CClaire Danes was wearing wings when I first met her, white angel wings and a flowing white dress. It was in Mexico City, where she was shooting Romeo and Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio. He spun her around and planted a kiss on her lips take after take, as though she really were an angel and weighed no more than a feather. But looks can deceive, never more so than on a movie set, and later that day I sat with her in her trailer and got a much better impression. She wore jeans and a green sweatshirt. Juliet's demure reddish-brown hair had been a wig; her real hair was brown with blond bits dropped in here and there. She looked a little like the teenager she is, but with a presence that was much older and more adult, as though she had seen a lot of life already, been through all sorts of things, and survived them. She has a lovely smile, but there is something mournful that seeps into her expression, a slightly tearful edge that is intriguing as hell. It gives her the aura of a young Meryl Streep, someone who can summon up a level of depth and character on a whim.
This Fall, the impresarios have taken her up as their leading lady. She stars in Francis Ford Coppola's The Rainmaker, based on John Grisham's novel, and is also in Oliver Stone's U-Turn, with Sean Penn, Billy Bob Thorton, Nick Nolte, and Joaquin Phoenix. These are all heavy weight names. But Claire Danes, as anyone who has been in her presence or just seen her on the screen knows, is already a contender.
Originally transcribed by: Ashanna Biliter
© Elle 1997