Since 1994, audiences have watched as Claire Danes has matured from awkward teen to one of the most popular actresses of her generation. Whether portraying the angst-ridden Angela Chase on My So-Called Life or trailer park trash in Oliver Stone's U-Turn, Danes has consistently displayed an uncommon maturity and insight in her performances that belies her relative inexperience. Her ability has won over countless critics and fans and has allowed her the opportunity to work with luminaries ranging from Jeanne Moreau to Jodie Foster and Francis Ford Coppola.

Claire Catherine Danes was born April 12, 1979 in New York City and began acting shortly thereafter. With the support of her artistically-inclined parents (a painter mother and photographer father), Danes enrolled in an acting class at the Lee Strasberg Studio when she was nine years old. After attending the Professional Performing Arts School for the sixth and seventh grade, she went to Los Angeles in the hopes of being cast in Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (Claire had previously appeared in an episode of Law and Order and in Dreams of Love, an obscure film produced by Milos Forman). While she was waiting for Spielberg's decision, serendipity struck in the form of the makers of a new TV show called My So-Called Life, who wanted Danes to star in their production. Danes agreed to do the show after turning down the role that Spielberg had decided to give her. Always someone interested in learning, Claire rejected Spielberg's offer because she wouldn't be able to receive schooling in Poland, where the movie was to be filmed.

Premiering in 1994,
My So-Called Life lasted only one season, but garnered critical praise and a cult following during its brief lifetime. Moreover, it made


Danes, if not a star, then a star in the making. Hollywood opened its bleary eyes and took notice, and soon Claire was being touted as the Next Big Thing. During the run of My So-Called Life, Danes starred as the saintly, sickly Beth in Gillian Armstrong's adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic Little Women (1994). The film was a success, and allowed Claire to perform in the company of such well-respected actors as Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder and Gabriel Byrne.

Danes followed up
Little Women with How to Make an American Quilt (1995), which, despite a stellar cast including Anne Bancroft, Alfre Woodard, and the great Jean Simmons, failed to make much of a critical or popular impression. Claire's next project, Jodie Foster's Home for the Holidays, met with a similar fate, but afforded her the chance to work with Foster, who became a sort of mentor to the young actress.

After making two more films, which continued Danes' pattern of starring in movies that behaved badly at the box office despite having bankable actors (Jeanne Moreau in the straight-to-video I Love You, I Love You Not (1996) and Michelle Pfeiffer in To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday (1996)), Danes hit it big with Baz Luhrmann's wildly popular William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996). Her portrayal of Juliet broke the hearts and opened the tear ducts of many, while her pairing with Hot Young Thing Leonardo DiCaprio undoubtedly caused mass swooning incidents in theatres the world over.

The critical and commercial success of the film meant that Claire was soon in great demand, as evidenced by the people she was able to work with over the next couple of years. After
Romeo + Juliet, Danes worked with Oliver Stone on the lunatics-in-a-small-desert-town picture U-Turn (1997), a film that caused consternation among critics and at the


box office. Claire's turn as Joaquin Phoenix's trashy girlfriend represented a departure from her previous, more innocent roles, something that she embellished upon in both Francis Ford Coppola's The Rainmaker, where she played Andrew Shue's abused wife, and Polish Wedding (1998), in which she portrayed the rebellious Hala. Neither movie was particularly successful, an unfortunate bit of luck that continued with Danes' next two efforts, Les Miserables (1998) and The Mod Squad (1998), the latter of which, despite the high anticipation surrounding its release, was panned by critics who complained it looked more like a Diesel ad than a movie, and largely ignored by the public.

Through it all, Claire has remained in the media spotlight, appearing on countless magazine covers and as the object of speculation for many. Aside from the bad publicity surrounding remarks she made about the Phillipines during the making of Brokedown Palace (1999), and her subsequent banning from that country, she has continued to attract positive attention for her enrollment at Yale University in 1998.

Despite a series of misses during the late 90's, Danes came back with several small but critically acclaimed roles. In Igby Goes Down (2002), she played the confused love interest of the title character, starred alongside Sean Penn in director Thomas Vinterburg's It's All About Love (2002), and took part in the Academy-Award winning The Hours (2002). While her performance in The Rage at Placid Lake (2003) went largely unnoticed, mainstream audiences got their chance to see Danes butting heads on screen with Arnold Schwarzenegger and newcomer Nick Stahl in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. In 2004, Claire joined Steve Martin in the adaptations of his bestselling fiction novella, Shopgirl.







»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.«




About Molly Ringwald: »When I was young, I worshipped Molly Ringwald. When I first started doing My So-Called Life, I used to watch Sixteen Candles and mimic her.«

»You don't realize how useful a therapist is until you see on and discover you have more problems than you ever dreamed of.«



She made her first acting experiences in off-off-broadway productions (Happiness, Punk Ballet, Kids on Stage).
She was starring in two short films (Thirty, The Pesky Suitor).
She had TV appearances in Law and Order and The Coming Out of Heidi Leiter.
She dated musician Andrew Dorff, brother of actor Stephen Dorff.
Her former boyfriend Ben Lee was introduced by Winona Ryder on Claire's 18th Birthday.
In 1997 she was chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world.
She was auditioned for the role of Lisa in Girl, Interrupted (1999).
She was considered for the title role in the 1997 remake of Lolita (1997).
She was auditioned and was the first choice for the role of Rose in Titanic (1997).
She called her cat Fifi-Champion.