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Catching Up With Claire
by Cindy Pearlman (Seventeen - March, 1998)

"Ba da bing, ba da boom," says wide-eyed Claire Danes as she gears up for what 1998 holds in store. "It's going to be the Claire Danes year." She's not exaggerating. In the next few months, Claire, 18, will be all over big screens -- in Les Miserables, Polish Wedding, and Brokedown Palace and then she's slated to attend Yale university this fall. Despite her hectic schedule, Claire chatted with us about her upcoming roles, her real love and -- we couldn't resist asking -- if she'll ever work with Leo again.

Interviewer: what was it like playing cosette in Les Miserables? She's the virginal heroine, but she runs off with a revolutionary, so she can't be too good. I got to wear period costumes, which was fun, but i was moaning and groaning about wearing a corset.

Interviewer: Do you sing in the movie?
Claire: No! I don't want to torture audiences with my voice.

Interviewer: Tell us about brokedown palace.
Claire: It's about two girls who graduate from high school and go to Thailand becuase it's cheap and exotic, but they end up in a maximum-security prison.

Interviewer: With all these movies, have you had any time off?
Claire: Well, i just took six months off to roam around Europe without the cushion of a production company.

Interviewer: Were you with anyone special?
Claire: With my boyfriend, Ben Lee, and his band. I stayed at lots of Best Westerns. Some nights i was afraid to get in the bed for fear of what creatures might be in there...and the showers, yuck.

Interviewer: Um, rewind. How did you and Ben meet?
Claire: I fell in love with his music and I asked if he could be on the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack, but it didn't work out. Anyway, we kept in touch and Winona [Ryder] flew him out as a surprise for my 18th birthday. Since then, we've been together.

Interviewer: Is it serious?
Claire: I went to a psychic, George, who said I was going to have twins after i marry Ben. My Grandmother is a twin and Ben's Grandmother is a twin. That's pretty cool.

Interviewer: What was the trip highlight?
Claire: It was important to have the time to wash my hands of all this responsibility. I realized how much I've been sacrificing all these years.

Interviewer: What do you mean?
Claire: I was always so sure of what I was doing and the choices I was making. now I look back and I'm like, I should've taken it more slowly.

Interviewer: How do you feel about attending college?
Claire: I'm looking forward to being with kids my own age, reading books and discussing ideas with my classmates. I'm thinking of studying philsophy, art history or psychology. I'll just crash the best teacher's class.

Interviewer: Do you think it's going to be hard to fit in?
Claire: I want to try to be a normal college girl. I'll live at the dorm. I won't be too wild. I'll wear long sleeves.

Interviewer: Do you plan to keep acting while you're at school?
Claire: I'll do a movie during the summer. Or maybe not. Jodie [Foster] did five movies while she was at Yale.

Interviewer: Any role you're dying for?
Claire: I would love to do a dance movie -- It's time for one of those. Footloose was my favorite movie when I was five. Actually, i saw my him, Kevin Bacon, once and said 'I totally idolize you,' and he perked up. I was so glad he didn't say, 'what a dork'.

Interviewer: Might we suggest reteaming with Leo?
Claire: Leo and I really like and respect each other. Yeah, we're interested in working together again.

Interviewer: Any movies on your radar?
Claire: Right now, I think it's really important to empower myself by cutting myself off from the business every once in a while. You know, if I want to jump back into it, it's always possible.

© Seventeen 1998