]

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ETonline: What scene(s) presented you with the biggest acting challenge? Baccarin: The pilot was incredibly difficult. That scene at the airport, I don't know how many million emotions you can feel in one second, but that's what was going on inside my character. And the scene where they try to be intimate for the first time was terribly draining and so vulnerable. Then the scenes with Mike, where she loves him so much but is trying desperately to be a good wife and a good mother – like I said, it's all so f*cked up. But it's also what makes you grow as an actor. That's what I love about this show. I've been challenged in ways that I never have been before. I feel that I have grown so much as an actor being on Homeland.

ETonline: What was your favorite scene that you were not in? Baccarin: I get so emotional when I think about [Dana talking to Nick in the season finale] because you find yourself sympathizing with Brody in that moment, which is insane because he's about to kill the vice president. But you see the family and you see the love between them – this little girl is about to lose her dad and it was heartbreaking. I love that our show is so unpredictable. You never expected that character to have that moment.

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ETonline: The season finale also set up Brody for political office. Jessica was very shy of the spotlight in season one, will that continue to be true? Baccarin: I think at first she was really scared because she just got her husband back, but you'll see in season two, Jessica gets really into it. She embraces it full on and it gives her a new sense of purpose. She starts to hobnob with "the women behind the men" in D.C. and as someone who has always stood behind her man, Jessica's ambition starts to come out a little more more. She grows a lot in season two and it's so exciting to see that.

ETonline: Fans have wondered if Jessica knows what Brody truly is and is just in denial. Did what Carrie said to her on the lawn sink in or is that just too unfathomable to her? Baccarin: Jessica didn't believe what Carrie said ... until ... well, we shot this emotionally draining scene for 12 hours recently that deals a bit with that. I can't give too much away, but let's just say that Jessica is no dummy.

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ETonline: Looking at season two, what are you excited for fans to see? Baccarin: It's going to be a very different story. Yes, it's the same characters and still very much about Brody being a terrorist and Carrie's illness, but it's a fast-paced season. I think fans are going to be breathless watching. These writers don't f*ck around – I would say that everyone should seriously expect the unexpected.

Homeland returns to Showtime on September 30.

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