Diego Klattenhoff Interview Exclusive on Homeland Season 2 finale & Pacific Rim

Nova Scotia-native Diego Klattenhoff has the privilege of playing the most likable character on the most critically acclaimed show on TV. On the Emmy-winning show Homeland, Diego brings unrequited love to the next level as Faber, the best friend to fellow marine Nicolas Brody (Damian Lewis) who starts a serious relationship with Brody’s wife Jessica after his buddy is presumed dead overseas… only, of course, to have Brody return alive. Real Style talked exclusively to Diego Klattenhoff about why the Homelnd season 2 finale tonight will blow people’s minds and why filming the hit show with Claire Danes and the rest of the cast in Charlotte, North Carolina is a lot like going to camp.

The Canadian actor is having quite the enviable year. Up next for Diego after the Homeland season 2 finale? A starring role in one of the most top secret films of 2013, Guillermo del Toro’s alien invasion movie Pacific Rim. The film is so secretive that the script in under lock and key… but Diego may have just lost a Watermarked copy of screenplay. No big deal.

Real Style: I just found out that you’re Canadian, which I didn’t know! Where did you grow up?
Diego Re: Do you know a place called Moose River?

I do!
Out past Blue Mountain?

I do!
That’s where I grew up.

How did you get the acting bug? I usually assume Canadians get the hockey bug.
I played hockey up until I was about 19. Acting was a just a random thing. A group of old friends of mine were into it in Toronto and told me I should check it out, and here I am.

When you first got wind of Homeland you were in Toronto and read the script there, right?
Yeah. It would have been over two years ago now. I was doing one job and looking for another. My great manager and agent got the script from Showtime. I had done 24, and the producer [of Homeland] directed the episodes of 24 that I was in, so I knew it was going to be good. Then you read the script and it’s better than what you ever expected.

So you knew it was going to be a hit on paper?
With this, yeah. Usually, there are so many factors that you never know, but with this, it was fantastic from the get-go. You read the first scene — great.

How do you relate to your character? How do you bring the emotion to a character who is in love and in a relationship with his dead best friend’s wife and then finds out his best friend is still alive?
I think it’s pretty simple. I think everybody falls in love and is heartbroken. That’s the basics of acting — just drawing from experience and finding something you have in common with the character and then using your imagination. That’s a very simple way of saying it, not to be patronizing or anything. It’s tricky. It’s not the easiest role. It’s very well written, very conflicted. This is the stuff that everybody dreams of.

Homeland is full of some pretty intense twists. Do you guys know from the beginning of the season what’s going to happen, or is the script under lock and key?
I think everybody is pretty much in the dark. You’re just getting scripts a couple weeks ahead of time before we start shooting. They might tell you some key pieces of information, but they’re not going to tell you everything until the last minute. It’s a tricky job for that. We’re along for the ride as well.

I read that they sent the script for the finale to you and it to you Watermarked. As a journalist, I’m always terrified when musicians send me their albums Watermarked because I think, ‘If I lose this, I’m going to be sued!’
Like, ‘I’m’ f*cked!’ I have a funny story. I was in Toronto shooting Pacific Rim and left my apartment and went to Cuba for one of my brother’s weddings. I came home, and my script was gone with all my notes, and it was Watermarked, and it was a $200 million movie. I started calling around saying, ‘Who the f*ck was in my apartment?! What happened to my script? I could be in big sh*t here!’ And it was like, ‘Oh, the maid just put it in the recycling.’

Oh my God!
Yeah, your heart skips a beat.

She didn’t take it out to the curb, did she?
Totally! She just threw it in the recycling bin, and it had my notes and my name all over it. This is a script that’s under lock and key. When we auditioned for it, you had to basically sign your life away. Here we were almost a year and a half before the movie comes out, and it’s floating around in some kind of trash bin.

So it could actually be missing, is what you’re saying…
Nah, I think she tossed it in the trash.

How did you get involved in Pacific Rim? We don’t know much about it on the media side of things.
I don’t know much about it… I’m kidding! I did my work. It’s a wild movie that they’re actually writing a sequel to it right now as we speak. It’s a gigantic movie with aliens trying to invade earth and giant robots versus giant reptilians. It’s pretty wild. Guillermo did Pan’s Labyrinth for I think $20 million, and I heard rumours that [Pacific Rim] was $200 million or maybe it was $170… I don’t know. That kind of tells you what the movie could be — just the scope of the movie and how amazing it is.

Those are two pretty big street cred roles you’ve got going on — Homeland and Pacific Rim.
Not bad! You just kind of go along and try to find good material and good directors. I’ve been fortunate that these things have popped up.

Has it changed your life in ways you didn’t imagine, like when you’re in Starbucks? I mean, you’re a character that people actually love.

It is kind of weird. Most people don’t actually recognize me. I’m a guy who looks like their cousins or their friends or I don’t know what. And you know people who watch the show and people who don’t. People who are really into the show have a craziness about them — they’re so into what’s going on. You know when somebody watches the show and they’ve spotted you. It’s really cool. I used to — and I still do — geek out about people I meet along the way. I turn into a 10-year-old girl. It’s pretty wild when there’s nobody on the street and you’re jogging in the morning and it’s LA and there’s nobody ever on the street, and then somebody is screaming at you from their porch. You just don’t expect it. Or a flight attendant is a big fan of your show. It’s a little bizarre. I’m not Justin Bieber. There’s no Diego Fever. It’s just pretty normal stuff until you run into the occasional fan.

This is the first year I’ve gone to the Emmys, and you don’t think you’re going to be starstruck, but then because you see your favourite TV characters — they feel like people that you know. When I saw the cast of Downton Abbey, I lost my mind. I should be old enough to understand that they are not the characters!
That’s the magic of TV though. You realize that this is possible — that you get sweaty palms and tongue tied and stupid. It’s very surprising. Who was your moment?

You’ll think I’m lame, but Mr. Bates from Downton Abbey. He’s one of the servants.
Well, David Harewood [who plays David Estes on Homeland] — the guy’s a f*ckin’ legend in Britain. He got the order of — what’s it called? — they just called him Lord Harewood. He’s the greatest guy. It was funny because everybody recognizes Claire, Damian and Morena and stuff, but David Harewood, when we went to the parties and stuff, every British person — I take it for granted that I’ve known the guy for two years now — all these other people just flip out, “Like David! Oh my God, David!” It was very interesting.

I was talking to the guy who plays John Snow on Game of Thrones, and I always forget that they’re working actors and they can be killed off and then have to find another job. Does that ever terrify you?
It’s very rare that you get to play a character this rich, and along the way you have to say good-bye to people. It’s like closing a chapter in your life, like, “Oh shit, we put that girl or that guy to rest and I just have to keep going on…” It’s such a great opportunity when you get wrapped up in it so heavily, but there’s also a part of you that knows that it’s part of the deal that you’re always going to be a hired John. You’re going to come in and do the best job, but you’re always going to be looking for another job. It’s not a bad thing. It keeps you on your toes.

You guys shoot mostly in Charlotte. That must be a trippy experience in itself, being outside of LA. It must be like going to camp.
It is. You definitely have a camp-like feel, going about your business and moving out there and everybody’s on the same crazy ride. You do the second year, and you come back to it, and somebody’s had a baby and somebody’s going to have a baby, and somebody’s doing this project or that project. You couldn’t meet a better group of people to share this experience with. And it’s the South. If you’ve never been to the South, you definitely go, “Oh, this is different.”

When you’re in Charlotte, do you guys hang out in your free time?
We f*ckin hate each other… I’m kidding! Everybody hangs out as much as they can. There’s always something going on — somebody’s having a barbeque, somebody’s cooking, somebody’s got a bowling game or a golf game. Everybody gets along so well that it’s pretty fun to be out there and see what kind of trouble we get into.

The season finale is coming!
Yeah, we shot that maybe about five or six weeks ago.

What can we expect?
Things are never what they seem on Homeland. You think it’s going to go one way and they go another. You can never tell on this show. It just gets darker and crazier. I have no doubt that people are going to be talking about it. Fans of the shows are going to go, “What the f*ck? How? Why?” I know you’re going to have to delete all the profanities in my vocabulary. I apologize. I am from rural Nova Scotia.

Yeah, that’s fine. We’re Canadian. If you want me to pepper a few in for character, I will!
I’m a little hungover, to be honest.

What did you do last night?

I can’t tell you. Stuff.

What do you miss most about Canada, other than the obvious family stuff?
I miss that health insurance doesn’t cost so much money and that when you actually do need to get looked after it doesn’t just make your eyes bleed from dealing with insurance companies that you pay thousands of dollars to that don’t want to help you. I’m so used to growing up with CBC radio. I have NPR, and late at night CBC radio comes on. I don’t know what I miss about Canada, but every time you go back you go, “Oh, that makes sense!” And every Saturday, you could count on Hockey Night in Canada. There’s a different rhythm.

If you couldn’t be on Homeland, what other TV show would you want to be on?
Property Brothers.

We just interviewed the Property Brothers — so random!
I would have loved to have been on The Sopranos. The darker and more f*cked up it is, I’m there! I love Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Mad Men.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had in your life?
I worked in my Dad’s shop. Where I’m from, you cut wood, you fix cars, you rake blueberries. That’s what you do. It’s all kind of a blur. I don’t have one of those paper route stories.

What is the last book that you read?
I’ve been very naughty, and haven’t read as much as I should. I am reading Bruce Springstein’s bio.

What is the best thing you know how to cook?
I make a good pizza, and I do a nice Bolognese sauce, the basics. I cook the f*ck out of cereal.

If you weren’t an actor, what would you be?
I have a lot of interests, but it doesn’t mean I’m good at them. Have you seen that show Breaking Bad? Along those lines…

Photos Courtesy of: Showtime & Marc Cartwright

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