Why her? After earning raves for her intelligent nuanced performances in ABC's ill fated My So-Called Life (for which she won a 1995 Golden Globe award) and 1994's well-received movie remake of Little Women, Danes landed on the top of everybody's must-cast list. Fan Steven Spielberg called Danes"one of the most exciting actresses to debut in 10 years." And Jodie Foster reportedly liked her so much as Holly Hunter's precocius daughter in Home for the Holidays that she helped Danes land the starring role opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in last year's William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. In short, this remarkably self-posessed young woman, sho grew up in Manhattan's fashionable SoHo section and just finished high school, has established herself as the epitome of today's teen.
How she does it: "She's so close to her emotions," says Matt Damon, Danes' costar in the upcoming movie version of John Grisham's The Rainmaker. "I remember we had to do an emotional scene in which Claire had to bawl her eyes out over and over again. After the scene was finished, I wanted to know how she pulled it off. She told me she was thinking about this sad story from some caught-on-video show she'd seen on HBO. Most people are too desensitized to have that sort of thing affect them. But Claire looks around, sees sadness in the world, and channels it. That's an amazing skill for a person her age."
What's next: She's working with the best directors in the biz, from Francis Ford Coppola (on the eagerly awaited The Rainmaker) to Oliver Stone (on U-Turn costarring Sean Penn and Billy Bob Thorton), while getting her teeth into big-name ensemble projects, like the forthcoming film version of Les Misérables with Uma Thurman and Liam Neeson, directed by Bille August
© Entertainment Weekly 1997