Homeland star Claire Danes has said she wants to strike out as an actress and play someone “decidedly sane” when the show ends.

The US actress, 40, has played fictional CIA agent Carrie Mathison, who has bipolar disorder, in the Showtime drama since it began airing in 2011.

She said that when the eighth and final series ends this year she plans to begin the “long process” of exploring who she is outside of the show.

Danes told the Hollywood Reporter: “I need this last season released into the world before it really ends for me, and then I’m sure I’ll surface eventually.

“It’s going to be a long process of seeing who I am as an actor out of this show – which has defined me for so long.

“I don’t know where to start, but I should play somebody decidedly sane.”

The last series of Homeland saw Carrie struggle to uncover an international conspiracy to harm the US democratic institutions.

The final series will open with her recovering physically and mentally from her imprisonment in a Russian gulag.

Claire Danes and her husband Hugh Dancy
Claire Danes and her husband Hugh Dancy (Dennis Van Tine/PA)

Reflecting on the show’s portrayal of terrorism and and Islamic extremism, Danes said the real-life parallels had made her “jumpy”.

She said: “There was always some parallel like that – but the bombings and shootings in Paris, that’s what made me jumpy.

“I didn’t know that we were always going to be mirroring current events so directly, that that would be such a part of the DNA of the show.”

Danes said she was excited to see how Homeland stood up with the benefit of hindsight.

“We were so much about reflecting what was happening, politically, in the moment,” she said.

“How that ages, how we perceived it and what that exposes, in 10 years time, will be compelling to see.”

The final series will see Carrie enlisted to help co-star Mandy Patinkin’s Saul in a bid for peace in Afghanistan.

Other cast members include Beau Bridges, Maury Sterling and Linus Roache.

The final series of Homeland airs from February 9.