SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 2, Episode 10 of Showtime's "Homeland," titled "Broken Hearts," which aired on December 2.
For actor Jamey Sheridan, the death of "Homeland's" Vice President Walden, means he'll no longer have to keep a very big secret.
The actor, who plays Walden on the Showtime drama, said when he and his wife were checking out the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York last week, appreciative "Homeland" fans kept saying hello and asking him for photos. Many wanted to know what Walden's fate would be.
"They're sort of foaming at the mouth about the show and they all want to know, 'Are you going to be president?' 'Are they going to kill you?'" Sheridan told The Huffington Post in an exclusive interview.
As viewers saw in Sunday's shocking episode, Walden's potential running mate, Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), helped terrorist Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) kill Walden using unusual high-tech methods. With Brody's help, one of Nazir's followers was able to hack the politician's pacemaker and send it into overdrive (and murder-by-pacemaker is actually a plausible scenario, the show's producers said in this extensive recent interview).
Sheridan said that executive producer Alex Gansa called him to let him know that his character was going to be exiting in "Broken Hearts," and the actor got the script for the episode the same day. He wasn't necessarily surprised that the polician would be exiting, the actor said.
"Obviously, the show is not about Walden," Sheridan said with a laugh. "And after the first season, when I got a look at how it was written, I think we all kind of realized anything could happen."
Sheridan leaves "Homeland" with a bit of wistfulness -- he noted that he never had a scene with Claire Danes' Carrie Mathison, and he only had one scene with Mandy Patinkin's Saul Berenson, and he'd always hoped the two men would meet again. But he sounded quite cheerful and even-keeled, saying he had no regrets.
"Actors are being surprised all the time, and I don't think anyone resents anything because the material is so great," he said. "[The 'Homeland' writers in particular] always surprise me with the direction they go -- you think the plot has been laid out and then they turn left."
Still, there were some things that took a little while to process once he got the news about Walden's death. For one thing, in Sheridan's mind, Walden "worked out four times a week and was as healthy as an ox," and he said he was "shocked" to find out that Walden had a pacemaker.
"It being the end of the character didn't bother me that much," Sheridan said. "It was more that …my interior life for the character was running on a pretty different track, so it was a big surprise. But I quickly warmed to the sort of operatic idea of going ahead and playing this shocking scene. I think I would have had a line a few episodes before that about a pacemaker, though."
Part of the backstory he'd constructed for the character involved the idea that Walden had been a CIA operative in Afghanistan in the late '70s and early '80s, and that he was always an "embedded" CIA guy, even after his switch to politics.
"I thought of him as a warrior, not a politician. And as a result, he would carry a sword, even as a politician. It gave me an opportunity to play a guy who's not going to pussyfoot around," Sheridan said. "I loved playing the part."
And filming his last episode -- with a death that's sure to be talked about for days, if not weeks -- presented one of his most exciting challenges.
"Once I got over the pacemaker thing and, 'You're going to die,' I let the scene just wash over me, and slowly I began to realize, [Brody's betrayal] is going to be this revelation while he's killing me. While the elephant is starting to squash his heart, it's all dawning that this guy's been screwing him the whole time. That's great writing," Sheridan said.
His scene partner attacked the scene with gust as well; Sheridan pointed out that Lewis' character had been waiting for a long time to kill Walden, who approved a drone strike that killed 83 children, including Nazir's son Issa.
When he and Lewis were shooting Walden's death, Sheridan recalled, "There were times when he whispered, 'I'm killing you!' -- [he seemed] like he was 10 times the bad guy I was. He got right down next to my ear and waited and said, 'I'm killing you!' I was like, '[Brody is] a mean guy!'"
I couldn't let Sheridan go without asking about his other TV gig on The CW's "Arrow." He said he hasn't booked any additional guest spots as Oliver Queen's father (who's seen in flashbacks), but he wouldn't rule it out. "I loved doing it because I really like Stephen Amell -- a great guy and incredible athlete," Sheridan said. "It was a real pleasure to work with Steve."
As for his immediate future? "It'll be fun to see what happens when I walk around New York next week," he said.
"Homeland" airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. EST on Showtime.
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