Wake County

'Homeland' filming scenes outside the State Capitol

Actress Claire Danes waits to begin filming a scene for the Showtime series Homeland outside the Supreme Court Building in downtown Raleigh on Tuesday June 4, 2013.
Actress Claire Danes waits to begin filming a scene for the Showtime series Homeland outside the Supreme Court Building in downtown Raleigh on Tuesday June 4, 2013. newsobserver.com

The cast and crew of Showtime’s “Homeland” filmed in downtown Raleigh on Monday, but all of the action took place inside the North Carolina Supreme Court building. That mostly kept the show’s star, Claire Danes, out of sight from gawkers. Filming moved outside and around the State Capitol on Tuesday.

The award-winning Showtime drama is set in Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia, but it films mostly in and around Charlotte. The show is in production for its third season, which will debut in September.

The filmmakers’ Monday comings and goings took place out of a side entrance of the Supreme Court building on Wilmington Street, not the court’s main Morgan Street entrance.

David Richards, a State Capital Police officer who mans the security desk at the Supreme Court, said workers in the building had not been disrupted because of the filming, which was relegated to the third-floor courtroom.

Richards could see most of the action in the courtroom through security monitors at his desk. He had watched the crew remove the seating used by the justices so that they could use their own. They put blue mats down to protect the hardwood floors from equipment until it was time to film.

“It looks like they practice for a while, and then they’ll do a little something,” Richards said.

Richards said all the justices and staff were working as usual Monday but that he did get to see Danes.

“I walked past her in the hallway,” he said. “But I didn’t really know who she was.”

Because filming took place inside Monday, Raleigh police didn’t have too many headaches associated with wrangling onlookers or blocking streets. Officer J.A. Moylett said he’d been stationed outside the court building since about 6 a.m. and that there had been no crowds or traffic issues.

One fan who did seek out Monday's filming downtown was “Homeland” fan Ilene Freedman of Raleigh.

“I had a light workday, and I had to come down to Artspace anyway,” Freedman said. “So I thought I might as well come by. I can’t wait for the new season.”

Freedman stood on the corner eating lunch until she had to leave to attend to an expiring parking meter. She never got to see Danes.

Around noon, several actors in dark suits came out of the building’s side entrance and stood on the sidewalk eating and drinking from a craft services table, but Danes never emerged. Large passenger vans with “Homeland” signs in their front windows sat across the street ready to take cast and crew back to the show’s home base on East South Street.

They liked ‘the look’

Tom Dean, the electric-rigging “best boy” for “Homeland,” said the court building in Raleigh was selected because the crew liked “the look” of the third-floor courtroom, a walnut-paneled room decorated with portraits of former chief justices and carved columns behind the bench. Dean said the Appellate Court building next door was also considered.

Dean estimated that 100 to 125 “Homeland” workers made the trip to Raleigh from Charlotte.

“Everyone on my crew is from North Carolina,” he said, explaining that the crew is responsible for getting all of the lights installed, the power connected and cables run where they need to go. “We do the time-consuming setup so that the camera people and actors can go to work when they get there.”

According to Dean, the crew is using a helium balloon filled with lights to illuminate the courtroom for Monday’s scenes. The balloon measures 16 feet by 8 feet and is 4 feet tall. “We float it up at the ceiling, and that way we don’t have to risk damaging a historic structure by installing lights,” he said.

More filming Tuesday

The 44-year-old best boy, who got involved in the film business through his high school when he was 15, said he has worked in the North Carolina film business for the past 22 years in Wilmington and Charlotte. “I’m from Tennessee,” Dean said. “The film business brought me to North Carolina.”

Dean said Tuesday will be the best day for star-gazers to get a glimpse of some action, since all of the filming will take place on the grounds outside the State Capitol building or in a small playground on Wilmington Street across from the Capitol.

“We’ll film four different scenes tomorrow,” Dean said. “Then it’s back to Charlotte.”