I bet, being a BIG Elvis fan, Damian would approve my title for this piece 🙂
Well, tell me, what could be a better day than combining a shopping trip to Ikea in Charlotte with a quick visit to my Homeland Mecca?
Even though Brody family resides at 3319 West Chapman Street in Alexandria, Virginia, Homeland was shot in North Carolina before they moved to South Africa for Season 4. They filmed the first three seasons mostly in Charlotte, a two-and-a-half hour drive from our house. And, I never even tried to visit the set thinking they would always be there and I could always visit one day… Oh, yes, I did not see it coming – shoot me!
The Brody house was at the core of Homeland in many ways in the first three seasons. It is the place where it all started and also ended in a way…
This is the place where Nicholas Brody started once again from scratch to bond with his wife and kids whom he had not known anymore…
This is the place where Brody faced his inner demons and put the suicide vest on…
This is the place where Carrie started to get to know Brody… well, a bit too intimately… and maybe even felt something for him…
This is the place where Brody, knowing he did not belong there anymore, said his final good-bye to Jess and left his family for Carrie. And, finally, this is the place where Carrie brought her baby daughter Frannie to tell her about her dad…
Being a big believer in the motto “better late than never”, I paid a visit to the Brody House in October 2015. The house is located in a beautiful neighborhood in Charlotte, on a tree-lined street that ends on a cul-de-sac and surrounded by a number of creeks.
Halloween was fast approaching in the US at the time, so the owners had a big pumpkin at the door, and decorated the “famous tree” where the Brody family had a yellow ribbon on for years thinking that Brody was killed in a military mission in Iraq.
So, how did they choose this particular house as the Brody family house?
Director Michael Cuesta wanted a “ranch house” with long hallways that would allow for continuous shots as a scene progresses. Production designer John Kretschmer explains: “Those hallways provide for a lot of close interactions and good dramatic tension. If you’re mad at your parents, you can storm off down the hall to your room.”
Haha, we saw Dana doing exactly THAT many, many times, didn’t we? 🙂
Patti Podesta, production Designer for the pilot episode, adds they also wanted to keep a 1980s feeling in the house. She says:
“One of the ideas was that this had been Brody’s mom’s house, and they had moved into it, and then she died while he was away.” (source: Homeland Revealed by Matthew Hurwitz. 2014. Chronicle Books. Page 34)
Remember Brody asking after his mom as soon as he gets to see Jess and tje kids?
Once Homeland was picked up by Showtime as a series, they constructed a replica of the Brody house on set but still continued to use the front and back of the house for exterior scenes.
They also deliberately retained the eight-feet-high ceilings of the real house as they constructed the replica on set. Michael Cuesta explains why it was important for him: “I wanted those low ceilings. I wanted it to feel slightly claustrophobic for Brody, almost like the house is a prison to him.” (Source: Homeland Revealed by Matthew Hurwitz, 2014. Page 34)
I did research to find a word or two Damian had to say about the Brody house. And the only thing I could find out, and it is hilarious, is a comment he makes while giving a tour of the replica house on set to an interviewer from Men’s Journal:
“The real house where we shoot the exteriors smells of cat urine.”
And, here is what the previous owner (the house has been sold in 2013) Vickie Tetrault told Charlotte TV station WCNC about her experience with Homeland cast and crew:
Vicki Tetrault was approached by Homeland’s production company after they had “looked at some 40 houses” in the area. They decided to choose this particular house because it was one story, so that the crew would not have to “lug cameras upstairs.” Before filming the first season, the production company re-did the interiors. They replaced the wallpaper, added light fixtures, re-painted the kitchen and switched out all of the furniture. (The furniture is put back in its place after filming each season.) The shooting was so involved Tetrault went to stay with her brother to keep out of the crew’s way. Tetrault also said “Homeland” fans were coming up to the house to take pictures. And she added with a laugh: “Last year I thought I’d put a sign out saying ‘Brody doesn’t live here,’ you know?”
When asked if she’d ever taken pictures with stars Damian Lewis and Claire Danes, Tetreault said she met them both but has never asked for photos. “I hate to be too much of a tourist, you know,” she told.
Hmmm… If it had been me… the walls of that house would have been full of pictures with the whole cast and crew, and signed by them, too! I am more than happy to be too much of a tourist when Homeland, in particular Nicholas Brody, is concerned 🙂
Oh, and, I would probably never have sold the house, either 😀 Tetrault sold the house in December 2013, and according to news reports, she sold it in a single day, after receiving five offers, and above the asking price, too!
Here is the Real Estate Ad for the house when it was on sale!
“Must see in Southpark! Actually you’ve probably already seen Sgt Brody’s home on Showtime’s “Homeland.” Beautiful contemporary style home, clean lines. Spacious foyer with wall of windows, large master with dual closets. Half acre flat lot perfect for playing, entertaining, or add an in-ground pool. Home has great bones, all hardwoods except kitch & Den. Baths need updating. Incredible buy.”
Incredible buy indeed… You think Homeland made a difference in the sale? Who knows? Maybe in bidding wars because it seems the house was sold quickly and over the asking price. Having said that, it turns out the new owners were not aware of Homeland. I am pretty sure they have quickly got used to Homeland fans, like me, stopping in front of the house and taking a few pictures with a big smile on their faces!
Honestly, I have not been to any place in Charlotte other than the airport, IKEA and Brody House… But, NY Times says there is a lot to do in the city… So, if you happen to be in the Queen city of the South, here is how you can spend some fun 36 hours. ENJOY!