The Stunning Transformation Of Claire Danes

Claire Danes has been a fixture of the big and small screens since 1990 when she made her very first appearance in the short film "Dreams of Love." Signaling that Danes was a star on the rise, just a couple of years later, she featured in "Law & Order" while, a couple of years after that, the young starlet broke out big time thanks to beloved, short-lived teen dramedy "My So-Called Life" (via IMDb). The very same year that show debuted, Danes made her mark on Beth March in "Little Women" opposite Winona Ryder. 

Although she was technically a child star, the New York native's adult career has been so successful she's more well-known nowadays as the lead of "Homeland," for instance, or for her starring roles in indie movies and blockbusters alike. Despite clocking in more than three decades in the industry, Danes shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. She moved into producing on "Homeland," suggesting a desire to exert more control going forward. 

Suffice to say, Danes has more than proven herself since her 1990 debut. 

Claire Danes always knew she wanted to act

As The Guardian notes, Claire Danes' acting career seemed predestined even if she was born into what the outlet called "a typically artsy and liberal New York family" rather than showbiz family. The youngster announced her ambitions at the age of just 4 and, by 6, she was starring in off-Broadway productions, noting frankly, "I was very driven to act from a very young age, and my parents were not only tolerant of that drive but also encouraging."

However, Danes clarified that she wasn't pushed to support the family, advising firmly her folks "were not stage parents." Although it may seem, to outsiders, like a wild idea for a six-year-old child to take to the stage purely based on her own self-belief, the "Little Women" star acknowledged that growing up in New York City, "exposed to a lot of culture," acting for a living "just seemed viable." And, as the following years proved, indeed it was.

Claire Danes is grateful for her realistic teen role

"My So-Called Life" was a huge moment for the teenaged Claire Danes, as well as other up-and-coming cast-members including Jared Leto, who played her dreamy love interest. Looking back on the formative show, Danes told NPR, "I remember just being amazed by the quality of the writing, that somebody out there had been able to articulate what I was going through so, so perfectly. ... I was really lucky that the people making that show had the sensibility that they had, that they were really interested in telling a story that was really confrontingly honest." 

Likewise, as the actress acknowledged, it costs more money for a production to hire younger actors, rather than grown-ups who can work longer hours and don't have to worry about school. Danes is incredibly proud of the fact "My So-Called Life" featured a real high school-aged kid playing a high-schooler. The show also provided an opportunity for Danes to reckon with some of her own difficult experiences in school, including being bullied, for which she's equally grateful. 

Claire Danes took a break to attend college

Back in 1997, Claire Danes was at the peak of her fame following the success of "My So-Called Life," which wrapped in 1995 (via IMDb). However, as the Chicago Tribune notes, at just 18 years old the actress took inspiration from mentor and friend Jodie Foster, a fellow child star done good, and took time out of her career to attend Yale. "Some people are skeptical of that choice for me," Danes, who already had 10 movies under her belt by that stage, admitted at the time. However, her parents and team were "extremely supportive." 

The "Homeland" star noted she was a star student prior to dropping out to focus on acting. It was only at the age of 18 that Danes realized how much she'd given up to pursue her dream. Thankfully, she also acknowledged her adulthood, advising, "I wanted to figure out for myself how I want to run my business and how I want to set up my life from here on out." 

As she subsequently admitted to NPR, "I chose to stop acting for a time and I went to college to just give myself a chance to catch up with some of that developmental work, and just hang out with kids my own age in a safe place.

Claire Danes relished juggling motherhood and work

Playing bold, complicated anti-heroine Carrie in "Homeland" was one of the greatest challenges of Claire Danes' career, with the actress admitting to Net-a-Porter, as the show was wrapping up in 2020, "I'll miss playing such a brilliant, intrepid, impulsive, flawed hero." The TV star acknowledged she started the show barely married and ended it more than a decade into her relationship with fellow actor Hugh Dancy, and with two kids on the go, too. 

She revealed, "Both our sons learnt to crawl in Morocco [where much of 'Homeland' has been filmed], and I have some amusing breast-pumping photos in Moroccan green rooms." Carrie's reluctance to be a mother was a fascinating counterpoint to Danes' real-life experience, but the ambitious performer relished the challenge and even suggested it was a great way to bring more attention to one of the biggest taboos still plaguing women — the desire to not have kids

Claire Danes has achieved what she set out to do

In 1994, a 15-year-old Claire Danes told ET simply, "I just want to be a sane person," adding, "I wanna be a person who has a life and who acts." Speaking to CBS News in 2020, the actress acknowledged, while looking back on her impressive career trajectory, she's certainly achieved that goal. "I think I'm pretty sane — I mean, knock wood, I don't wanna tempt fate — this has all gone much better than ...Than I had ever imagined or hoped. Yeah, so. Yeah!" Danes enthused. 

On what she still has left to accomplish, Danes told Net-a-Porter, "I would like to play somebody who's a little less of a superhero: somebody in a relationship, someone in a marriage." She added, "It would be nice to play a regular old person now, more of an actual human." 

Considering how far she's come, and everything the plucky New Yorker has achieved since she was treading the boards at six years old, there's no doubting Danes will pull it off and then some.