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The Return of Claire Danes
(Teen Machine - April 1996)

She won critical raves for her performance as an angst-filled teen on ABC's My So-Called Life. These days, Claire Danes is fulfilling her promise as a rising star on the big screen.

The critics called her fascinating and one of the most exciting young actresses of the last decade. Younger up-and-coming actresses called her their hero. Fans of My So-Called Life, while not a large enough crowd to satisfy the accountants at ABC, worshipped its then red-haired star. And in the end, even though her series was canceled, everyone predicted big things for 15-year-old Claire Danes in the world of movies. So far, the critics and the fans have been absolutely right.

In the short span of a year, Claire has won an astonishing number of plum film roles. After garnering rave reviews in last Christmas' (94) Little Women, Claire moved swiftly from movie role to movie role. Currently the New York native has three more movies on her resume - the recently released How To Make An American Quilt (in which she had a small part), Home For The Holidays (which was produced by Claire's personal idol, actress Jodie Foster) and I Love You, I Love You Not.

A Down To Earth Girl

I Love You, I Love You Not "deals with the Holocaust and adolescence", says Claire's co-star in that film, James Van Der Beek, who was most recently seen playing the bad guy in the teen comedy Angus. For the new film, James is once again playing the heavy. "It takes place in NY and mostly deals with Claire and her grandmother. I play another despicable character - I'm just awful to Claire", he says. "She plays a Jewish girl and I end up sticking pictures of Holocaust victims on her locker. It's awful and I'm just terrible."

Despite the fact that their characters have no great love for one another, James has only good things to say about his leading lady. "She's amazing and she’s a very sweet girl," he says. "It's so nice to see someone that successful and so down-to-earth. Whenever anybody's that good and better than you (as an actor), they bring out a better performance from you."

But the biggest, and most exciting role for Claire is yet to come in the classic teen-in-love tragedy, Romeo & Juliet. Claire, who went up against Clueless star Alicia Silverstone to win the role, will star opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie, which will remain true to its Shakespearean roots by retaining the old world dialogue of The Bard but will place its star-crossed lovers in modern times, began filming in Miami and Mexico this fall. Expect to see it at a theater near you in the summer or fall of '96.

Where Are They Now?

Although Claire remains the highest profile star from My So-Called Life, many of its other actors are still thriving on the big and small screens. Heartbreaker Jared Leto (Jordan) also filmed a small role in American Quilt but his presence is larger in the upcoming film The Last Of The High Kings which also stars Christina Ricci. Meanwhile, Wilson Cruz (Ricky) can currently be seen on the big screen in the Oliver Stone-directed film Nixon, while A.J. Langer (Rayanne) has a recurring role this season on the hit show Coach. And finally, Devon Gummersall (Brian) will appear along with Boy Meets World star Will Friedle in the upcoming TV movie Educating Mom.

Clearly, having once been a part of My So-Called Life didn't hurt any of these actors' careers and may have pushed them on to bigger and better things. In fact, the only ones who really lost out were the viewers. MTV's recent airing of MSCL on Saturday nights makes you really wonder what might have been if the network had decided to splurge one more season of what may have been the best show on television...ever.

Originally transcribed by: Robo

© 1996, Teen Machine