(The following stories contains spoilers through the first 10 episodes of “Homeland” Season 8)
“Homeland’s” final season finds Carrie and Saul dealing with yet another geopolitical crisis, this time averting a nuclear war between the United States and Pakistan. And in Sam Trammell’s Benjamin Hayes, they have — by his own admission — probably the worst (fictional) person you could think of to handle a major global crisis.
“[Showrunners Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon] were really looking in the last season to have somebody in the Oval Office that was kind of in over his head and not up to the challenge,” Trammell told TheWrap. “And then, to give that person the ultimate, geopolitical emergency.”
Hayes is not the first politician whose role is to serve as an obstacle for Carrie (Claire Danes) and Saul (Mandy Patinkin) during the eight-year run of the espionage thriller. But where most have had some nefarious backstory or ulterior motive, Hayes is simply someone who is just not cut out for the role he’s in, says Trammell. It explains how he quickly finds comfort in Hugh Dancy’s John Zabel, a hard-line political advisor who immediately ruffles the feathers of David Wellington (Linus Roache), the president’s chief of staff.
“He’s definitely somebody that I think [Hayes] went fishing and looking for somebody who kind of was can share more of my sensibilities, which is, you know, a little more hawkish, a little less trust, a little less patient with Saul’s strategy,” Trammell continues. “That’s the thing about this President. He doesn’t have a strong, strong backbone at this point. He’s kind of at a loss. He’s kind of freaked out and scared. He’s scared about the position he’s in.”
Trammell adds that Hayes is a mix of George W. Bush, Lyndon B. Johnson (after all, he’s the only modern president who had to assume the job following the sudden death of a president) and, of course, Donald Trump.
“Alex kind of imagined him as a young Paul Ryan to begin with,” he said. “There really is nobody specific at all that I could model him after. There’s definitely an element of a lot of different people.”
“Homeland” airs Sunday at 9 p.m. PT/ET on Showtime.