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Mademoiselle

Claire Bares It All
by Meredith Berkman (Mademoiselle - January 1996)

She's fresh, she's famous -- and even endearingly anxious about her so-called stardom

Claire Danes is feeling vulnerable today. "It comes in waves," she says, fingering a small pimple on her chin. "I've been feeling just not good enough. Good enough for whom, that's the real question. I don't know who I'm trying to prove myself to. It's about self-acceptance and self-worth and all that jazz."

Danes may be worried, but no one else is. Although My So-Called Life, the ABC series in which she played the confused-yet-socially-cool teenager Angela Chase, was killed off by weak ratings, it won her rave reviews, a Golden Globe Award, and some high-powered Hollywood mentors.

Like Winona Ryder, who suggested her for the role of saintly Beth in Little Women. And Steven Spielberg, a huge fan, who cast her in the female-bonding movie How to Make an American Quilt. And Jodie Foster, who directed Danes as Holly Hunter's daughter in last month's comedy Home for the Holidays. And it only gets better. Later this year, Danes will star opposite legendary French actress Jeanne Moreau, playing a young woman whose grandmother is a Holocaust survivor in I Love You, I Love You Not. She recently finished shooting To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday with Michelle Pfeiffer and Peter Gallagher. Net comes the ultimate Young Hollywood lead: Juliet to Leonardo DiCaprio's Romeo in a modern day version of Shakespeare's tragic love story. Actually, Dane's movie career has gone so smoothly, it's easy to forget that she's still a woman-in-progress, adjusting to regular periods (which she calls "Miss Blood") and her first love affair (with 18-year-old musician Andrew Dorff, younger brother of actor Stephen. They met on a date set up by a costar from My So-Called Life). She has her learner's permit, but she doesn't know how to drive yet. And she think's filmmaker Quentin Tarantino is "just ultra-cool." "Things are going very well -- knock on wood," says Danes. "But then someone will say, 'She's horrific. She's so silly and selfish and un-put-together.' "

Who said that?

"Nobody," she admits. "But these are my fears. And what if somebody did? It would destroy me." Really? Danes pauses to consider. "For a day, it would destroy me," she explains. "For an hour. I'd get over it. But then it would take eleven more compliments to convince me that it wasn't true."

© Condé Naste 1996