Sexy Claire Danes won us over as Leo's Juliet, now she's doing it tough with Matt Damon in the courtroom drama The Rainmaker. TV HITS gets the lowdown from Claire.
Interviewer: In The Rainmaker you play a wife who is beaten. How do you feel about that? My character Kelly spices the story up with a bit of romance. She serves as a relief from the courtroom drama, as a diversion for the audience. It's strange that John Grisham (the author of the book The Rainmaker) chose to have the light stuff mixed in with a tragic story. It was fun to play somebody in such a desperate situation, so utterly trapped, who felt completely helpless and hopeless and powerless.
Interviewer: Do you feel sorry for her?
Claire: I think all of the life has been beaten out of her when the audience meets her. And she's given up. So she hasn't really been able to take control of her life. She's been so alienated from her family and friends and the rest of the world, so cut off from any kind of love. What is there to do in a hospital bed if you're spending a lot of your time there? Watch TV, nobody's writing her any letters, maybe she'll read a magazine. But she's never had a proper education, so she doesn't know about books too much. A person like that is stuck. I think it would be interesting to play her when the movie ends, and see how she deals with being a free individual again. That's when her real changes begin to happen.
Interviewer: Andrew Shue plays the abusive hubby, did he feel bad about those scenes?
Claire: Yeah, I think it was hard for him to be all mean.
Interviewer: Matt Damon said that it was because of you that he got the part!
Claire: I lobbied for Matt. But I don't think it was because of me, I think it was because he did a great job on the screen test. He's a great actor, I thought he looked right for this part.
Interviewer: You are a role model, how do you think your fans will view Kelly?
Claire: She's resourceful. She's opportunistic. For a person like Kelly, there's nothing else for her to do. She was raised in a relatively poor family, got pregnant at an early age, married her high school sweetheart, and all of a sudden found herself stranded, cut off from the world.
Interviewer: Is there pressure when these reviews call you the best female actor of your generation?
Claire: Yeah. It's so flattering though. It's such an honour to have people respond so positively to your work. I love to act so much, and it's great people are letting me do lots of it. I'm just now getting excited about doing it again, since I've taken so much time off. It's been six months.
Interviewer: What did you do during that time?
Claire: I travelled around, on my own, without the cushion of a production company. I was with my boyfriend, Ben Lee. He's a musician. I toured with him - we went to Paris and London and Spain, because Ben was really curious about Spain.
Interviewer: Tell us about Ben.
Claire: He's an Aussie. He's from Sydney. I went to Australia, I just came back.
Interviewer: How did you meet him?
Claire: I fell in love with his music. Baz Luhrmann directed Romeo and Juliet. I asked him if Ben could write one of the songs for the soundtrack, but it didn't really work out. But Ben found out about this. He was making a second album in LA and he faxed me. He said, "Thanks so much for spreading the word about me," and "If you want to hang out, we should do coffee."
Interviewer: How did you find out about him?
Claire: My friend gave me his album. And then we kept in touch. And my friend, as a surprise, flew him out for my 18th birthday. And since that point we've been together.
Interviewer: Who is this great friend that did that?
Claire: Winona Ryder.
Interviewer: Was it a total surprise?
Claire: Yeah, totally. I saw one of Winona's friends with a green hair, and I thought, "Oh, Winona's here." So I went out to go see her, and there was Ben, with a rose. I did, like, a chessy double take, like, "Oh, Ben. Ben was in Australia the last time I talked to him." It was so dreamy, all of it. And it was so important to take that time to wash my hands of all that responsibility. It made me realise how much I was sacrificing all those years, and how much I was giving out. Yesterday, when I was starting to work heavily with these junkets, I thought, "Was it this hard the last time I did this?" I've become a softy.
Interviewer: Where's the weirdest place you've been recognized in your travels?
Claire: In Byron Bay, Australia. It's this really hippie-dippie town. It's beautiful, like astonishingly beautiful. So people are running around with very little clothes on at the beach, and you're just feeling so at one with everything. I went back to get a tofu burger because that's all there is to eat, really, at a place like that. These swarms of hippie girls came and were asking for my photograph and autograph. And I thought, "Ooh, I was feeling so centred and liberated. This is not supposed to be happening here." So that was a little odd.
Interviewer: How old is Ben?
Claire: He's 19. It's great to be around somebody who refers to the same things in history that I do. He was in a band called Noise Addict when he was 14. He went solo when he was 16. He has two albums now, he's making his third in December. He's with Capitol, on the Beastie Boys label, Grand Royal.
Interviewer: Did you save anything from The Rainmaker?
Claire: No, but I kept good stuff from my other new movie Les Miserables. I took a really cool rose - coloured robe and nightgown and slippers.
Interviewer: Did you sing in Les Miserables?
Claire: (Singing) Nooo! I don't want to torture the audience with my voice. Although, I saw a psychic in Australia and he told me to continue with my singing! He said I was going to have twins. And my grandmother is a twin and Ben's grandmother is a twin.
Interviewer: Do you see marriage in your future?
Claire: Yeah, why not? I'm all about monogamy. I asked the psychic, "Well, is it going to work out?" and he said, "Yes, very boring, there's only one marriage for you."
Interviewer: Why did you decide on this career?
Claire: I've just wanted to act since I was five years old. For reasons that I can't explain. Everybody in my family is really great about understanding my need to act. They've been very supportive.
Interviewer: You're going to Yale next year, don't you think you're going to risk losing
your career by going to college?
Claire: No, I don't actually because I think I'll learn more about myself. I think it's actually going to be very freeing, very liberating, quite the opposite. I think in this business you feel like everybody else is sort of like being the conductor of a train and I don't think that has to be the case. I think you can be the one who makes the decisions and whose in charge of your life. I want an education and I'm going to fight for it. And if I want a career then I'm going to fight for it. I've gotten this far. I don't have much doubt that I won't be able to go even further.
© TV Hits 1998