“Homeland” viewers who grew antsy last season when Nicholas Brody went missing aren’t alone: At least one of that show’s stars felt the same way. “I think some of that story had gotten a little tired,” concedes Morgan Saylor, 19, of all those episodes of teenage rebellion and angst she played as Brody’s daughter, Dana. As the show gears up for Season 4, she says, expect to see far less of the Brodys and more of Saylor elsewhere: The 19-year-old just made an impressive stage debut in the Manhattan Theatre Club’s “When We Were Young and Unafraid,” opposite Cherry Jones and Zoe Kazan. “I love reading scripts,” she says. “As soon as my agent sends them to me, I can’t wait to read them!”
Here’s what else she loved reading.
by Mary Shelley
This was recommended to me by David Harewood, who played [CIA Deputy Director] David Estes in “Homeland.” He couldn’t believe I hadn’t read it, and when we were hanging out together in LA, he went out and bought me a copy. This version talks about what was going on in Shelley’s life when she wrote it and how it was created, so it’s a real treat.
by Patti Smith
I didn’t grow up listening to Patti Smith’s music or anything, but the title intrigued me, and once I started reading it, I fell in love with it. It’s inspiring to read how she went from being practically a hobo who moved to Brooklyn with nothing and went on to be a rock star, and it all happens over a few hundred pages.
Fool for Love and Other Plays
by Sam Shepard
I was turned onto this by Patti’s book — she talked about her relationship with Sam. One of the seven plays here, “Cowboy Mouth,” was written and performed by Patti and Sam when they were having an affair. Zoe Kazan lent me her copy. I think she worked on these plays in her acting class.
Flowers for Algernon
by Daniel Keyes
I think I got this at a garage sale when I was in the third grade. I’ve reread it over the past 10 years, and it always amazes me — how a crazy medical experiment helps Charlie go from being mentally challenged to being a genius. It always amazes me how well this is written, and it always touches me. I think it’s a masterpiece.
The new trailer and a new poster for the film have been released. “Jamie Marks Is Dead,” which premiered at Sundance this year, opens on August 29th.
Fifteen-year-old Adam McCormick’s life hasn’t been the same since classmate Gracie Highsmith found Jamie Marks’s dead body at the edge of the river. The town is shocked, but as speculation swirls, it becomes clear that they knew as little about Jamie as they do about the circumstances surrounding his death. Adam becomes fixated on Jamie’s death, and gradually a deep bond develops between the living teenager and the dead boy’s ghost. Their unlikely friendship provides Adam with the support and friendship he needs as the rest of the world falls apart. But the more attached Adam becomes to Jamie’s ghost, the weaker his ties to reality become. As he struggles with the real-world relationships, Adam is forced to rediscover what it means to be alive.
Morgan Saylor is accustomed to intensity. She’s left a searing impression in the minds of TV viewers for the past three years, as teen spitfire Dana Brody on Showtime’s smash Homeland. The daughter of a suspected-sorta-almost-not-quite-but-maybe terrorist (it’s complicated), Dana has come to symbolize #whitegirlproblems on steroids: negotiating the disarmament of a would-be suicide bomb, covering up a hit-and-run murder, attempting suicide, escaping from rehab, stealing her mother’s car, and betraying her boyfriend to the police, to name but a few of her angst-ridden exploits. “It’s funny to me,” Saylor, 20, says of the ratings phenomenon. “It’s kind of surreal. When we shot the pilot I never would have guessed it would become such a cool role. Some people love her and some people hate her, but it’s cool that people respond either way.”
When it came to shooting Carter Smith’s Sundance entry Jamie Marks Is Dead, Saylor relished being able to get her hands dirty with a smaller production crew. “[Homeland] is a well-oiled machine and we know how to get it done,” she explains. “We had a small budget and we were staying in a Days Inn. You have more of an opinion, even with the director. Everything is smaller, so you have to fill in the gaps and keep up more than you normally would.” When it came to playing the role of Gracie Highsmith, Saylor found she was able to flex her brooding chops in a more nuanced way. “The movie starts with my character finding Jamie Marks’s body and it kind of unravels from there. It’s the story of a boy’s death and how a small town responds to it, especially two kids, played by myself and my friend Cameron Monaghan. It’s a different script from what I’d been seeing, and a different kind of movie about teenagers.” In the film, Marks’s ghost comes back to haunt the two teens, but it’s not the typical haunted adventure one might expect. “It’s not Casper,” she says, laughing. “It’s a person. It’s weird and disturbing, but also tender, and maybe, inspiring? A lot of the movie is about loneliness and finding a friendship, or even just a connection, which a lot of teenagers and adults can relate to. Everybody gets lonely.”
Next up, Saylor hops to buck any potential typecasting by going blonder, younger, and dressing up in the color pink for a Disney flick with Kevin Costner. Homeland fans can also rejoice (or pour haterade) over Dana’s return in Season 4. “I’m not coming back as a regular,” she admits, “but I think there may be a meeting with Carrie coming up. I might have to meet my baby sister.”
Morgan Saylor is currently performing on Broadway with Zoe Kazan and Cherry Jones in When We Were Young and Unafraid. Jamie Marks is Dead will be in theaters this August.
Morgan Saylor wants YOU to see When We Were Young and Unafraid (Video)