Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
How I Met Your Mother, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Currently Known For:
Actress and Model
2005 - Present
April 3, 1982
How I Met Your Mother, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
“Acting is the greatest answer to my loneliness that I have found.” Named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine, Claire Danes is one of Hollywood’s favorite leading ladies. Danes got her start as an actress in 1990 but didn’t truly find fame until 1994 when she was cast as Angela Chase in the teen drama series, My So-Called Life. The show quickly became a fan favorite and earned the young actress a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination!Advertisements:
Wrapping up My So-Called Life in 1995, Danes proved her talents weren’t limited to television when she made her silver screen debut in Little Women (1994). From there, she appeared in Home for the Holidays (1995), Romeo + Juliet (1996), The Rainmaker (1997), Les Misérables (1998), and The Brokedown Palace (1999) before taking a brief hiatus from the spotlight from 1998 to 2000 to enroll at Yale University. Ultimately realizing her interests were solely in acting and not in academics, Danes returned bigger than ever and hasn’t slowed down since with credits in The Hours (2002) and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003). Of course, she’s best known for her most recent award-winning role as Carrie Mathison in Showtime’s hit series, Homeland.
So, how did the now 39-year-old New York City native get her start in the business over two decades ago and what are her plans after Homeland wraps its eighth and final season?1979 – 1993: Finding Her Footing as an Actress
“Growing up, I wanted desperately to please, to be a good girl.” Catherine Claire Danes was born on April 12, 1979, in New York City, New York where her mother, Carla, was a sculptor and printmaking artist and her father, Christopher, was a photographer. Because of her parent’s involvement in the creative arts, they encouraged Danes and her older brother, Asa, to pursue their own interests and self-expression. This is how Danes ended up in dance classes at the Dance Theater Workshop when she was six years old. Although she loved to dance, Danes discovered an even greater passion and begged her parents for acting lessons, which she received from the prestigious Lee Strasberg Institute at the age of 10.
“My parents never condescended to me. As a child, I always sat at the head of our dinner table. I was always given a lot of responsibilities,” Danes said of her childhood in SoHo. “My parents also really empathized with our desire to express ourselves and I was so forceful and annoying about (acting), I really insisted.”
The young Danes was determined to become an actress and was 11 years old when she started seriously auditioning for roles in local student films. At the age of 12, she signed on with an agent and was offered her first real job—a minor part in a soap opera. However, despite her desire to launch her career, Danes knew she didn’t want to typecast herself this early in her career. Instead of taking the part, she bravely turned it down and set her sights on something bigger. “My first offer was when I was 12 and it was for a soap opera. And I turned it down because I knew that I was an unformed actor and I didn’t want to develop bad habits,” she later said of her decision.
Danes’ decision was risky but it worked out for the best as the 13-year-old won her first major role opposite Dudley Moore in the pilot for Dudley, which was never picked up by a major network. Fortunately, Danes didn’t have to wait long to find her next gig and made her official television debut on the third season of Law & Order in 1992 before making her next appearance on the HBO series, Lifestories: Families in Crisis.1994 – 2010: Catching the First of Many Breaks
“Working gives you this new perspective. You don’t take everything too seriously, and you realize that if you don’t do too well on a history test, it’s not the end of the world.” With her career gaining momentum, Danes caught the first major break of her career in 1993 when she auditioned for and won the starring role of 15-year-old Angela Chase in the teen drama series, My So-Called Life. As her family packed their bags, they left the bright lights of New York City to settle down in Los Angeles, California as Danes’ overnight fame unfolded.
My So-Called Life was an instant hit among teen audiences and gained a cult following as critics praised Danes as Hollywood’s newest star. The series earned the young actress a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and an Emmy Award nomination before it was canceled after 19 episodes. Fortunately, Danes already had her next move planned and made her silver screen debut as Beth March in Little Women (1994). Over the next five years, she appeared in over a dozen films in addition to landing a starring role opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet (1996). Her other credits include Home for the Holidays (1995), I Love You, I Love You Not (1996), To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday (1996), The Rainmaker (1997), Les Misérables (1998), Polish Wedding (1998), The Mod Squad (1999), and Brokedown Palace (1999).
After an incredibly busy schedule throughout her teens, Danes stepped out of the spotlight and finished up her senior year at Lycée Français de Los Angeles in 1997. The following year, she enrolled at Yale University and spent the next two years studying psychology. “When I was 18, I went to college for two years and didn’t work for a year, which was essential for me because my identity had been so influenced by my being an actor and I think I just needed to discover what it was to be myself, divorced from all that responsibility. I hadn’t been free from adult responsibilities since I was 12 and I needed to experience that. I really needed to just be a kid again,” Danes said.
Doing exactly that and embracing life as a college student, Danes dropped out of Yale University as a sophomore and returned to Hollywood where she starred in Igby Goes Down (2002). “I finally realized that, yeah, I did want to be an actor and it wasn’t out of habit, but I needed to grow up for myself and then kind of reenter the industry with a sound understanding of what my sensibilities and my values are as a relatively formed human being,” Danes said of her return to film.
She appeared opposite Meryl Streep in the 2002 Oscar-nominated film The Hours and added in appearances in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Stage Beauty (2004), Shop Girl (2005), The Family Stone (2005), Stardust (2007), The Flock (2007), and Me and Orson Welles (2008). In 2010, she returned to television as the star of Temple Grandin, which showcased her talents as a character actress since she was tasked with playing an autistic woman who revolutionized practices for more humane handling of livestock at cattle ranches and slaughterhouses. For her performance, Danes earned a 2010 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie and a 2011 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries.2011 – Present: Finding a Home on Homeland
“Carrie is all these things that I’m not. I was nervous.” After Temple Grandin, Danes was even more selective with her next role and took the next two years off for fear of doing something silly or inconsequential. This was incredibly difficult for the workaholic who realized her need to stay active. “It was a nightmare, I was in such agony. I had been so stimulated and energized, and I felt really robust and capable and eager. But I couldn’t go back to the ingenue role or the limited secretary-type roles. I wanted to play someone who would move the story forward,” Danes said.
Danes didn’t have to wait long to find the perfect role and was cast as bipolar CIA agent Carrie Mathison in Showtime’s new series, Homeland, in 2011. “Carrie is so audacious and effectual and unaccommodating, and all these things I’m not,” Danes said of her character. “I was nervous after reading the script. I felt like, ‘This is going to be a workout and will I be able to sustain that?’” Fortunately, sustaining the part has been easy, albeit exhausting, for Danes over the last seven years. She’s earned two Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards for her performance and was even named one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine.
Amid the numerous honors and accolades, Danes says one of her favorite parts of playing Mathison is shedding light on bipolar disorder. “We learn fairly early on that lithium, which is her panacea, her miracle drug, is no longer effective,” Danes says of Mathison’s struggle. “Then she finds herself needing to save the world again and she won’t have time to experiment with other medications in a sane, scientific way. And she is forced to use street drugs and self-medicate.”
Beyond humanizing bipolar disorder, Danes also loves the training involved with her role, especially the week she spends at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia and the week she spends in spy camp in Washington, D.C. “It’s so wild. They curate a group of people who have good stories for us—experts in social media and counterterrorism and drug trafficking—and it’s just fascinating. It’s my favorite thing about the job,” Danes said of the annual trip to the CIA. She also loves the week in D.C. where she learns about real-life conspiracies that the show’s writers later develop into storylines. “Every year we spend a week in D.C. in ‘spy camp,’” Danes says. “From morning till night, we talk to a whole coterie of characters within the clandestine world who have real insight into what’s happening… it’s incredibly valuable and terrifying.”
Bringing real-life scenarios to the Showtime series, Danes wrapped up Homeland’s seventh season in April 2018 and confirmed that the eighth and final season would release in June 2019. “I would like just a little relief for my girl because I think she’s earned it,” Danes says of how she would like to see Mathison go out. “But we’re not there yet.” With fans excitedly anticipating that moment, the 39-year-old Danes is anxious to get some rest and spend some valuable time with her family. “We’re going to take the longest frickin’ nap imaginable,” she says. So, what about her life behind the scenes?
Danes briefly dated Australian singer Ben Lee and actor Billy Crudup before finding love on the set of Evening in Newport, Rhode Island with actor Hugh Dancy in 2006. “I was recently very single and I had never been single before, so we were just friends for a while,” Danes said of their early courtship. “Hugh and I met in Rhode Island when it was at its most audaciously beautiful—in the fall. And there was one day when we were bicycling by the water and it was sparkly and idyllic, and I just had this dumb epiphany like, ‘I’m just really happy.’”
Embracing that happiness over the next few years, Danes and Dancy confirmed their engagement in February 2009 and then secretly exchanged vows months later in a private ceremony in France in September. Returning to the United States, they settled down in New York City’s West Village and spent the next few years focusing on their relationship and their careers before starting a family with the birth of son Cyrus on December 17, 2012. Six years later, they welcomed their youngest son into the world on August 27, 2018.
Admittedly happier than she’s ever been, Danes agrees that Homeland fulfills so much for her professionally. “My goal is to do something that feels just beyond my reach and Homeland continues to do that,” she says. “Every season, they find new ways to scare me. The show is like a diamond that fell from the sky. I’ll always feel slightly bludgeoned by it, but in the best way possible.” As for her growing fame, Danes is humble and knows the life she has with her family is far more valuable. “People confuse fame with validation or love, but fame is not the reward,” she says. “The reward is getting fulfillment out of doing the thing you love.”