For everyone who mourned the loss of Nicholas Brody at the end of Homeland‘s third season, the hit Showtime series would like to point you in the direction of Peter Quinn. A stoic foil and confidant to Claire Danes‘ Carrie Mathison, Rupert Friend quickly filled any male lead holes left by Brody. But it was a role that almost didn’t come to be; it took Friend seven audition tapes—including one shot out of focus—before he finally landed the part. “After the sixth one, I was just like, ‘I’m fine, I’ll do something else.'” Friend recalls. “My agent begged me to do one more, and that was the one. Two weeks later, I was on set.” The rest is TV history. Here, Friend talks about his first on-screen role, which saw him acting opposite Johnny Depp, his Homeland character, and why Daniel Day-Lewis is his ultimate cinematic crush.
How old were you when you realized you wanted to be an actor?
Quite old, relatively speaking. I didn’t have a realization of wanting to be an actor; I had a realization of not wanting to do one thing solely for the rest of my life. the way that the education was structured in England was such that these young children are asked, “What would you like to do at University for three years?” Basically these young teenagers are being asked to decide what they’re going to do for the rest of their lives before they’ve even had a chance to explore the world, which I’ve found ridiculous and still find very strange. It became crippling to me, this decision of, “What are you going to do?” And the only job that I could sort of think about that was different every day and challenged you in different ways every day was acting. You didn’t have to be a lawyer or an astronaut. You could be both. I haven’t actually gotten to be either yet, but there’s still time.
Do you remember your first audition?
Actually, the first thing professionally was The Libertine, which was my first job. I’d never seen a film camera before. I didn’t know what a call sheet was. I didn’t know what marks were. And you’re opposite Johnny Depp and John Malkovich and Samantha Morton. I was beyond nervous. I had to make out with Johnny, mutually masturbate with Johnny, get run through by a pike, and die in front of him. It was such a deep-end baptism by fire.
Did you miss the stage after you started doing films?
No, I’ve never missed the stage. I love film because I love the capturing of accidents. Some of those incredible moments that have chilled us when we watch them or perform them, come not from having honed or refined something but from something instinctive, something primal; something accidental or serendipitous, and I think that’s where I thrive. I also know that there have been thrilling theatrical performances. I went to see Mark Rylance in “Jerusalem” three times in three different theaters. He was so inventive and fearless, and I love that kind of courage when actors make those bold choices. It’s always exciting.
Speaking of courage, let’s talk about Peter Quinn, your character on Homeland. How did that role come to you?
I made a tape and sent it in, but it was made on a point and click camera where the ratio was wrong, so it was out of focus. I was wearing the wrong thing. I filmed it against a door that I later learned they told me looked like I was in a mental asylum. I did seven separate audition tapes for this once scene. After the sixth one, I was just like, “I’m fine, I’ll do something else.” My agent begged me to do one more, and that was the one. Two weeks later, I was on set. I’d never done television. I’d never signed an option for multiple years of a series. I’d never done something where I hadn’t read the script.
Do you feel the prescience of some of the storylines of the show and what is going on in the real world?
People have asked us for the right to have crystal balls. They do consult with the intelligence community before they start writing a season on what is going on, and typically the intelligence community is a little bit ahead of us, certainly, and the news sources, and maybe even the government. So there’s that, but also the writers only write a handful of episodes before we start. So by the time we’re halfway through a season, they’re writing them and handing us the pages on the day. In that way, it puts you right on your toes and it does feel much more like a dance of some kind, rather than a prepared rhetoric.
The character you play is such a good person but at the same time, such a complicated, difficult person
He lived a life that he couldn’t share with anyone, and one of the things that struck me as very tragic about him is that he’s never trusted anybody. The idea that you’d go through your whole life and hit your mid-30s and never have had the trust of another human being is incredibly sad for me, for him.
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“In the show I play an abused woman, and I felt very exposed and deeply humiliated. I remember lying on the floor in the bathroom at the end of a difficult scene, and I wouldn’t get up between takes. I was just lying there, basically naked in half-torn underwear, and Jean-Marc Vallée [the director] would come over and place a towel over me. It was very hard.”
Kidman wears a Miu Miu dress and coat.
“As a girl, I was obsessed with the program 20/20—especially with the coanchor Hugh Downs. I thought I was going to marry Hugh Downs for a really long time. He was so dignified. Everything was going to be all right because Hugh Downs was going to tell you the important story you needed to know that Friday night. They just don’t do newsmen like him anymore.”
Marling wears a Prada dress.
“My first crush was Jessica Lange in Tootsie. I was maybe 8 or 9 when I first saw the movie, and I had never felt anything for a girl before that. I was just mesmerized by her. I watched the film over and over again because of Jessica Lange. I’m still not over her. Every time I meet someone, I compare her to Jessica Lange in Tootsie. That’s probably why I’m not married.”
Skarsgård wears a Cleverly Laundry robe; Schiesser Revival shirt.
“The Americans mostly takes place in the ’80s, during the Cold War. Anytime you’re wearing clothes that are unlike yours, it just heightens the moment. When I wear heels and silk shirts, slacks and blouses, it makes me feel like an adult. On the show, I wear a cat eye with black eyeliner, and it makes me feel like a panther. It’s so unlike me as Keri—this tired mom in flip-flops and jeans. And I love that transformation.”
Russell wears a Michael Kors Collection top; Philosophy briefs; Manolo Blahnik shoes; Louis Vuitton bracelet.
“For Homeland, I made an audition tape with a point-and-click camera and sent it in. The ratio was off. It was out of focus. I was also wearing the wrong thing, and I filmed it against a door that they later told me made it look like I was in a mental asylum. The producers were like, ‘Where the hell is this kid?!’ In the end, I did seven separate audition tapes of the same scene. They finally said yes.”
Friend wears an Hermès sweater; Sunspel boxers; his own ring and socks.
“I went to work on The Crown four months after giving birth. The queen didn’t wear a corset, but I did in the beginning. Now, in the second season, I have to wear a significantly padded brassiere. In the first season, it was all my own breast work, but now it’s ‘Ha! Where have they gone?’ The queen would be so ashamed of me.”
Foy wears a Louis Vuitton dress; Messika Paris bracelet.
“I usually get stopped in the U.K. before I board a plane. What’s funny is that Heathrow is in a heavily South Asian neighborhood, and the kids working at the airport are fans of mine. So while they’re swabbing me for explosives, they’re asking me for selfies. While they’re going through my underwear, they’re quoting my raps back at me. It’s quite a surreal experience that speaks to the insider/outsider status I’ve felt all my life.”
Ahmed wears a Bottega Veneta sweater; Jeffrey Rüdes pants.
“Even with the show, I still live at home in Liverpool. I can’t bring myself to leave just yet. My brother is 21 and he’s still at home, too. I said to my mom, ‘We’re going to be 30-, 40-odd years old and we’re still going to be living in the kids’ rooms.’ I’m hoping I will be able to leave the nest at some point.”
Comer wears a Marc Jacobs dress; Jennifer Meyer necklace; Larkspur & Hawk ring.
“During the screen test for Stranger Things, one of the directors came up to me and said, ‘Bzzz,’ over my head. He then asked, ‘Are you ready?’ I was like, ‘For what?’ And he said, ‘To cut all your hair off!’ The next day I got the job and I cut it. My hair was down to here, but it’s only hair. After that, I was called ‘boy’ a lot.”
Brown wears a Balenciaga dress and tights; Chanel shoes; Jennifer Meyer ring.
“I worked at McDonald’s for a few months, and I got a couple of dates from taking orders at the drive-through window. I was enrolled in an acting class, and I would practice different accents. I was really bad, but people believed me. A young lady would say, ‘Oh, I forgot to order the strawberry milkshake’ and ask me about my Italian or Irish or Brooklyn accent. We would go out on a date, go back to the McDonald’s parking lot, and make out. Eventually, I had to break it to them that I wasn’t Italian or Irish or from New York. The girls would usually end it right then and there.”
Franco wears a Prada shirt.
“In playing Albert Einstein, I found out that he was not the archetypal absentminded professor. He was an energetic, slightly rebellious, rakish, sort-of-bohemian poet. And he was quite amorous—he had many lovers. Einstein wasn’t exactly a ‘player,’ but he enjoyed women, and when his first marriage fell apart, he became what you would call a ladies’ man. He gave up on monogamy.”
Flynn wears a Calvin Klein Jeans Established 1978 jacket and pants.
“My dad, Stan Lathan, was one of the first black TV directors. He used to direct Sesame Street, and he blindfolded me once, and when he took the blindfold off, I was on the set. I got to meet Big Bird. It was my birthday, and the whole cast sang to me. That was the biggest thrill of my life.”
Lathan wears a Lanvin coat.
“I’m not a big crier. But family stuff gets to me. Fathers and brothers and children. If I wasn’t on This Is Us, I’d be a wet noodle watching the show. I’d be crying along with everyone else.”
Ventimiglia wears a Current/Elliott shirt; his own chain.
Were you sad to say goodbye?
I was sad because I’ve never gotten to know somebody so well who is not a real person. We didn’t get to see how this guy was memorialized. He asked not to have anything official and he wouldn’t have been allowed to anyway because his work was never acknowledged because it was basically on the gray side of the law. He says in the letter that he wrote, “Don’t put a star on the wall for me or say some dumb speech,” but I was very interested to learn, how did Carrie mourn him? How did Saul, how did Dar, Max, these people who had known him, and in some cases maybe even loved him, but knew they couldn’t publicly commemorate him, how did they celebrate this man? I’ve just felt since the season finished, this outpouring of love and support, and in some cases fury, from very loyal fans who I think are conducting their own memorial for this character in their own way, which is beautiful.
Did you ever have a fictional crush of your own?
My first girl cinematic crush was probably Ursula Andress in Dr. No. Coming out of the sea with your little knife and this idea of agency. You’re sort of a bad ass. You’re not some kind of damsel in distress. She was tough. And then [Marlon] Brando. The first time I saw A Streetcar Named Desire, I was probably twelve and my mom sat me down in front of it. I wasn’t thinking about acting at the time; my interest was that somebody could become someone else—not pretend to or demonstrate that they were—but actually become, and that led me onto the work of the incomparable Daniel Day-Lewis who is today still my hero. Seeing My Left Foot and then Last of the Mohicans moments later and realizing it was the same person, it’s still kind of mind-boggling to me. I still look for that transformative quality in actors. I adore it, as opposed to the sort of more movie star thing where people create a brand and then just sort of keep doing it.
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