‘Homeland’ at home in Cape Town

2014-06-30 00:00

Darling Street stands in

for Islamabad

IN a yellow and black taxi — a battered old Datsun 120Y — the American Claire Danes shivers under her blue hijab.

On the bustling street around the taxi, bearded men wear flowing robes and tuk-tuks puff exhaust fumes into the grid-locked traffic. Just another normal street scene in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Only this is not Islamabad, but Darling Street in Cape Town, where the American television series Homeland is being filmed until November.

The political thriller is mostly set in America and the Middle East and the first three seasons were filmed in Israel, Puerto Rico and Morocco.

Now it is the Cape Town extras’ turn to act on the same set as Danes, who plays the role of Carrie Mathison, a CIA officer suffering from bipolar depression.

Just off camera, a gaffer is using a smoke machine to create the effect of exhaust fumes and a carton to spread the smoke a bit.

And … action!

The traffic light turns red and a group of young beggars throng the Toyota taxi in front of the Datsun, then they beseech Mathison, who stuffs a few rupees into clutching hands.

The traffic moves and the beggars dance and jig back to the sidewalk.

Annnd cut!

The cars’ reverse lights come on as everyone shuffles back to assume their original positions. At the last minute, one of the beggars dashes back to the car to hand the rupees back to Mathison.

Annnd … action! The young beggars repeat their scene.

Take five!

The tired, furtive-looking Mathison gets out of the cramped Datsun and becomes a leggy, confident blonde, shrugging herself into a warm ski-jacket against the chilly morning air as she talks animatedly on her cellphone before cuddling someone’s baby and talking to fellow actors.

Places everyone!

Off comes the ski-jacket and as the confident Danes slips back into the Datsun, she dons the character of the jittery Mathison like another coat.

Annnnd ... action!

Next to you an American accent explains: “She will come out of the hotel, get into a taxi and then move through here.” Here being the Eastern Food Bazaar with its Middle East atmosphere.

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