Morena Baccarin

VIEWERS will be more familiar with Morena Baccarin as Anna in the sci-fi remake of V. And she was a commanding presence when taking ownership of the lead role, which was formerly essayed by Jane Badler back in 1984.

These days, Baccarin is making waves in a more domesticated albeit conflicted role as Jessica Brody in M-Net’s gripping new drama, Homeland. She plays the wife of Nicholas Brody, a US Marine who returned home a hero – he spent several years as a prisoner by the al-Qaeda before being rescued.

With the series shot in and around Charlotte, North Carolina, which was the closest match for Virginia and Washington, DC, Baccarin says, “We were all sort of living in the same building, and it’s just a nice environment to be around. I think it made us closer as there’s not a whole lot to do in Charlotte. So you can focus on your work.”

On slipping into a role, she laughs, “I’m just excited to be playing a human being. You know, I loved V very much and in Joss Whedon’s Firefly universe, I was very human but it was stylised and very different. It feels nice to be dealing with something that is deeply, deeply a human struggle and not everyday, because these are extraordinary circumstances that we are playing in. This is a no-brainer, especially with the talent involved. It’s just wonderful.”

Interestingly enough, Baccarin and Claire Danes were classmates; both attended the New York City Lab School for Collaborative Studies.

The American-Brazilian actress found herself cast in more action and sci-fi roles since making her debut in Perfume in 2001.

Since then, she has planted her foot more firmly in the medium with Stargate SG-1, Stargate: The Ark of Truth and Serenity, among her array of cameo appearances.

Famed for her cropped short hairdo, Baccarin has to transform her look to fit in with the whole- some family image demanded by the script.

She says, “We had hair discussions because, you know, my face for V was the face of that weird alien thing. So we wanted to change that a little bit. And I’m dying to grow my hair out… and just haven’t been able to for four years. So we do a fall with some other things to make it (the hair) look natural.”

As for the show coming on the back of the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 in the US, executive producer Howard Gordon says, “It turned out to be quite fortuitous, as are a number of things that seem to, I think, affect the way this show is going to be viewed.

“Osama bin Laden was killed when we were on episode 2, eerily like the scene of Damian’s rescue. As Alex (Gansa) said, a story has not been told about what’s the price of 9/11 to this country.

“And this show is very much in the wake of that… but 10 years later. The timing of it is significant, accidental and fortuitous.”

The script is compelling, clever and, combined with the brilliant casting, makes Homeland a stellar offering. And Baccarin, in a more understated performance, is just as captivating as a tolerant wife trapped in the most heartbreaking of circumstances.

• Homeland airs on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) on Wednesday at 8.30pm.