On television, Morgan Saylor plays America’s moodiest teenager, a shade-throwing, eye-rolling, prep-school troublemaker who refuses to cut her mother a break. In real life, though, the 19-year-old actress who plays Dana Brody on Showtime’s Homeland, has such a copacetic relationship with her onscreen mom, Morena Baccarin, that the two share a house during the shooting season in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Morena taught me how to cook,” Saylor says. “She gives me lessons on life. The other day, we went to a nice restaurant, and she was like, ‘Morgan, use the small fork first.’ ” Saylor, who on Homeland serves as a raw-nerved moral compass amidst a landscape of terrorists, philanderers, and misbehaving spies, has done a lot of growing up over the course of the show’s three seasons: When she first signed on at 16, she would commute with her mother from Atlanta to North Carolina for filming and was tutored on set. Now she’s commuting from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, where she’s renting a brownstone. Saylor also has her first “sexy scenes” in the upcoming film Jamie Marks Is Dead, in which she plays a small-town teenager who gets tangled up in a local tragedy. “It was awkward,” Saylor admits. “The callback for the movie was a sexy scene, which was weird as hell—to go into a room with, like, eight men and read that scene with confidence.” Saylor credits her Homeland castmates Baccarin and Claire Danes with helping her navigate the entertainment business as a young actress. One lesson that she’s learned so far is to try to ignore the haters. “I know there’s a lot of hate against Dana, which I think is pretty funny,” Saylor says of some of the percolating backlash against her character during the show’s second season. “People make fun of Dana because she’s being an annoying teenager. Well, she is an annoying teenager.” Still, Saylor didn’t shy away from the chance to play a less burdened character in Jamie Marks. “There’s some trauma in the movie, but also some not super-depressing stuff,” she says with a laugh. “So that was a nice change.”
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