“We’re living in a golden age of television,” says director Lesli Linka Glatter more than a few times during our exclusive video interview from her home in the Pacific Palisades. She should know: Glatter is a veteran of over 60 TV shows and movies, with credits ranging from “Twin Peaks” to “Mad Men,” “The West Wing” to “Gilmore Girls,” “The Walking Dead” to “E.R.,” and so on, and so on. (Watch our complete video chat below.)
She’s now the producing director of “Homeland,” for which she just won her second DGA Award (for the episode “From A to B and Back Again”); she previously prevailed for an episode of “Mad Men” (“Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency,” 2009) and has been nominated twice before for “Homeland” (“Q&A,” 2012; “The Star,” 2013) and once for “Twin Peaks” (“Episode 13,” 1990).
She also received an Oscar nod for her first film, a short filmed in Japan titled “Tales of Meeting and Parting” (1984), as well as two Emmy bids, for her work on “Homeland” (“Q&A,” 2013) and “Mad Men” (“Guy Walks …,” 2010). So to say she knows what she’s talking about might be a bit of an understatement.
We touched upon a variety of subjects during our lengthy chat, from her background as a modern dancer and choreographer – “[It] doesn’t seem like the most obvious path,” she said, “but everybody I’ve talked to who’s a director or in film, nobody has the same path. There’s no right way to do it” – to an amusing anecdote about attending the Academy Awards for the first time, to the recurring themes she’s explored in her wide and varied career, but mostly we talked about “Homeland,” which she came aboard in the second season on the pivotal episode “Q&A,” in which Carrie Matheson (Claire Danes) finally interrogates Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) about his plot against America.
“I happened to get this amazing script that … the late, great Henry Bromell wrote, and it was a script that took place for 40 pages in one room. Of course, I was in that room with Carrie Matheson and Nicholas Brody – with Claire and Damian – not a bad place to be, but that’s a very challenging situation for a director, and I have to say I was quite terrified when I read that script.” To hear how she solved this problem is a master class in directing. “I watched a bunch of other interrogation room scenes, which was helpful to me to go, ‘You know what: don’t be scared of two people sitting in a room talking, especially if they’re saying amazing words and you have incredible actors.’”
She overcame that fear in a big way: “Q&A” reaped Emmy wins for Danes and Bromell, as well as nominations for Lewis and Glatter.
“It’s been amazing being full-time with the show,” she says of her role as producing director and executive producer, which requires her to helm four episodes per season – two in the beginning, one in the middle and the season finale – and supervise the production of the rest. “The thing that’s been exciting about ‘Homeland’ is they keep changing that show every year. This year was a total reset of the show with Brody being gone and what is the show going to be? So when [co-creator] Alex Gansa sat down and pitched me season four, and I got the outlines, I was like, ‘Wow, okay. This is a whole new show.’ That’s thrilling and terrifying and fantastic.”
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