SPOILER ALERT: The story includes details about the Season 6 finale of Homeland.
Homeland’s leading men tend to have pretty short expiration dates though they die as heroes. Damian Lewis’s Brody started off as a traitor before redeeming himself and dying for his country in the Season 3 finale. His mantle was carried by another British actor, Rupert Friend. His enigmatic assassin Peter Quinn started off as a recurring character in Season 2 originally brought in to kill Brody before working his way to a male lead position in the most recent sixth season. (Friend, who earned a guest actor Emmy nomination for his first season on Homeland, is being submitted in the lead actor category for the first time this year). Just like Brody, Peter sacrificed himself in the Season 6 finale, driving through a line of fire to save the life of the President-elect. He leaves behind several other male characters on the show, Mandy Patinkin’s Saul, F. Murray Abraham’s Dar, and Maury Sterling’s Max.
In an interview with Deadline, Friend, who appeared genuinely surprised that the news of Quinn’s demise had not leaked before last night’s finale, talks about his humble beginnings on Homeland as a bit player and Quinn’s difficult journey cheating death a number of times, including coming extremely close in the Season 5 cliffhanger in the hospital. Friend describes when he found out that Quinn would die in Season 6, what it was like filming his final scene and the injury he suffered while doing it. He addresses the perils of being a Homeland leading man and why Quinn and Carrie never became romantic, shares what scene he wanted to see in the finale and what he will miss most about the show. You can watch Homeland‘s tribute to Peter Quinn after the Q&A.
DEADLINE: How did you get cast on Homeland and what were you original expectations about how long the stint would last?
FRIEND: I got the role by auditioning seven times for a range of different producers from England via tape. I wasn’t told anything about it. When I got the role, I had two weeks to move to North Carolina and then it was a week to week thing, they didn’t tell me how long I was on the season, so I didn’t know whether it would be six months or six weeks. And I think once that season finished and they realized that I was not going to kill Brody, they thought that there was potentially more to explore about this guy, so I came back the following season.
DEADLINE: What was it like to play Peter Quinn – he went to a lot of dark places over the last few years, dealt with alcoholism and PTSD.
FRIEND: The poor guy ran the gamut of abuse – both self-abuse and being abused – and torture, alcoholism, psychological disorders, physical impairments, being shot, stabbed, the aphasia (brain damage), trying to commit suicide, being gassed, falling into a coma, being woken up from a coma, being shot again, surviving a bomb. He went through pretty much anything anybody would hope to not go through in their life. In a sense, I’m grateful that he found some peace now even if he didn’t necessarily choose to do so.
DEADLINE: When did you find out that Season 6 would be your last?
FRIEND: It was only a few weeks before we shot the finale that aired last night. Alex Gansa, the showrunner, took me aside or called me, I forget which, and said, ‘This season will be Quinn’s last’. But then he said, ‘As you know I said that to you last season so don’t believe everything I say’.
DEADLINE: Was Peter really supposed to die in the hospital after Berlin?
FRIEND: I was told that he was going to die in the hospital and that was the end of it. And then Alex and the gang changed their minds and we got a Season 6.
DEADLINE: What ending for your character were you hoping for? Would you have liked for him to find some happiness? What is the ideal happily ever after you’d envisioned for Peter?
FRIEND: I never envisioned a happily ever after. The only thing that I missed, that I would’ve liked, would be to see the way that his memorial was. I’d like to know how those people who got to know him sent him off in a private way, presumably, in I hope a truthful way. That would be an interesting thing to have experienced.
DEADLINE: There were some romantic sparks between Peter and Carrie over the years, and there was the letter he left for her when he was leaving on a dangerous mission, the photo of her she found among his things after his death. Why do you think the romance between them never fully developed?
FRIEND: I think because as the seasons developed, you start to see that Quinn’s moral code is actually very different than Carrie’s, as somebody who I believe has a lot of integrity and questions his actions and the effects those actions have on other people. I think that Carrie is less and less doing that and is charging forward blindly without necessarily taking accountability for the consequences of her actions, and I think that those two moral codes are fundamentally incompatible. I think in Season 6 Quinn is very much not interested in pursuing anything with somebody whose selfishness actually caused his condition.
DEADLINE: Could it also because those closest to him tend to get hurt like Astid did?
FRIEND: No, I think that any man that Carrie gets close to dies, divorces or loses their job.
DEADLINE: That is true, Homeland’s two leading men, Brody and Quinn, both have now died.
FRIEND (laughs): I think there is a cross for Saul and Max – I wish them all the best.
DEADLINE: How was it to film Peter’s final scene in the car?
FRIEND: That was actually four separate days spread over two weeks. It was pieced together from multiple locations so we had to do it over and over and over again. We had extras but we also had bystanders, members of the public watching this quite frightening game of chicken between the SUV and the barricade of solders, and then the death which was shot in multiple locations. On one of the locations I had a ‘squib’, a small explosive device in my jacket designed to explode and throw blood to look like I’d been shot. It exploded in the wrong place on the side of my face and the blood went off and blinded my eye, so we had to stop for the day. So it’s a mixed memory for sure.
DEADLINE: It was a tough final run for you, you also suffered a foot injury in Season 6.
FRIEND: That actually was sustained over multiple seasons of Homeland. It was weakened ankle ligament which was sustained from running down stone, concrete stairs in Season 4 and then jumping through a window into an unsecured rug in Season 5 and rolling my ankle on both occasions, swelling up. I continued to work on a sprained ankle and that weakened it so this season the ankle gave away and my foot broke.
DEADLINE: Was your injury written into the story?
FRIEND: No, because we decided that Peter would have a condition called dropped foot, which means that you are not able to have flexion in your ankle on one side. Unfortunately we decided that before I broke my foot, and I broke the other foot. So I ended up faking a broken foot while limping on a broken foot.
DEADLINE: What will you miss the most about Homeland?
FRIEND: Peter Quinn, absolutely, he has been a dear friend of mine, and I’m sad to see him go but I’m happy that he’s at rest now.
DEADLINE: What is next for you? What do you want to do?
FRIEND: I’m enjoying having time off, I’m enjoying not moving straight onto another film set. I’m enjoying not inhabiting another mindset, and I’m enjoying waiting to allow my curiosity to lead me.