Claire Danes - Biography & Career
Claire Catherine Danes was born in New York City on April 12th, 1979, into what she would later describe as a "very creative household." Her father, Chris, a computer consultant and architectural photographer, and her mother, Carla, a painter and teacher, first met at the Rhode Island School of Design. Both Claire's parents encouraged her participation in the arts at an early age. Claire also has a brother, Asa, six years her elder, who is a graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio and works for a non-profit organization.
At age six, Claire began classes in modern dance, which remains one of her interests to this day. At nine, she enrolled in the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. Claire's acting career began in "off-off-Broadway" productions such as Happiness, Punk Ballet and Kids on Stage, for which she choreographed her own dance number. In 1992, she landed a guest spot on the hit NBC series Law & Order, playing a teen model who murders her photographer-lover.
Soon after the Law & Order appearance, Danes went to Los Angeles and was offered a part in Steven Spielberg's 1993 masterpiece, Schindler's List. However, Claire turned the role down because the production, set to shoot on location in Poland, could not arrange a tutor for her. Spurning such an opportunity might have been disastrous for a lesser talent, but Claire's next project ended up catapulting her to fame. She was cast as Angela Chase in the ABC drama, My So-Called Life.
The series -- the critics' darling and the subject of a small but devoted fan following -- was inexplicably canceled after a single season, despite its four Emmy nominations. One of these went to Claire, who lost, but did take home a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series in 1995.
The praise and attention that came from My So-Called Life jump-started Danes' film career. In 1994, she appeared alongside Susan Sarandon and Winona Ryder in Little Women. The next year came How to Make an American Quilt -- also with Ryder -- and Home for the Holidays, directed by Jodie Foster, who became Claire's mentor.
After a few more small roles, Danes landed the part of Juliet opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann's hyper-kinetic Romeo and Juliet (1996). She lent her voice to the title role in the animated Princess Mononoke (1997), and starred in 1997's U Turn and The Rainmaker, 1998's Les Miserables and 1999's Brokedown Palace and The Mod Squad.
In the fall of 1998, Claire took a hiatus from her burgeoning film career to attend college and study psychology. Her choice was the prestigious Yale University, where her grandfather had once been dean in the School of Art and Architecture, and where Jodie Foster also went.
With a degree in her pocket, Claire has returned to acting in films, and it's as though she never left. After an appearance in Igby Goes Down (2002), Claire played Julia Vaughan in the multiple award-winner, The Hours (2002), followed by It's All About Love (2003).
This summer she will appear alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the highly anticipated Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. A last minute choice for the role of Kate Brewster, Claire found it "overwhelming and disorienting" at first, but warmed to the idea of starring in a movie that was a departure from her previous work.
But that's not to say that Claire will be straying from what has built her stardom in the past; she will play the title role in next year's circus-set drama Flora Plum, directed by Jodie Foster.