Claire Catherine Danes (born April
12, 1979) is an American actress, perhaps best known for her role as
Angela Chase in the television series My So-Called Life, and for starring
in films such as Romeo + Juliet (as Juliet), Terminator 3: Rise of the
Machines (as Kate Brewster) and Stardust (as Yvaine). She has received a
Golden Globe Award and an Emmy nomination for My So-Called Life, and has
also worked in theatre and as a voice actor (Princess Mononoke).
Danes was born in Manhattan, New York City, New York. Her mother, Carla,
is a day-care provider, painter, and textile designer who later served as
her daughter's manager, and her father, Christopher Danes, is a computer
consultant and former architectural photographer. Danes has described her
background as being "as WASPy as you can get"; her paternal grandfather,
Gibson Andrew Danes, (1910-1992 in Litchfield, Connecticut) was the dean
of the art and architecture school at Yale University. She has an older
brother, Asa, who graduated from Oberlin College and works as a litigation
attorney for the law firm of Paul Hastings.
Danes attended the Dalton School in New York City, the New York City Lab
School for Collaborative Studies, the Professional Performing Arts School,
and the Lycée Français de Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California. In 1998,
Danes went to Yale University, her father's alma mater. Oliver Stone wrote
her letter of recommendation to Yale. After studying for two years as a
psychology major, she dropped out of Yale to focus on her film career.
In 1994, 15-year-old Danes starred as the 15-year-old Angela Chase in the
television drama series My So-Called Life, for which she won a Golden
Globe Award and received an Emmy nomination. She played Elizabeth "Beth"
March in the 1994 movie adaptation of Little Women. She also appeared as
Holly Hunter's daughter in Home for the Holidays, which was directed by
Jodie Foster. In 1995 she appeared in a Soul Asylum music video for the
song "Just Like Anyone" as an Angel. She portrayed Juliet Capulet in Baz
Luhrmann's 1996 film William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, co-starring
Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague. Later that year, she was cited as
having turned down the lead role in Titanic. Danes, however, said that
while she may have been considered for the part, she was never offered the
role. In 1999, she made her first appearance in an animated feature with
the English version of Princess Mononoke, and took the lead role in
Brokedown Palace, alongside Kate Beckinsale and Bill Pullman.
In 2002, Danes starred alongside Susan Sarandon, Kieran Culkin, and Bill
Pullman again, in Igby Goes Down. She later co-starred as Meryl Streep's
daughter in the Oscar-nominated, The Hours, with Nicole Kidman, Julianne
Moore, and Ed Harris. The following year, she was cast in Terminator 3:
Rise of the Machines, followed by Stage Beauty in 2004. She earned
critical acclaim in 2005 when she starred in Steve Martin's Shopgirl
alongside Martin and Jason Schwartzman, and in The Family Stone opposite
Sarah Jessica Parker and Diane Keaton. In 2007, Danes appeared in the
fantasy Stardust, which she described as a "classic model of romantic
comedy", with Charlie Cox, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, and Sienna
Miller, and appeared in The Flock, opposite Richard Gere.
Danes appeared in Off-Broadway plays including Happiness, Punk Ballet, and
Kids On Stage, in which she choreographed her own solo dance. She also
wrote the introduction to Neil Gaiman's Death: The Time of Your Life.
Danes auditioned for the role of Lois Lane in Superman Returns before the
role went to Kate Bosworth.
In March 2007, Danes appeared with Patrick Wilson in a television
commercial for Gap in which the pair dances to the song " Anything You Can
Do" from the musical Annie Get Your Gun. Danes has recently appeared
onstage at Manhattan's PS122 an avant-garde performance space, in a series
of dance pieces by choreographer Tamar Rogoff. Danes made her stage debut
at PS122 as a child.
On October 19, 2007, Danes made her Broadway debut in the revival of
George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, starring as Eliza Doolittle.
Danes had her first onscreen kiss in an episode of My So-Called Life
before she had one in real life. After meeting at her birthday party, she
and Australian singer Ben Lee dated for almost six years, their
relationship ending in 2003. She also dated actor Leonardo DiCaprio whom
she met while filming Romeo + Juliette for 2 years. She has dated Andrew
Dorff, actor Stephen Dorff's younger brother, and Matt Damon. Beginning in
2004, she dated her Stage Beauty and Princess Mononoke co-star Billy
Crudup, which generated negative publicity due to rumors that their
relationship caused the end of Crudup's relationship to then-pregnant
Mary-Louise Parker. Both denied that they were involved prior to the end
of Crudup's relationship with Parker. Danes's relationship with Crudup
ended in December 2006, amid rumors of an affair by Danes with Hugh Dancy,
her co-star in Evening. Danes confirmed on the June 27, 2007 episode of
Late Show with David Letterman that she was dating Dancy. Danes, 30, and
Dancy, 34, were married in a quiet ceremony in France in 2009.
(On co-star Kate Beckinsale on
hoping to become friends) "That was wrong. We didn't. She's
complicated. She's prickly".
"I live in an adult World, but I'm a kid. I love the work. But I no
longer have a group of friends to hang out with regularly."
(on education vs. career) "I was told that my going to college
wouldn't be good for my career. I think that's nonsense. It's good
to empower yourself by cutting yourself off from this business every
once in a while."
"I have a huge, active imagination, [and] I think I'm really scared
of being alone; because if I'm left to my own devices, I'll just
turn into a madwoman."
"My line about Arnold is that he doesn't get in his own way. He is
not apologetic about achieving his goals. And when you have that
attitude, it's amazing what one can accomplish. He wanted to give me
relationship advice. I was having trouble with a female friend, and
he said, be really forthright and do not accommodate her needs
excessively. I took his advice and we're not friends anymore. So
there you go."
"I was intimidated. There was the accent, the period of the film,
and I had to act badly. I kept laughing during those scenes because
I was god-awful. I've worked so hard to be good, and now I had to
work even harder to be bad" [On Stage Beauty (2004)].
"It's very difficult to judge yourself. Extreme self-doubt is only
attractive when it's fictionalized. Which is why people love the
movies. They are so reassuring."
"I had an unwavering focus. 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 responsibility. It was all rather amazing when I
think about it now."
"I was a very confident child. I knew I wanted to be an actress from
the age of 5. Madonna was my original muse -- around 5, I saw her
perform on TV, and I realized that performing could be one's
vocation. Then, at 7 or 8, I realized that most actors don't make a
lot of money, and I amended my plan. But at 9, I seized my destiny.
I made a formal announcement to my parents that I had to be true to
my art. Money or no money, acting is my calling".
"I never thought of myself as a child actor. I knew I was a kid, but
they weren't related. There was nothing I could do about being a
kid, and meanwhile I was an actress, and I had something to say in
"I think that everybody wants to create, to do something that feels
genuine and kinetic and spontaneous. I think actors want to surprise
themselves. When it's really good, you kind of transcend yourself,
and that happens infrequently. Very, very rarely. You might get one
or two of those moments on a film, say, and sometimes they don't
even use the takes where that happens. And I'm not really that
moralistic about how you get there."
"I would like to have a family, but I'm trying not to make any
plans, because when I do, everything goes wrong." [On having
children, December 21, 2005]
"I'll never wear a thong again. I'm a Speedo gal" - on her shocking
swimsuit scene in To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday (1996).
"Usually, my social life and my sanity and my health are the things
that are sacrificed" -on her non-stop work schedule.
"The point of acting is to share, to connect. That's why I act.
Acting is the greatest answer to my loneliness that I have found."