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Also Known As: Claire Catherine Danes Died:
Born: April 12, 1979 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Claire Danes was barely in her teens when she made a significant impact on primetime television with the startling authenticity, intelligence and complexity she brought to her starring role on the landmark drama "My So-Called Life" (ABC, 1994-95). Following the beloved show's early demise, Danes headed straight for dramatic feature films, maintaining her "thinking teen" persona in Baz Luhrman's "Romeo + Juliet" (1996) and the Academy Award-nominated "The Hours" (2002). While Danes branched out with comedies including "The Family Stone" (2005) and the fantasy "Stardust" (2007), it was character-driven dramas like "Shopgirl" (2005) that best showcased the actress' skillful embodiment of a vulnerable female on the verge of an empowered breakthrough. She once again found wide critical acclaim on television for her Emmy-winning performance in the title role of the biopic "Temple Grandin" (HBO, 2010), followed by a return to episodic series work as one of the stars of the espionage thriller "Homeland" (Showtime, 2011- ). Having successfully made the transition from small screen to feature films and back again, Danes remained one of the more impressive performers in either medium.A native New Yorker, Danes...

Claire Danes was barely in her teens when she made a significant impact on primetime television with the startling authenticity, intelligence and complexity she brought to her starring role on the landmark drama "My So-Called Life" (ABC, 1994-95). Following the beloved show's early demise, Danes headed straight for dramatic feature films, maintaining her "thinking teen" persona in Baz Luhrman's "Romeo + Juliet" (1996) and the Academy Award-nominated "The Hours" (2002). While Danes branched out with comedies including "The Family Stone" (2005) and the fantasy "Stardust" (2007), it was character-driven dramas like "Shopgirl" (2005) that best showcased the actress' skillful embodiment of a vulnerable female on the verge of an empowered breakthrough. She once again found wide critical acclaim on television for her Emmy-winning performance in the title role of the biopic "Temple Grandin" (HBO, 2010), followed by a return to episodic series work as one of the stars of the espionage thriller "Homeland" (Showtime, 2011- ). Having successfully made the transition from small screen to feature films and back again, Danes remained one of the more impressive performers in either medium.

A native New Yorker, Danes was born April 12, 1979, and raised in then up-and-coming SoHo by artistic parents. She was learning modern dance at six, and at age nine, began taking acting classes at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. Her career began in off-off-Broadway productions "Happiness," "Punk Ballet" and "Kids on Stage," for which she choreographed a solo dance piece. Danes attended the prestigious Dalton School and went on to the Professional Performing Arts School during junior high. While there, she truly became a professional by making her television debut on "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990-2010), portraying a volatile teen involved with a sleazy photographer. The same year, with only one TV credit to her name, Danes auditioned for "My So-Called Life" and was chosen over a large pool of actresses to play the lead character of 15-year-old Angela Chase, suburban teenager. ABC delayed their commitment to the show, and it was not until the following year that ABC followed up its pilot with additional episodes. Danes made the inevitable move to Los Angeles. When the show debuted in the fall of 1994, it joined a television lineup virtually devoid of teen-targeted programming.

Despite the network's uncertainty on how to promote the show and their reluctance to understand the potential audience, word-of-mouth brought in devotees who connected to the honest depiction of teen life as one filled with difficult day-to-day challenges. Just as popular was the portrayal of Angela Chase as a realistic teen, full of doubt and anxiety and searching for an identity. The show earned a cult following and an avalanche of critical kudos, but ABC hoped for larger numbers and a wider demographic. That, coupled with Dane's already waning interest in the grueling TV shooting schedule, led to the show's cancellation after only 19 episodes. There was an outpouring of efforts by fans to save the show, and while it did not produce any results, it proved to other networks - notably the fledgling WB - that there was a demand for teen-targeted dramas on television. And in 1994, Danes was recognized with an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series - Drama, for her role in the influential series.

When "My So-Called Life" ended, Danes stayed in Los Angeles and attended the Lycee Francais, while at the same time, fielded offers for feature film work. She won strong notices for her movie debut alongside Susan Sarandon and Winona Ryder as the doomed sister Beth in Gillian Armstrong's well-received adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" (1994). Danes had a small role as a younger version of Anne Bancroft's character in another female ensemble, "How to Make an American Quilt" (1995), and followed up with a small role as the wise-beyond-her-years daughter of Holly Hunter (and granddaughter of Bancroft) in Jodie Foster's "Home for the Holidays" (1995). Foster's endorsement helped Danes win the plum role of Juliet opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrman's "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet" (1996), a highly stylized and purposefully anachronistic retelling of the classic story. Danes' continued popularity with young audiences was evidenced in her slew of MTV Movie Award nominations, while critics also recognized her performance.

From that hot blockbuster Danes moved on to independent film, playing a teen neglected by her grieving father (Peter Gallagher) in the misfire "To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday" (1996) and starred opposite Jude Law in the coming of age romantic drama "I Love You, I Love You Not" (1997). Oliver Stone cast her as a white trash princess in his uncharacteristic flop "U-Turn" (1997), while the same year, Francis Ford Coppola tapped her to play an abused wife who falls for young lawyer Matt Damon in "John Grisham's 'The Rainmaker'" (1997). The co-starring turn also resulted in a short-lived romance between Danes and Damon, after which she spent the subsequent four years involved with musician Ben Lee. After voicing the English language version of Hayao Miyazaki's acclaimed Japanese anime "Princess Mononoke" (1997), Danes continued to show a penchant for character-driven drama, playing Cosette in Bille August's adaptation of "Les Miserables" (1998) and starring as an unmarried and pregnant Polish-American in the indie family saga "Polish Wedding" later that year.

Danes was accepted to Yale University in the fall of 1998, and spent two years there working towards a psychology major while continuing to shoot films during her off time. The maturing actress also began to branch out onscreen, surprising audiences with her role as drug offender-turned-crime fighter in Scott Silver's big screen update of the 1960s TV series, "The Mod Squad." She followed up with the harrowing "Brokedown Palace" (1999) co-starring with Kate Beckinsale as teens duped into importing drugs into Thailand. In 2001, Danes left Yale in favor of full commitment to acting, returning to screens in the coming-of-age indie comedy "Igby Goes Down" (2002) as a prep school girl caught between two drastically different brothers. The same year, Stephen Daldry tapped Danes for his critically acclaimed adaptation of "The Hours" (2002), based on the novel about several generations of women whose lives are interconnected through the Virginia Woolf novel, Mrs. Dalloway. Tasked with working alongside Meryl Streep and Ed Harris, Danes held her own and was included in the Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast.

The 2003 sci-fi drama "It's All About Love," which teamed Danes romantically with Joaquin Phoenix, was a critical and box office disappointment and Danes followed up with another surprising choice in the action-packed sequel, "Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines" (2003). After filming "Stage Beauty" (2004), in which she played a 17th Century actress entangled with fellow thespian Billy Crudup, Danes found herself in the tabloid crosshairs when Crudup left his very pregnant girlfriend Mary-Louise Parker and began a relationship with her. Next she was paired onscreen with polar opposite suitors - a successful sophisticate (Steve Martin) and a Bohemian dreamer (Jason Schwartzman) - in the subtle and smart adaptation of Steve Martin's bestselling novella, "Shopgirl" (2005). Danes was nominated for a Satellite Award for her starring role as a retail worker and aspiring artist, and followed up that critical success with the popular holiday ensemble comedy "The Family Stone" (2005). She turned out another fresh-scrubbed New Englander performance in the curiously unappealing adaptation of Susan Minot's "Evening" (2007), and around the time of the film's production, she and boyfriend Crudup called it quits. Danes was not single for long, however, having met Hugh Dancy on the set of the film. She eventually became engaged to the British actor.

The year 2007 also marked Danes' Broadway debut, appearing as Eliza Doolittle in a revival of "Pygmalion." Although her co-starring role alongside Richard Gere in the crime thriller "The Flock" (2007) did not make it to theaters, Dane experienced considerable success with the adaptation of Neil Gaiman's fantasy film, "Stardust" (2007). In another period piece, she portrayed an aspiring actress in Orson Welles' famed Mercury Theater in "Me and Orson Welles" (2009), a fictionalized account of the director's early years, helmed by Richard Linklater. After a long absence from the small screen, Danes reappeared in "Temple Grandin" (HBO, 2010), starring in the true story of an autistic woman who became a pioneer in the cattle industry, a role that earned her Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie. With cable television now offering meatier roles for the talented actress, she signed on as a series regular on the psychological thriller "Homeland" (Showtime, 2011- ), on which she played a CIA operative who suspects that a former captive of Al-Qaeda (Damian Lewis) may be a threat to national security. For her impressive work, she nabbed another Golden Globe, this time for Best Actress in a Drama Series, and followed up with an Emmy win in the same category later in 2012. The Hollywood Foreign press recognized her work again with another Golden Globe win for her work in season two.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 As Cool As I Am (2013)
2.
 Catch My Disease (2010)
3.
 Temple Grandin (2010)
4.
5.
 Flock, The (2007)
6.
 Stardust (2007)
7.
 Evening (2007)
8.
 Shopgirl (2005) Mirabelle
9.
 Family Stone, The (2005) Cast
10.
 Stage Beauty (2004) Maria
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1985:
Began studying modern dance at age six
:
Started acting career on the Off-Off-Broadway stage in productions of "Happiness" and "Kids on Stage"; choreographed a solo dance piece for the latter
1992:
Made film acting debut at age 11 playing a molested child in the student short "Dreams of Love"
1992:
Made her TV debut, playing a suspected murderer on an episode of NBC's "Law & Order"
1992:
Auditioned for the role of Angela in "My So-Called Life" (ABC) at age 13
:
Turned down a role in Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List"
1993:
Shot the pilot for "My So-Called Life"
1994:
Appeared in "More Than Friends: The Coming Out of Heidi Leiter," an installment of HBO's "Lifestories: Families in Crisis"
1994:
Starred as Angela Chase in the acclaimed but short-lived ABC series "My So-Called Life"; earned an Emmy nomination for Best Actress in 1995
1994:
Made feature acting debut playing Beth March in the remake of "Little Women"
1995:
Appeared in the music video for "Just Like Anyone" by Soul Asylum
1995:
Played a young version of Anne Bancroft's character in "How to Make an American Quilt"
1995:
Cast as Holly Hunter's precocious daughter in "Home for the Holidays"; directed by Jodie Foster
1996:
Starred as a teenager whose father (Peter Gallagher) continues to struggle with the untimely death of her mother (Michelle Pfieffer) in "To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday"
1996:
Played Juliet opposite Leonardo DiCaprio's Romeo in Baz Luhrmann's highly stylized update of "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet"
1997:
Played Joaquin Phoenix's tarty lover in Oliver Stone's "U-Turn"
1997:
Featured in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Rainmaker" as an abused wife who falls for lawyer Matt Damon; adapted from the John Grisham novel
1998:
Portrayed Cosette in Bille August's take on the Victor Hugo classic "Les Miserables"
1998:
Starred as an unmarried and pregnant young Polish-American girl in "Polish Wedding"
1999:
Played the female lead in the big screen version of the 1960s TV show "The Mod Squad"
1999:
Co-starred with Kate Beckinsale in the gripping Thailand prison-set drama "Brokedown Palace"
2000:
Played one of Richard Gere's daughters in Robert Altman's "Dr. T and the Women"
2002:
Had a small supporting role as Meryl Streep's daughter in the Academy Award-nominated "The Hours"
2002:
Co-starred with Susan Sarandon, Kieran Culkin and Bill Pullman in "Igby Goes Down"
2003:
Played John Connors' love interest in "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines"
2003:
Teamed romantically with Joaquin Phoenix in "It's All About Love"
2004:
Co-starred with Billy Crudup in Richard Eyre's "Stage Beauty"
2005:
Starred in Steve Martin's "Shopgirl" alongside Martin and Jason Schwartzman
2005:
Played Sarah Jessica Parker's younger sister in the holiday comedy "The Family Stone"
2007:
Played a young Vanessa Redgrave in the ensemble drama "Evening"
2007:
Cast in the Matthew Vaughn-directed fantasy epic "Stardust"
2007:
Made her Broadway debut, playing Eliza Doolittle, in George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion"
2009:
Co-starred with Zac Efron in the Richard Linklater-directed period film "Me and Orson Welles"
2010:
Portrayed the title role of an autistic woman in the HBO film "Temple Grandin"
2010:
Nominated for the 2010 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie ("Temple Grandin")
2011:
Nominated for the 2011 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries ("Temple Grandin")
2011:
Starred as CIA Agent Carrie Mathison on Showtime drama thriller "Homeland"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute: New York , New York -
Professional Performing Arts School: New York , New York -
Le Lycée Français: Los Angeles , California -
Dalton School: New York , New York -
Yale University: New Haven , Connecticut - 1998 - 2001

Notes

The Danes family motto is "You're not the only pebble on the beach."

Tom Shales from The Washington Post described her as "deep and mercurial and strikingly complex... "---From People, October 3, 1994.

"Claire Danes has a face of pure cream, and the heart and soul to match. At times beatific, the 16-year-old actress looks like she's lit from within. Given that she's best known as a girl named Angela on television's 'My So-Called Life', this seems more than serendipitous."---From US, May 1995.

"I want to keep playing teen parts that are honest enough to say. 'Sorry, these ain't the wonder years.'"---Danes to Harper's Bazaar, July 1995.

"You're always nervous before you start. No matter what your reputation, it's completely nervewracking. So I had a little breakdown before I went to Mexico City. I couldn't sleep, my heart was pounding at three in the morning. So I walked to my mother's room and tried to cuddle with her. Then I watched 'Grease 2' and that totally pacified me. You can really escape with that."---Danes relating her pre-shoot jitters for "William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet" to New York Post, October 30, 1996.

"It was just so hard. The place just fucking smelled of cockroaches. There's no sewage system in Manila, and people have nothing there. People with, like, no arms, no legs, no eyes, no teeth. We shot in a real [psychiatric] hospital, so takes would be interrupted by wailing women, like, 'Cut! Screaming person.' Rats were everywhere."---Danes' controversial comments regarding the "Brokedown Palace" Philippines location shoot to Premiere, October 1998.

"As an actor, you just remove yourself from reality completely for three months, and then when it's all over, you're left with few friends who are really angry because you haven't called, and a dusty home that's been neglected. That's utterly depressing. So my goal now is to integrate my life in to my work. I try to adapt to the various changes that have occurred in my life and evolve, but it does become quite scary sometimes. Some people feel a little claustrophobic when fame hits but you have to take it as it comes. It's really important not to be afraid of people. That's too damaging.

The perks are lovely, you know. It's really great to have success and money because suddenly you have all these choices. You can say 'I'm curious about Italy, let's go there this summer.' You get an incredible amount of access to so much."---Danes on the downsides and privileges of her chosen career to Empire, December 1998.

"I've never tackled this genre before. I was craving some levity. A huge motivation for me to do the project was people's surprised reaction to my decision. They were practically appalled!"---Danes on taking a role in the action-adventure "The Mod Squad" to USA Today, April 9, 1999.

"There's certainly something very uncomfortable about the voyeurism involved in being in the press, being an actor, where people have a seemingly insatiable curiosity about, you. However, I'm at a very comfortable place in my career and celebrity, in that I don't have to audition as extensively as I used to for roles but yet I'm not immediately recognizable. So I walk around, ride the subway and occasionally there's a paparazzi lurking in the shadows but it's not very injurious. I haven't been threatened in the way that has crippled me, emotionally or physically."---Danes quoted to Paul Fischer of Film Monthly, June 15, 2003

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Andrew Dorff. Musician. Born c. 1977; younger brother of actor Stephen Dorff; met in 1995; no longer together.
companion:
Matt Damon. Actor. Dated during filming of "The Rainmaker"; no longer together.
companion:
Ben Lee. Musician. Introduced by Winona Ryder; dating from 1997; rumored to have split as of November 2003; reps confirm they are still together December 2003.

Family close complete family listing

grandfather:
Gibson Danes. Educator. Former dean of Yale's School of Art and Architecture; suffering with Alzheimer's disease, committed suicide in 1992 in a pact with his third wife.
grandmother:
Claire Danes. Died c. 1955; Danes is named after her.
father:
Chris Danes. Computer consultant, former architectural photographer. Born c. 1945 met wife at the Rhode Island School of Design.
mother:
Carla Danes. Day care provider, painter, former textile designer. Born c. 1946; met husband at the Rhode Island School of Design.
brother:
Asa Danes. Born c. 1972; graduated from Ohio's Oberlin College.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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