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Seventeen

Claire Danes
by Sadie Van Gelder (Seventeen - September 1995)

Okay, so her TV show is toast. Does that mean Claire Danes doesn't have a so-called life? No way. She has three new movies, a cool boyfriend with the last name of Dorff (keep guessing) and a fierce girlfriend with the first name Winona (stop guessing).

Last seen as the redheaded Angela Chase on My So-Called Life and the brunette Beth March in the movie Little Women, Claire Danes has moved on to bigger and blonder things. "My real color is dirty blond, actually," she says, examining her recently highlighted locks. "I'm waiting for the day I can find out what my natural hair is doing."

If Claire doesn't slow down, that day may never come. Her TV series has been officially cancelled (have you stopped primal-screaming yet?), but the 16-year-old has already filmed two movies -- Home for the Holidays and How to Make an American Quilt -- and will next star in a third, I Love You, I Love You Not, as the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. When I catch up with her in a cozy café in her hometown of New York City, she's just auditioned for yet another role. "I tend to get a little obsessive," Claire admits, chewing a stick of spearmint gum. "If I find something I like, I go for it."

Besides acting, Claire's other obsession these days is her 18-year-old boyfriend, Andrew Dorff (younger bro of actor Stephen), whom she met last November through MSCL costar Devon Odessa, aka Sharon. According to Claire, the romantic Andrew makes Jordan Catalano, Angela's hunkier-than-thou love interest, look like a total loser. For Valentine's Day, when Claire was stuck on the set of Quilt Andrew sent a tape of a love song he'd written for her, "My First Babydoll." "I've got my Walkman," says Claire, pointing to her red patent backpack -- a birthday gift from you-know-who.

When I ask her what else is in her bag, Claire cheerfully unzips it for a show-and-tell, revealing a Swiss Army knife, a wallet engraved with the words IT'S BECOME AN OBSESSION, keys to her apartment in Santa Monica, California, and three kinds of lip gloss -- all the makeup she says she can handle. "I've been around enough makeup artists. You'd think I'd learn some tricks of the trade," she says. "I tried plucking my eyebrows once, but it was a disaster -- like, one just disappeared."

For Quilt, due out in December, Claire was reunited with her Little Women sister Winona Ryder, who stars as an overwhelmed grad student trying to decide whether to marry her boyfriend. "I really learned a lot from Winona, because she had just crossed that bridge from being a teenage actor to an adult one," says Claire, who has been acting professionally since she was 11. "She sort of warned me that it was hard, but worth it."

Claire also got to work again with Jared Leto, better known as the love of her So-Called Life. "I don't think I'll ever figure him out," Claire confesses. "Jared and I are both kind of shy." Really? "We had to do this MTV veejay thing together [My So-Called Videos], and we were just inept," she says, laughing. "I miss him, actually." Hey, Claire -- join the club.

© Seventeen 1995