Amidst the oft-twisted morality of the characters on Showtime's gripping CIA thriller Homeland (Sundays at 10 p.m. ET) is consummate boy scout (okay, U.S. Marine Captain) Mark Faber. In recent episodes, Faber (played with believable, familiar American folkiness by Canadian actor Diego Klattenhoff) emerges as the pure foil to former best friend and soldier-turned-terrorist-turned-triple-agent Nicholas Brody (Damien Lewis).
On a break from his tireless shooting schedule— did we mention he's also in Guillermo del Toro's upcoming, super-secretive science fiction film Pacific Rim?— the charming, witty Klattenhoff spoke to PARADE about playing the good guy, what to expect from the show's season finale, and squaring off onscreen with Claire Danes:
On his verbal sparring with Danes in "The Clearing" episode.
"You never know with Mike Faber [if he'll stop with his investigation into Brody]. [After the cameras stop] it's pretty mellow. Claire is the ultimate professional. It's amazing to get in there and try to duke it out with her since she's a bit of a monster. She's so great at her job that she can slip into that world and then later talk about babies or a new restaurant. There is pretty much zero improv is scenes like that and everything is pretty much on the page."
On whether they're afraid of their characters getting killed off.
"We're finished shooting season two but it was on everyone's mind who was going to go and what was going to happen. After the Gettysburg episode, you just don't know who is going to get punched next. It's kind of the good part of the show, not knowing what's going to happen."
Will we see a dark side to Mike?
"There are whips and chains, things with him and Jessica [Brody, played by Morena Baccarin]. No, I think Mike is a moral compass. What is right is right and he'll always look after the family, Jess, and Brody but something is rotten in Denmark. Mike will always try to do the right thing."
On playing an American solider as a Canadian.
"I was fortunate enough to spend some days with guys in Santa Fe who were headed off to Afghanistan. Just talking with them to understand why they do what they do, how they cope. We have our share of military [in Canada] though not nearly to the extent here in America. So you just try to understand and relate to it and translate it to the character's experience."
When he realized Homeland was special.
"As soon as I read it, I knew. I think that was like everyone who is involved in the show. By the time you finished that first script you were completely hooked. The caliber of writing, the creative side and the cast, from the get-go it was obvious it wasn't going to be a run-of-the-mill show. We shoot the show in a little bit of a bubble and it's amazing to see the reaction. It's been fantastic."
Spoiler alert? On the on-set secrecy.
"They tell us to shut our mouths and we shut our mouths. There is certain protocol for getting scripts and rewrites. I've never been a part of something like that, well I have for Pacific Rim, which I cannot talk about. You never know what's going to happen. We were hearing on Breaking Bad that people had rented a helicopter to scope out the last episode while they were shooting. You never know so it's better to be safe than sorry. For our finale, they issued us hard copies of the script and it's watermarked with your name. So you just don't be an idiot and leave it at a Starbucks or read it on a plane too much. I generally fear the wrath of the studio and the writers."
On the Homeland bubble in North Carolina.
"It's great. You couldn't be trapped with better people on a desert island. As good as everybody is at their job, they're fun to hang out with. There is always a dinner party or someone is organizing golf or bowling or a dance party. It's a fun group.
How his life has changed.
"People didn't stop me before for a guest spot that I did on Smallville. Nothing against Smallville but people didn't freak out in traffic to tell me they love my show. It's cool being in a New York restaurant full of hipsters and New York people. Michael Cera and Jude Law are there and you don't expect anything. And then the waiter turns suddenly and says, 'I love your show man, from one actor to another, I have to say, I love it.' And meeting people you admire who are fans of your show. It's pretty surreal."
On the finale [which airs December 16].
"There is no letting up. Thinks get darker and spin faster and faster. Inevitably lots of major sh-t goes down. It literally gets darker and goes down the rabbit hole."
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