Claire Danes

Film and television actress Claire Danes began her critically acclaimed career as a 15-year-old star in the ABC series, ‘My So Called Life’ and later with her Emmy-winning television role in Showtime’s ‘Homeland.’


Actress Claire Danes was on born April 12, 1979, in New York City. Following her breakout role as a 15-year-old in the critically lauded ABC series, My So Called Life, Danes has pursued roles that have cast her in smaller, arty films and larger, more expensive blockbusters. Her credits include Terminator 3, The Hours, and The Rainmaker. In 2011 she reestablished herself in television as a CIA agent in Showtime's 'Homeland,' winning Emmys in 2012 and 2013. 

Early Years

Claire Catherine Danes was born on April 12, 1979, in New York City, New York. While neither of Danes's parents were involved in show business—her father Chris is a computer consultant, her mother Carla a textile designer. Danes showed an early interest in the stage. "I was very driven to act from a very young age, and my parents were not only tolerant of that drive but also encouraging," she told The Guardian newspaper in 2005.

For Danes, a passion for acting had come at the age of six, when she began studying modern dance and caught a whiff of life on the stage. Her parents enrolled her in a performing arts school, Danes took Saturday morning acting classes and soon landed an agent.

Her career was far from an overnight success. With her parents support, Danes maintained an early, sporadic television schedule. She made a few appearances on NBC's Law & Order, and was eventually cast on a failed pilot starring Dudley Moore.

In 1992, Danes caught her first big break when she landed the starring role of Angela Chase, a curious, hyper-intelligent teen in the ABC series, My So Called Life. But the network was not so quick to add it to its prime-time lineup.

Finally, though, after nearly two years of waiting, the show made it on television. While ratings for the program never ballooned, the show proved to be a hit with critics, and Danes's performance was a big reason why. Danes even earned a Golden Globe for Best Actress, but ABC's patience for the show was thin, and the series was pulled after just 19 episodes.

Broader Success

Even before the end of her television show, Danes had started to make serious inroads in the film world. In 1994 she made her feature debut in Little Women, opposite Kirsten Dunst, Christian Bale, and Winona Ryder. A year later she appeared in How to Make an American Quilt.

By the late 1990s, Danes's film career only seemed to have an upward trajectory. She co-starred with Leonardo DiCaprio in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1996), had a major role in The Rainmaker (1997), and took on the role of Cosette in version of Victor Hugo's classic tale, Les Misérables (1998).

For Danes, however, something was missing. In 1998, she put her film career on hold to pursue an undergraduate degree at Yale University. "I needed to find myself," she explained. "I had played so many roles but I didn't really know who I was."

Danes would go on to complete two years at Yale before slowly returning to her acting career. There were small roles at first, like The Hours (2002), before Danes was back at it full-time. In 2003 she co-starred in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Danes continued to tackle roles in such interesting films as Shopgirl (2005), Evening (2007), and Stardust (2007), among other projects. In addition, she ventured onto the small screen, too. In 2009, Danes played the role of an autistic woman in the HBO film, Temple Grandin., which brought the talented actress her first Emmy Award.

Danes has recently enjoyed another television triumph. The Showtime series Homeland debuted in 2011, featuring Dane as a CIA agent. Her character suspects a Marine sergeant (Damian Lewis) of being involved a possible terror plot. The role brought Dane strong reviews and numerous accolades, including a 2012 and 2013 Emmy Award (outstanding lead actress in a drama series). Additionally, Danes's co-star, Damian Lewis, garnered an Emmy (outstanding lead actor in a drama series), and the series took home both a Golden Globe (best television series) and an Emmy (outstanding drama series) in 2012.

In 2015 and 2016, Danes garnered Emmy nominations once again for her work on the show. 

Personal Life

After briefly moving out to Los Angeles, California, to work on My So Called Life, Danes returned to New York City for good when she was 18. She continues to reside there.

In September of 2009, Danes married British actor Hugh Dancy. They were wed during a small ceremony in France. The couple met while filming the movie Evening. They welcomed their first child together, son Cyrus, in December 2012.

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