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For Morgan Saylor, there's no place like 'Homeland'

The actress who plays Dana Brody on the Showtime drama talks about her character's personal turmoils, and her own (less tumultuous) challenges.

Homeland, Morgan Saylor, Showtime "Homeland" airs on Sunday nights at 9 on Showtime.

Morgan Saylor is cheery when we get her on the phone, which, we have to admit, surprises us a little, given the fact that when we saw her character last week, she had (spoiler alert!) tried to kill herself.

“I’m not as depressed in real life,” says the 18-year-old, who plays Dana Brody on “Homeland.” As the daughter of is-he-or-isn’t-he alleged terrorist Nicholas Brody on the runaway Showtime hit, Saylor’s character has undergone a lot in the past two seasons: allegations against her father, an accidental hit-and-run, the death of her boyfriend and, as we saw last week, a stint in rehab for a suicide attempt. And according to Saylor, the drama’s only just begun.

Now in its third season, the show — which has won six Emmys and five Golden Globes in the two years it’s been on — is dealing with the aftermath of a deadly explosion that left many supporting characters dead in the Season 2 finale. Saylor says she was just as riveted by that episode as fans were.

“I remember reading it and freaking out,” she says. “I really, really did. I thought it was such a brilliant script. I remember I texted Morena [Baccarin], who plays my mom, and I was like, ‘We are on the best show on TV,’ because I was so amazed by this script. And she texted back, ‘Are you drunk?’ She thought I was just being weird and nostalgic.”

Saylor doesn’t offer too many hints into what we can expect in this new season — which she calls “really, really intense.” She’s about 10 episodes ahead of the general public and coyly tells us, “It’s finally all spreading out. It’s very exciting.”

But back to the present: This season, she says, the characters will be “picking up the pieces that were left after the explosion,” an incident that was “especially hard on Dana.”

This Sunday’s episode focuses heavily on her character, as Dana juggles new experiences of heartache, loss, love and lust.

“She needs someone who understands what she’s [going through],” Saylor says of her new beau, played by “Dexter” alum Sam Underwood. “As if being a teenager isn’t enough!”

When “Homeland” heroine Claire Danes took home the Best Actress in a Drama Emmy this year for her work as bipolar CIA agent Carrie Mathison, the cast joined Danes in celebrating after the awards, Saylor tells us.

“We all went to the Governors Ball. We scarfed down some food, which was nice. Then I went to an afterparty. It was fun. It’s always fun to hang out with everybody because I don’t work that much with Damian or Claire so it’s a fun atmosphere to hang out with the gang.”

The young star is content to keep as normal of a life as possible when she’s not filming. She went to her prom this year and plans to study math at the University of Chicago, which she’ll attend starting next September. (She deferred a year.) But juggling the show with her regular life means she’s had to sacrifice a lot of sleep.

“The very first day of shooting this year, I had to work super long hours; it was exhausting,” she says. “But then I drove home that night to Atlanta, I got there at 3 a.m., I had graduation practice the next day at 8 a.m., and then graduated that night. Then I had to go back to Charlotte for work.”

As if being a teenager isn’t enough, indeed.

 
 
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