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The Great Claire Danes
(Teen - August, 1997)

Could Actress Claire Danes be any more amazing?

Not only is she an out-of-this-world awesome actress, she's starred with some of Hollywood's most droolworthy babes, like Jared Leto and Leonardo DiCaprio, to name two. But what we like most about Claire is that she's never had a 'tude about her so-called glam life. Instead, the down-to-earth Danes is cool with school, makes time for her longtime pals and never gets weird about being a megastar.

profile

LOOKS LIKE RAIN: Catch Claire this fall getting waterlogged in the thriller The Rainmaker, based on yet another John Grisham page-turner. Claire spends most of the time out of the courthouse, as a bruised and battered wife of a megahunky but supermean hubby (Melrose Places's Andrew Shue). After Rainmaker, she dons long blonde locks and a leather biker jacket as a naughty daughter in Polish Wedding, and then next year she'll get melancholy as Cosette in Les Misérables, based on the Victor Hugo novel and Broadway play (Liam Neeson costars).

CITY GIRL: Bagels for breakfast and subway rides to school were a way of life for Claire when she grew up in New York City's funky SoHo area (where models and artists hang out). She went to high school in Manhattan for a while, but was tutored while putting in zillions of grueling hours on the set of My So-Called Life. When she packed up and hightailed it to sunny Santa Monica, Calif., she went to school at Le Lycée Français, where another brainiac, Jodie Foster, also hit the books. But because Claire works nonstop (she started acting at age 3- whew!), she had to get her diploma with the schooling of a tutor. But she won't let up on learning: Claire has her sights set on super-challenging Columbia University [ed - Yale was eventually picked] now.

HER SO-CALLED LOVE LIFE: Meeting with directors, flying all over the world, making movies -- who has time for amour? She did have one-on-one with Andrew Dorff, bro of actor Steven, but after a year, they danced to a different beat. Then last year she got misty-eyed for her Rainmaker costar Matt Damon (Courage Under Fire), but she dumped him the day before Valentine's Day.

FIRST CRUSH: "There was this boy named Chaplin in elemenatry school. He was so afraid of me, because I had such a thing for him. He would run away, because I'd be like, 'Chaplin!' I sent him a letter one time, and I just wrote this big 'Hi.' It was so corny. Chaplin. He was a goofy kid. He was smart. He was funny. He wasn't a follower."

CLAIRE ON JULIET: "Juliet is much more secure than I am. She doesn't put herself down; she respects herself -- and maybe that's because she's more of a child. I mean, she's pretty and smart, and she has a lot going for her, and she's OK with that. I'm not."

FAMOUS FRIENDS FOREVER: Claire's been totally tight with Winona Ryder (whom she calls her Noni) since the two bonded in Little Women three years ago (Winona insisted on casting Claire for the part of Beth. The two met up again in the three-hanky drama How to Make an American Quilt, although they didn't have any scenes together. They even have friendship jewelry -- each wears half a heart around her neck. Yet Claire admits the friendship-celeb factor is weird: "Fame is so bizarre. You meet people like Winona, and they're just people. But then she's worked with the most amazing people, and I don't know how much to talk to her about it. I mean, I don't want to ask her, 'Was Daniel Day-Lewis really cool?' or say something about Johnny [Depp, Winona's ex]."

SIGN LANGUAGE: Born an Aries on April 12, 19979, under the first sign of the zodiac, Claire is one disciplined leader who can't stand to be second. She's naturally ultracompetitive, and she doesn't shy away from hard work...she'll do whatever it takes to get the job--or to get the job done. To balance out some of her bossy bent, thought, Claire needs friends and B.F.s who can love openly and not be threatened by her need to succeed. Her best-friend sign is a Libra, which happens to be pal Winona's sign, while her best-mate match is a Gemini, which just happens to be the sign of Noni's ex, Johnny Depp!

OSCAR WAVES: While all the other stars were wearing something overly glammy or ridiculously slinky at this year's Academy Awards, Claire was casual-cool in her sea-foam green Cerrutti cashmere sweater and a silk skirt.

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...CLAIRE DANES: Claire is hardly an overnight sensation. She won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Drama for My So-Called Life in 1995, which made Jurassic Park's Steven Spielberg call her the best young actress today.

Coolness Credits: (Total Must-Rents) Little Women, How to Make an American Quilt, Home for the Holidays, William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday

Originally transcribed by: Myra Wong

© Teen 1997