Vancouver actor Patrick Sabongui is taking names and making waves in the newest season of Homeland.
Showtime’s juggernaut political thriller – which stars Emmy Award winner Claire Danes as an embattled intelligence agent – kicked off its highly anticipated sixth season earlier this week. Sabongui recurs throughout the season as Reda Hashem, a purposeful New York City law professor who runs a non-profit organization that defends wrongly accused Muslim-Americans.
“I’ve heard from very close friends, ‘I had no idea how the CIA worked until I watched that show,’ and sure: the show takes creative liberties, but it does shed some light on how that whole universe works, and we’re conscious of that on this show, and that’s part of what sets this show apart,” says Sabongui, who also plays Captain David Singh on The CW’s locally shot superhero show The Flash and Hassan Al Afshar on Crackle’s The Art of More (Read more about Sabongui’s background in this 2014 profile, and about his The Art of More role here).
The versatile actor has tackled a similar character before, albeit it in a vastly different venue: Sabongui played New York City lawyer Amir Kapoor in Ayad Akhtar's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced at Vancouver’s Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in 2015 – a character who, unlike Reda, does everything he can to distance himself from civil rights cases.
“When I first read Reda’s character, and thought, ‘What do I know about this, what do I connect to about this?’ and then it hit me all of the sudden: this is Amir Kapoor five years later, when he has realized, ‘I’ve been pushing away my Islamic heritage for so long, and now I’m going to embrace it and become an advocate for my people,’” says Sabongui.
He adds: “I’m sure that the Homeland writers, that’s not where their heads were at, but for me, it was informative. It informs details about Reda, and where he came from, and the journey that maybe he’s been on.”
On Homeland, Sabongui shares the bulk of his scenes with Danes, who he describes as “no joke. She is as good as you think she is. She is so prepared and so available and what I learned from working with her so closely is to keep searching and keep digging deeper, and every time you play the scene, there’s an opportunity to learn something from it and to move past what you came in prepared with."
Homeland’s new season follows a transfer of power from one federal administration to the next. The timeliness of this particular story point is not lost on Sabongui and his co-stars.
“I think everyone is acutely aware that we’re working on something that is meaningful and has social influence,” says Sabongui. “The conversations that happen around the table are very conscious, and they include social impact. What are we doing? What are we saying? What are people going to learn from this? What I’ve learned is that, as an artist, you never stop growing, and you hopefully never stop taking part in work that has a social impact, and realizing that, and not taking that for granted, and acknowledging that you have a responsibility to do the right thing with your work.”