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USA Weekend

Catch A Rising Star
by Lorrie Lynch (USA Weekend - Dec 24, 1995)

Claire Danes' TV drama, "My So-Called Life", lasted less than a season. Lucky for her. Today, at only 16, Danes has the movie role of a lifetime -- Juliet in William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", now filming -- and Hollywood could not be more abuzz. "I don't think I've ever seen anyone her age who has the poise, depth and emotional quality she has," says Jodie Foster, her director in "Home for the Holidays".

Danes has been blowing people away since she moved to L.A. from New York four years ago. Steven Spielberg sent her a script for his Holocaust masterpiece, "Schindler's List", when she was just 12, before anybody had seen her. (She turned him down because the part was small and the shoot, in Poland, would have been arduous.) Winona Ryder sought her out for the part of Beth in "Little Women" because "Claire's special." Foster whispered in all the right ears to see that Danes got the part of Juliet. "I was really annoying about it." Why? "There's just no comparison."

Danes is the daughter of artists -- her parents met at the Rhode Island School of Design -- and grew up in Manhattan's SoHo. Her mom, Carla, now also her manager, says Claire's environment has much to do with her calling. She took dancing lessons and acting class and attended the Junior High School for the Performing Arts.

In MSCL, which always had the critics' hearts, Danes first proved she has more than promise. Her movie rolse since, small as some have been, are further evidence of her innate talent. Whether she'll be "bankable" -- a star like 19-year-old Alicia Silverstone, who now has a $10 million deal -- is another thing. In Hollywood, talent doesn't equal money. Think Meryl Streep vs Demi Moore. Robert De Niro vs. Jim Carrey.

Right now Danes cares little about the money. "I'd be miserable if I weren't acting," she says convincingly. But she's no babe in the woods on this topic. "Alicia Silverstone is making $10 million. How crazy is that? Teachers make, like, $20,000 a year? That's so cockeyed. What is our society doing? It's getting insane." Then she adds, impishly: "The pendulim's got to swing, though. I'm sure (that) just in the prime of my career, actors will be making _no_ money."

So far, she has made enough for a new Blazer, and hired an accountant. "I've got my college money covered. I've got my car. By 16, I don't think you can ask for too much more."

Patience isn't Danes' best virtue. "I can't wait till I'm an adult doing an adult job. Things will just make so much more sense. It will be a lot easier." You don't want to tell her it's not necessarily so.

Originally transcribed by: Andi Wolf Dolphin

© USA Today 1995, Photo by Naomi Kaltman