Salisbury is 'Homeland' territory this week

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 9, 2012

By Sarah Hall
For the Salisbury Post
It’s not unusual to see joggers in Salisbury’s Hurley Park. But it is uncommon for the joggers to be surrounded by a film crew.
This particular jogger, being filmed as he crossed the bridge near the park’s gazebo Wednesday morning, was none other than actor Damian Lewis in his lead role as Nicholas Brody from the hit Showtime series “Homeland.” In take after take, Lewis trotted over the bridge, started up the path toward Rowan Regional Medical Center, but then stopped and looked at a woman sitting on the block wall in front of the gazebo. He would turn as if to resume jogging, hesitate again, then go over and speak to her.
Who is this woman, and what are they talking about? “Homeland” fans will have to wait until November to find out when episode seven of the show’s second season airs.
“Homeland” cast and crew have spent the week in Salisbury with a significant amount of filming taking place inside a private residence. The crew has been using the parking lot at North Hills Christian School as a base of operation.
According to the show’s location manager, Jason King, they have also been doing some drive-by filming of various Salisbury locations which may show up now and then in season two.
“This has been a wonderful experience,” says King. “The folks here in Salisbury have been great to work with.”
The first film truck arrived among the blooms at Hurley Park at 6:45 a.m. A few hours later, a convoy of trucks and vans lined North Craige Street, and a crew of more than 40 people were busy making the one brief scene between Brody and the unnamed woman as perfect as possible.
After the fifth take, Brody was apparently not perspiring sufficiently through his gray T-shirt, because a makeup woman went to work on Lewis with a spray bottle.
The crew wrapped up about noon. It had taken all morning to shoot a scene that lasts only a couple minutes.
Tom Dean, the rigging and electrical best boy for the morning shoot, is well acquainted with the huge amount of behind-the-scenes work that goes into making a TV show. He was one of the first to arrive for the Hurley Park filming. He has worked in the film industry for 20 years in different parts of the country, and he’s happy that with “Homeland” being filmed largely in and around Charlotte, he and his wife have been able to move back to their native Carolina homeland.
Tax incentives that North Carolina now gives to the film industry are leading to more and more movies and TV shows being filmed here. “Homeland” is set mostly in the Washington, D.C., area, but the producers chose Charlotte as the film site with its similarity in architecture and environment. Much of what we see on the screen as our nation’s capital is actually in downtown Charlotte. And the Brodys’ modest ranch-style house is really in Charlotte’s Mountainbrook neighborhood, not Northern Virginia.
The geographical advantage is not the only reason Dean is happy to work for “Homeland.”
“I’ve seen lots of scripts over the past 20 years,” he says. “But I have never looked forward to getting the next script as much as I do with this show. Every episode is a cliff-hanger. I’m always excited to see what happens next.”
The show revolves around American Marine Sgt. Nick Brody (Damian Lewis) who has returned home after spending eight years as a prisoner of war in Iraq, held by members of Al Qaeda. CIA agent Carrie Mathison, played by actress Claire Danes, suspects that Brody is not really the hero he is made out to be, and instead may be in collusion with his former captors, plotting an attack on American soil. She has trouble convincing the authorities her suspicions are correct, and her battle with bipolar disease impedes her efforts, but she is determined to stop the future assault on the U.S. The show also features Tony-winner Mandy Patinkin as CIA agent Saul Berenson, Mathison’s mentor and friend.
Even though “Homeland” has been on the air for only 12 episodes, it has more Emmy nominations than any new series, including the Outstanding Drama category. Lewis and Danes are both up for lead acting nominations.
The show begins airing its second season on the Showtime network Sunday, Sept. 30.