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Claire Danes
(Dolly - March, 1998)

"Claire Danes, 18, has a life that's to good to be true. Take a look at her checklist. Job: Hot Hollywood star. Leading men: Leo DiCaprio, Matt Damon. Education: going to Yale. Boyfriend: Aussie babe Ben Lee. You saw her last: On the cover of Dolly.

Interviewer: How do you feel when you hear that you're the best actress to come out of Hollywood in four years?
Claire: It's such an honour to read that. I'm just so lucky people have responded so positively to my work and that I'm doing something right....It's cool that I haven't been pigeonholed.

Interviewer: Do you feel sometimes that a lot of female parts aren't realistic?
Claire: Actually, I've been very spoiled. I've been given a chance to work in some great female characters but sometimes I do scoff at women. I'm like, what are they talking about, lack of female roles?!

Interviewer: What research did you do for your work in the Rainmaker?
Claire: I talked to my mum's friend, who has worked in a shelter for battered women. She talked to me a little bit about how you would respond to being beaten by your husband. its really complex and it's actually very interesting.

Interviewer: On a lighter note, you finished school last summer.
Claire: Yeah, I'm taking a year off and going to Yale next year. So nervous, so nervous!

Interviewer: You said somewhere that you really need to stop working.
Claire: Well, I did. I took six months off to run around with my boyfriend and hang out and see the world on my own terms, without the cushion of a production company. That was really important to do - all of a sudden I had this clarity and mini epiphany - "Oh, life's manageable." (laughs)

Interviewer: Was it becoming to much to handle, both school and work?
Claire: Yeah. I didn't realize how much I was sacrificing until I put the breaks on and alloted some time to be free from responsibility and to be my own person again - and not share my psyche with another personality or character. It's taxing, you don't realize how much it takes to constantly give something of yourself to the press - that's the ultimate sacrifice. But I knew that when I started acting. I'd be dumb if I didn't.

Interviewer: Where do you live at the moment?
Claire: I've just bought a place in SoHo in New York. The same neighbourhood I grew up in, so I stop by my parents house every once in a while.

Interviewer: In your six months off, did you travel much?
Claire: I went to Paris and London and spent a lot of time on New York and LA.... I went to Spain for a little while and to Australia...It was really cool, we didn't stay in four star hotels...At first I was really nervous jumping into beds or the shower, then I quickly adjusted to that kind of lifestyle. And yeah, it was really bizarre we I started working again - flying first class and staying at the Four Seasons and being offered lots of clothes for publicity. I had all this stuff around me and I was surrounded by people. But I missed my boyfriend. I was separated from my family and friends and missed them. I didn't even have time to read a book. The trade-off was so clear at that moment.

Interviewer: And your boyfriend is in the business?
Claire: Yes, his name is Ben Lee, he's an Australian and he's moved to LA. He writes and sings his own songs - he's really good. He was in a band called Noise Addict when he was 14 then he went solo when he was 16, so he has two albums out and he's making a third. He's so great!

Interviewer: I can tell - you can't stop talking about him! So how did you guys meet?
Claire: I asked the director of R&J to put one of his songs on the soundtrack. It didn't quite work out but he found out about my plugging on him and he was making a record around LA so he faxed me and said, "Thanks so much for spreading the word. If you want to hang out and get a coffee we should."

Interviewer: Have you been the inspiration for any of his songs?
Claire: Oh yes - and that's the best part of the deal! Which ones? He's writing a song on his next album and I make special appearances in a lot of them. He wrote a song for my birthday called "Claire's Birthday song."

Interviewer: How does he handle your celebrity status?
Claire: Well, we were in a car in New York and people were passing by and they were hooting and hollering. He was eating cherries and he started to throw them at the cars. I was so furious, but he deals with his own stuff. He has concerts and his own following. Actually, he's the star in our relationship because I knew about his music before I met him, and I listened to him obsessively because I had a major crush on him, but he didn't know about my acting, so the roles were reversed.

Interviewer: He really likes you for you?
Claire: Yeah, and it's great.

Interviewer: How would you compare the acting styles of Leo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Joaquin Phoenix?
Claire: (long, silent pause)

Interviewer: See, talking about your boyfriend was much easier!
Claire: Yeah, so much! Leo is... very instinctive and works from his gut. Matt is much more analytic and has much more of a methodical process. joaquin's a riot! He's great but he gets very anxious and kind of obsessive about his roles, and you never really know what he's going to do in each take - he's eccentric. So I guess that's how I would compare them.

Interviewer: I read that you were the first choice for Titanic. Is that true?
Claire: Yeah, I chose not to do that movie. I didn't want to do that movie. Can you imagine - another movie with Leo? Oh, another epic romance. And drowning with him ...Yeah, again. The water - we'd never get out of the water!

© Dolly 1998