Claire Danes

Claire Danes Biography

(1979–)
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Film and television actress Claire Danes began her critically acclaimed career as a 15-year-old star of the ABC series 'My So Called Life,' moving on to films like 'The Rainmaker' before her Emmy-winning role on Showtime's 'Homeland.'

Who Is Claire Danes?

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 pursued roles that cast her both in smaller, arty films and larger, more expensive blockbusters. Her credits include Terminator 3, The Hours and The Rainmaker. Beginning in 2011, she reestablished herself in television as CIA agent Carrie Mathison on Showtime's Homeland, winning Emmys in 2012 and 2013. 

Early Years and Career

Claire Catherine Danes was born on April 12, 1979, in New York City, New York. While neither of Danes' parents were involved in show business — her father, Chris, was a photographer and computer consultant and 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 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. Enrolled 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 in a failed pilot starring Dudley Moore.

TV and Film Roles

'My So-Called Life'

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, which eventually debuted in late summer 1994. While ratings for the program never ballooned, My So-Called Life proved to be a hit with critics, with Danes even winning a Golden Globe for best actress. However, ABC's patience for the show was thin, and the series was pulled after just 19 episodes.

'Little Women,' 'How to Make an American Quilt'

Even before the end of her television show, Danes had started to make her way onto the big screen. She made her feature film debut in 1994's Little Women, opposite Kirsten Dunst, Christian Bale and Winona Ryder, and a year later, she appeared in How to Make an American Quilt.

'Romeo + Juliet,' 'The Rainmaker,' 'Les Misérables'

By the late 1990s, Danes's film career only seemed to have an upward trajectory. She co-starred with Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet (1996), enjoyed a major role in The Rainmaker (1997) and was cast as Cosette in an update of Victor Hugo's classic tale Les Misérables (1998).

'The Hours,' 'Terminator 3'

In 1998, Danes 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." After completing two years at Yale, she slowly returned 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.

'Shopgirl,' 'Temple Grandin'

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

'Homeland'

Danes went on to another television triumph with Showtime's Homeland. Debuting in 2011, the series featured Dane as CIA agent Carrie Mathison, who suspects a Marine sergeant (Damian Lewis) of being involved in a possible terror plot. The role brought Dane strong reviews and numerous accolades, including Emmys in 2012 and 2013 for outstanding lead actress in a drama series. Lewis also picked up an Emmy, while the show's Emmy and Golden Globe wins underscored its standing as one of TV's premier programs. Following eight seasons, Homeland signed off in April 2020.

Her big screen projects largely taking a backseat during her lengthy run on Homeland, Danes eventually surfaced in the 2017 comedy Brigsby Bear and the 2018 drama A Kid Like Jake.

Husband and Children

In September 2009, Danes married British actor Hugh Dancy in a small ceremony in France. The couple met while filming the 2007 movie Evening. They had their first child together, a son named Cyrus, in December 2012, and welcomed a second son, Rowan, in August 2018.

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

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