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Claire Danes Interviews
Claire Danes Stage Beauty
Interviewed by Anwar Brett BBC Films
Successfully steering the path from child to adult roles, Claire Danes has packed a lot into her 25 years. A small screen star in her teens thanks to My So-Called Life, her film roles include Little Women, Romeo + Juliet, The Hours, Igby Goes Down, and - bizarrely - Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines. In Stage Beauty she plays a theatrical dresser who dreams of becoming a star in her own right.
What preparation did you do for your role as Maria?
I listened rather obsessively to some voice tapes and tried to immerse myself in the sound as much as possible. I worked with a dialect coach in New York, and Joan Washington here in London - who was a godsend. But the toughest part was getting rid of my self consciousness.
When Maria starts out as an actress she's pretty bad. Is bad acting difficult when you clearly know better?
It's pretty challenging because it ran counter to all of my instincts and all of my training. But I was trying to divorce the gesture from the emotion, to reveal the effort behind the work.
Is the chance to do a costume drama for an American screen actor a rare thrill?
I did Little Women, when I was a very little woman myself. But America's history is not as impressive as your own.
How was it wearing the costumes. Did they help you find the character you were playing?
Absolutely. Wearing a dress was not alien to me, but wearing this kind of dress was a bit unusual. They are pretty constricting so they influence your movement and behaviour. And I was really glad for them because I had no choice but to sit upright. I didn't have to remind myself to act 'period' because the corset was enabling me to do that pretty naturally.
Having played a theatre actor on screen do you have any plans to be one for real and come to work on the London stage?
I haven't done any formal theatre work but I would love to. I'm really curious about that experience now after having told this story and worked with these people who have been so shaped by that community and culture. Working here in London with a largely English cast, I suppose I was a little daunted by the prospect of having to play the first English actress. I felt a little unqualified and unworthy being 'a Yank'. But I trusted that Richard had hired me for a reason and that I was capable of answering the demands of the part. And everybody was very encouraging. I was relieved to discover their warmth.
Claire Danes, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Interviewed by David Michael, BBC Films
Claire Danes is famous for starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet" and not starring in "Titanic" (she turned it down). Since returning from a three-year acting hiatus (she was studying at Yale), she's appeared in an interesting set of movies - Danish maverick Thomas Vinterberg's "It's All About Love"; the Oscar-winning "The Hours"; and indie curio "Igby Goes Down". But nothing is more curious than her presence in the new "Terminator" film.
What's Claire Danes doing in a Terminator movie?
I still don't believe I'm in a Terminator movie! It's really incongruous to the rest of my career; I'm well aware of that. I'm getting so many double takes, I'm thinking - what? Are you serious! But I'm always interested in experimenting with different styles of acting and different medians, and if I was ever to do a big flashy action movie, I think "Terminator" is a good place to start.
What does your character do in the film?
She can do all sorts of things. I describe her as a Swiss army knife, as she has all these different qualities that you wouldn't expect. Once she's abducted by the Terminator and company, all of her plans are derailed, and she finds herself in the centre of utter chaos and destruction, and she has to be very pro-active and resourceful. It was great to affect the action as much as my character does.
Did you pick up any skills that you didn't have before?
I learnt how to shoot a machine gun in this movie, which is something I never imagined I'd ever have to do! Of course my mother was visiting on set that day, the only day she came - [adopts mother voice] "Oh Claire, are you alright? What's happened to you?"
How do you relate to someone who's a proactive, action orientated, pick-up-a-gun type?
I don't really. I pretend. I wish I was as magnificently capable as my character is in this movie. She finds herself in a dire circumstance and she's running on pure adrenalin.
Are you likely to turn up in any other action movies?
It's not on my immediate agenda. It wasn't like I was hankering to make an action movie - it appeared. It was an anomalous occurrence. I'm thankful for it, because I had a wonderful time, but I don't imagine I'm going to be in the habit of doing huge blockbusters.
FROM THE NEWS ARCHIVES OF CINEMA CONFIDENTIAL
INTERVIEW: Claire Danes on "Shopgirl"
POSTED ON 10/18/05 AT 11:00 A.M.
BY ETHAN AAMES
Claire Danes is very plain-pretty, which works really well in her favor as she stars in Shopgirl, opening this week. Based on the bestselling novella by Steve Martin, Shopgirl is directed by Anand Tucker (Hilary and Jackie) and co-stars Martin and Jason Schwartzman. In Shopgirl, Danes plays Mirabelle, a Vermont native living in Los Angeles who finds herself lost in love between two very different men.
Below, Danes talks about starring in the film adaptation with Martin.
Q: You have to pull off a difficult task of not having a skip in your step at the beginning, but then appear to find happiness as the movie progresses
CLAIRE: That was all intentional, actually. I can say that and mean that! Anand was very careful to plot the moments. In the beginning, he really wanted to emphasize my stillness, which was scary because its hard to trust that thats going to be enough, that the audience is going to remain engaged with her when she seems to be giving very little. I think it was going to be important to show [that] she starts to find joy by physically articulating it at some point.
Q: Have you ever met anyone like Ray that cant seem to commit to truly loving someone?
CLAIRE: Ive not met anyone like that. [laughs] Personally, no, but its easy to extrapolate. Thats my job. Its to find the kernel of truth and just exaggerate and exaggerate to an appropriate scale. These arent alien creatures. These are all pretty acceptable and pretty common. But thats what I think makes it ironically striking.
Q: How did you react when you got the role and was there any trepidation on your part?
CLAIRE: Well I was thrilled when I learned the opportunity arose. I had read the book and was really affected by it. I knew a lot of people who were so Im not very special for having been moved by it. But I was and I couldnt have been in more exquisite company. I loved Hilary and Jackie and so I felt comfortable that Anand would render the story to its subtlety and depth and smarts. Steve has really been a hero of mine forever. It was a total joy and I really felt capable. Sometimes I am more nervous than others about inhabiting characters because they sometimes seem a little unacceptable. But this one was more vivid because she was so well-written.
Q: How was it to star on-screen with Steve given that he wrote the book and the screenplay? How was that dynamic?
CLAIRE: Steve was incredibly generous. Immediately, he made it very clear that if Jason and I ever needed to rework a scene, we had license to. He was great that way so I never felt confined or pressured to do something that was not intuitive. I never had to do that because the material was incredibly thorough; there was enough there. Also, [its] because Im methodical and Id rather commit to something rather than rework it. So that was good because that made me feel much more relaxed than I could have. It became our story and Steve made it possible. He shared it. Hes been doing it for a long time. I think anybody who knows how to make a good movie knows that its a collaborative undertaking. To deny that is really dangerous. I was really impressed by that because he couldve been possessive and territorial or stingy but he was the antithesis.
Q: Hollywood doesnt make romance movies like this anymore and we were wondering why you think that is?
CLAIRE: It seems like the most successful, iconic love stories are not so easy or escapist. I think the ones that stay with us, that resonate, are full of conflicts, discord, and misunderstanding. Thats what makes drama happen, or even tension if its comedy. I think people who make movies have a lot of money invested in them and get frightened. If they challenge an audience, theyll repel them. The opposite is really true but it takes confidence and courage to know that and commit to that
"Shopgirl" opens this Friday.
Interview: Clare Danes
"Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines"
Posted: Wednesday June 18th, 2003 11:32 PM
Author: Paul Fischer
Location: Los Angeles, CA
As a teenage star, Claire Danes excelled at playing the nice girl, a label she has grown accustomed to. Now at 24, Danes is all grown up and ready to embrace Hollywood as an adult. And in her first major adult role starring opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the much-hyped Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Danes is back --- as a good girl but doing so with a sense of humour and down-to-earth perspective, as PAUL FISCHER discovered.
In the new Hollywood blockbuster Terminator 3, there are two women battling it out for earth's survival. In the one corner, there's the voluptuous and naked Terminatrix [Kristana Loken], and in the other, vet and innocent Kate Brewster, played by a, well, sweet and innocent Claire Danes. Now 24, the actress has a self-mocking attitude about her screen persona and how it has come full circle with T3. "Yeah, the virgin and the whore once again, because you know, my character is pretty admirable," Danes says, laughingly. We're sitting in a large office space in a downtown Los Angeles studio, where parts of T3 were shot. The actress is in a good mood, given that she had just flown in from London mid-way from shooting another film. Asked if she would prefer being 'the whore', Danes smiles. "Not really. I mean it's silly that we isolate these two personas, because I think women are much more integrated than we are acknowledged for being. I don't like or enjoy being exploited."
Though also seen briefly as Meryl Streep's daughter in The Hours and recently in the acclaimed Igby Goes Down, it seems that the far more mainstream T3 is being perceived as her comeback film. But Danes says that comeback or not, that played no part in her decision to do this mother of all blockbusters. "I had made three quite sensitive, progressive, experimental movies that were on a smaller scale so I suppose I felt prepared to blow some stuff up, literally and figuratively," she says, laughingly. "My decision wasn't THAT impulsive. I have a lot of reverence for the first two Terminator movies which I think are really sophisticated, innovative and fun, and I was an admirer of Jonathon Mostow' s work, so I trusted that he would not embarrass us with this." Of course, she hastens to add, "There's something really thrilling about knowing lots of people are going to see me scream for hours." But Danes didn't have much time to give the whole thing a lot of thought.
Though Danes had met with director Mostow months before, he ended up casting another actress, who was fired after a week of work, because Mostow felt she was too young for the role. While the production was scrambling for a replacement, Danes was returning to Los Angeles from Australia, where she had been travelling with her boyfriend, musician Ben Lee. "I just happened to arrive in LA the same afternoon that my agent called me in a panic saying that there is a crisis on the Terminator set, they need to recast the role of Kate Brewster and they would like you to step in immediately. I was so jet lagged and disoriented that I just said yes." Danes said she had no time to think of what it's like going from small, more literary projects such as The Hours, to a gargantuan, adrenalin-charged actioner such as T3. "My character was kidnapped by the Terminator and I was kidnapped by the Terminator production," she says laughingly. "I was just hurled into this alternate reality just had to rally, cope, make some sense of it and use it, as we actresses say."
That she did, screaming on cue but then shooting machines with the best of I'm in this third instalment of the Terminator franchise. Danes describes Kate Brewster as "assertive, authoritative and responsible," the perfect role model for the millions of teenage fans that have followed Claire's career, since TV's My So-Called Life catapulted her into adolescent fame in 1994. As she looks back at her youthful career, she admits that "I'm only realizing now that I was a child actress because I always took myself so seriously." She admits that still does, to a degree. "It's just part of my charm," she says smilingly. "I think because I am as earnest as I am, people were accepting of my evolving into a certified, legitimate, and grown up and I did take three years off. When I was 18 I went to college for two years and didn't work for a year which was essential for me, because my identity had been so influenced by my being an actor and I think I just needed to discover what it was to be myself, divorced from all that responsibility. So I wanted to make sure that I wasn't acting out of habit, but because of a genuine interest and passion and I have lots of competing interests in, I wanted to respect that about myself and give myself a chance to genuinely explore other possibilities. I finally realized that yeah I did want to be an actor and it wasn't out of habit, but I needed to grow up for myself and then kind of re-enter the industry with a sound understanding of what my sensibilities and my values are as a relatively formed human being."
As a teenage movie star, Danes had to deal with the pressures of celebrity and an instant fame that can often affect young actresses. As she began to date musician Ben Lee, her private life was all over the press, but the couple remains intact 6 years later, so perhaps the media attention was not as destructive. "There's certainly something very uncomfortable about the voyeurism involved in being in the press, being an actor, where people have a seemingly insatiable curiosity about, you. However, I'm at a very comfortable place in my career and celebrity, in that I don't have to audition as extensively as I used to for roles but yet I'm not immediately recognizable. So I walk around, ride the subway and occasionally there's a paparazzi lurking in the shadows but it's not very injurious. I haven't been threatened in the way that has crippled me, emotionally or physically." Yet back when she was at the peak of her adolescent fame, at the time of Romeo + Juliet, Danes was a teenage icon, and even today, the Internet remains flooded with dozens of fan sites devoted to the actress. Being a teenage icon is not what it's cracked up to be, says Danes. "It was interesting because I was very representative of teenagers, especially with My So-Called Life and Romeo and Juliet, so I was like a teenager in an abstract and literal sense, which was a bit peculiar, but I couldn't dwell on that as it would drive me pretty insane. I guess it was all kind of weird, but it was MY reality." And she avoids checking out those web sites for obvious reasons. "I did one time and it put me into a tailspin. I was a wreck, because everybody has an opinion, casting all sorts of projections on to my persona which is just very confronting. I don't need to be exposed to people's opinion of me; it just makes me too nervous." Now, Claire is assuredly all grown up, and sees her role in T3 as her first, full, adult role. "Yeah, here I am a vet, I'm engaged, and I fly and do everything."
Is this the new side of Claire Danes? Though she admits she is signed for a T4, the actress still loves the more Jane Austen-type of role, such as the one she is currently shooting. "I'm actually shooting a movie in London right now called Complete Female Stage Beauty. It's Richard Eyre directing it who did Iris some years ago and headed the National Theatre for 20 years and it also stars Billy Crudup, Tom Wilkinson and Rupert Everett. It takes place in seventeenth century England and marks a change from when male actors stopped playing female characters, so I play the first female actress on the stage." And the character she plays as the actress happens to be Othello's Desdemona. "Yeah, the ultimate virgin, but I'm really bad at playing her, so that's ok." It seems that Claire may have come full circle. The actress is still happily dating Ben Lee, and the couple divide their time between Los Angeles and Sydney, where they share an apartment in Bondi. Ms Danes' so-called life is looking pretty good.
On bedding down with Leonardo, thongs versus bikinis and her real so-called life
by Joey Berlin E-Online
Which Claire Danes do you want to know about?
There's the gifted television actress who found fame as the star of My So-Called Life.
There's the budding movie star--the MSCL alum--currently establishing a big-screen presence in two new movies: Baz Luhrmann's over-the-top adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, in which she shares the screen with Leonardo DiCaprio; and the three-hanky Michelle Pfeiffer vehicle To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday. So great is her emerging celebrity that Danes is now the subject of numerous breathlessly maintained home pages.
And then there's the 17-year-old (she turns legal in April) college-bound high school student, grappling with such universal teen challenges as sweating out the arrival of her SAT scores, getting a driver's license and falling in and out and in and out of love.
To talk to Danes is to encounter an unusually well adjusted and articulate young woman. Indeed, she is disarmingly open and willing to answer just about any question put to her about TV Claire, Movie Claire and even Wide-Eyed Teen Claire.
You've been called the poster girl for teen angst.
I know, it's true. I've played these tortured teenagers. I can't wait to shed that image. You know, let a few years go by until I hit my midlife crisis. Then that can be documented on film.
So are you as anguished as the characters you play?
Actually, right now, I'm relatively happy. I feel like I'm turning into more of a woman--I'm getting ready to leave home, go to college, be independent. It's an exhilarating time. And a terrifying one.
Have you loved and lost, as Juliet did?
Yeah, I have, actually. I fell in love a year and a half ago for the first time with this guy, and it was fairly intense. And we were actually breaking up at the time I started filming Romeo + Juliet. It was torture.
How was it making the movie?
We filmed it in Mexico, and everyone got sick. I remember walking into my hotel room one day and looking into the mirror. I was stark white; it really scared me. I asked my mom, "Am I dying?" But it only lasted two or three days. And then there were concerns about safety. We weren't allowed to take taxicabs because we were told the cabdrivers kidnap their passengers; they literally hold a gun to your head and rob you.
We were surrounded by real desperation and poverty. And there we were--in-your-face, obnoxious Americans. Not that we were rude, but we have so much, and we just take it for granted. I was nervous a lot of the time, but it was kind of amazing, too. The circumstances were very similar to the kind of world we were creating onscreen.
Sounds nerve-wracking. How was playing history's greatest lover opposite Leonardo DiCaprio? Was there some spark between you?
There was definitely a spark, but I don't think either of us knew how to handle it. So, we sometimes sort of ignored each other. It was too big for us to really accept.
How did you decide how far to go in the big love scene?
It was never an issue. I always knew that everything would be covered up with sheets. But we shot the "morning after" scene the very first day, and that definitely made us both nervous. We were both in G-strings under the sheets at whatever early hour of the morning. Leo was all squeamish, squirming around all over the place. He jumps around like a maniac. And there I was, being very stoic, lying in bed, just trying to breathe and get through it.
And in To Gillian, you have a scene in which you shock your father by wearing an itsy-bitsy bikini.
Can I just tell you how mortifying that was? I tried negotiating with the director--"Can't I just wear a really sexy one-piece?" He said, "No, Claire."
So, finally we found a bikini I thought was okay. But then we had to reshoot the scene. My best friend in the movie wears a thong, and they decided I had to wear one, too. Well, I threw on that robe the instant they said "Cut." I'll never wear a thong again. I'm a Speedo gal.
Is being a successful teenage actor harder for a girl than for a guy?
I get a little jealous of these actor boys. They walk into a club, and in two seconds flat there are swarms of girls who are wanting so badly to touch them or just say hello. That's not the case with me, or any other girl I know.
You've worked almost nonstop the past few years. What about your education?
I work with a tutor, and whenever I'm between takes we run into my trailer and get in at least 20 minutes of pre-calculus or economics or some other subject. It's difficult. It's like having two full-time jobs. Usually, my social life and my sanity and my health are the things that are sacrificed.
Of course, a lot of successful teenage actors don't bother to finish high school.
It's tricky to keep some sort of perspective. Here you are, making an astounding amount of money at a young age. Everybody loves you, and everything you say is brilliant. You think, Why do I need to go to school when I'm already a genius? But I really value my education. I know I'm far away from knowing it all.
Didn't you get some advice on this subject from Jodie Foster?
Yeah. I did Home for the Holidays with her, and she talked about her experience at Yale. She said college is just too much fun to miss. She emphasized that I could always come back to acting.
Have you decided to which schools you're applying?
The list includes Yale, Sarah Lawrence, Brown, Harvard, Vassar, Barnard and Columbia. I really liked Yale, although it was extremely intimidating. When I visited the campus, I was hiding behind trees, I felt so unworthy.
What do you want to study?
Maybe philosophy--I love talking about ideas. Or maybe art history. I was thinking about psychology, then I got really afraid because everybody says it's terribly boring.
That's all still a year away. What are you up to now?
I just finished a movie called Polish Wedding, with Gabriel Byrne and Lena Olin, and I'm about to do a film for Francis Ford Coppola. I also have a small role in Oliver Stone's Stray Dogs. Joaquin Phoenix plays my boyfriend. It's going to be interesting to be on a Stone set and a Coppola set at the same time. I don't think there could be two more different directors.
Do you ever think of how your life might be different?
If I were in high school, I'd really be into the subjects I was studying, and I might be on a sports team or the debate team. But I'm sure my life would be just as hectic and ridiculously overscheduled as it is now.
So, do you have a boyfriend now?
Yeah, I have a boyfriend. But I'm not ready for anything too serious, so it's working out pretty well.
Is he in the business?
Oh, I shouldn't have said anything--should I have? [Bolts to the door.] See ya!
Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes
Patrick Stoner: "Universal" is the word we use for Shakespeare. That is, what he wrote 400 years ago still speaks to us today. Do you think that Romeo and Juliet falls into that category?
Leonardo DiCaprio: I absolutely do. The themes of the play are very relevant to today. Two young people raised in an atmosphere of hate, who find love in the midst of it. I wasn't sure at first that it WOULD relate, but when I got more involved in the project and realized how everything fit the times we're living in, it all seemed to fit.
Claire Danes: Well, Shakespeare had a powerful grasp on human nature. The story is about young love AND it's about a society that is so corrupt, and so chaotic, and so violent that you have a lost generation.
Stoner: Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
Danes: Yeah, it does. And everyone is always saying that our society is degenerating into a pile of mush, and Shakespeare paints a picture of a society that's grappling with all of that hundreds of years ago.
DiCaprio: Yeah, and in this society you have to realize that you can be picked off at any time. So, Romeo is a kind of rebel -- he rebels against his family, because he resents being raised in an atmosphere of hate, and he rebels against his peers, because their only response to hate is more hate, more violence. It's all very relevant.
Stoner: What about YOUR peers? Do you have any advice for young people?
DiCaprio: As a matter of fact, I do. It's this whole drug thing. It's very upsetting. You see people who have this tremendous need to find a different reality, and drugs seem to be the easiest way to do that. It's certainly not the answer though; it's a trap. I've seen this with my friends, in my personal life. Even if you have to run away from everything -- your friends, whatever -- it's just not the thing to do. There's no way out. I hate to say "Don't do it," because I know that doesn't usually work. But I can tell anyone, it's just no good.
An Interview with Claire Danes
The actress discusses balancing school with acting, making T3, and her upcoming
by IGN Staff
July 1, 2003 - Claire Danes has recently returned to acting with a string of
smaller roles in remarkable movies. Even with her priority shifting to college,
she still appeared in an average of two films a year. In 2002 she reappeared in
two films, The Hours and Igby Goes Down. So far in 2003, Terminator 3: Rise of
the Machines seems to be her major vehicle. Claire plays Kate Brewster, the
girlfriend of John Connor.
During a recent roundtable interview, Claire described her absence from the
movie business to attend college at Yale. "I took three years off. I
differentiated myself from the industry. Found my identity sort of ... I
haven't graduated yet. I'm not legitimately educated yet, but maybe one day. I
don't know, we'll see."
As an actor and a student, it would seem that if school ever became too tough or
too routine, one would long for the excitement of making movies. One wonders if
Danes would think while she was studying that she could be making a movie
instead. "I was very committed to being a student while I was there. So much so
that I'm in disbelief that I had ever acted before. That was confusing. That
really challenged my sense of self for a while, but I think in a really positive
way, because I was very careful not to lament my choices in life. I hadn't been
free from adult responsibilities since I was 12, and I needed to experience
that. I really needed to just be a kid again."
College is hardly 'just being a kid.' "It's really hard, it's really hard ... I
was such a nerd. I was nerdier than most of the other students. My best friend
would get so frustrated with me, because I was quite anal and would get so
obsessive over papers and exams. I took it all so seriously. It was as if I was
sustaining a 100 million dollar movie or something. It was difficult to imagine
that the consequences of my erring in some way would not be so dire."
Claire shared her feelings on returning to acting after her absence, "Three
years had passed since I had acted, and I missed it. I missed it terribly. I
assumed when I started school that I could make a movie every summer, no
problem, like clockwork. And, I should have known better. Of course the industry
doesn't work that evenly. I would sign on for projects that were meant to shoot
in July, and then they would postponed and they would bleed into the following
semester, and then I'd take a semester off, and then the movie would collapse.
It was difficult. Like, Natalie Portman hit gold when she was first in Star
Wars, because it was very convenient every other June, there she was, making a
Interview: Claire Danes
Posted: Monday, September 26th 2005 4:43PM
Author: Paul Fischer
Location: Toronto, ON
Quietly reserved, Claire Danes is in the Toronto Film Festival to firstly support her co-starring role in Steve Martin's Shopgirl and to accompany boyfriend Billy Crudup to the premiere of his latest film, Trust the Man. But it was the former that the pretty actress was here to discuss, a quietly poetic film in which she plays a shop assistant and aspiring artist in Los Angeles searching for requited love, which she things she finds in the arms of a wealthy, older man, plays the film's screenwriter, Steve Martin.
Hers is a difficult character to characterize, this young, naive, vulnerable young woman, whom Danes defines as "really inexperienced in a lot of ways who's pretty much just gotten out of college I mean most of my friends who are at that time in their lives, in that transitional period, feel very ill-equipped to do very practical things. They know how to talk abstractly and theoretically about sophisticated ideas but actually paying for their rent and applying those ideas in a practical way is totally overwhelming and alien. So I think she's just trying to figure out where her edges are, plus she's in a new city, out of step with the culture, trying to get a sense of it and engage with it."
Danes is adept, at interviews, to reveal little of herself and in relating to this character, a woman desperately searching for uncomplicated love, Danes is coy as to whether she can relate to her. " I mean she's very clever, and I even think that she's emotionally savvy," Danes explains about her character. "She's an artist and an observer and just not so aggressive, but identify with her to an extent because "she is so well drawn, but I don't feel like her twin at all. I had to find her and make her sensibility and story relevant to my own. I mean, she's creative, and I'd like to think that I am, and she's pretty sensitive as I am."
Fans of the pretty actress will be surprised at her first nude scene in the film, but Danes strongly feels it was a very relevant moment in the relationship between the characters played by herself and Martin. " I'm not a flasher typically," she begins, laughingly. "I think that the nudity was important for a couple of reasons: One they were in a sexual relationship. which was the dominant reason they were together initially, even though it grows into something more complex than that. Also it's an erotic story and I think that needed to be rendered. But also she's surprising because she's really unsure of herself in some ways and then in other ways she's very sure, confident and even bold, so I think I found that compelling and kind of paradoxical. So because it surprised me about her, I assumed it would surprise the audience and make her more dynamic."
Claire Danes, who will next be seen in the ensemble drama The Family Stone, attained success at an early age, spent some 6 years living with her now former Australian boyfriend in Sydney, and seems to be in the right place in her life, both personally and professionally. Despite the ferocious competitiveness prevalent within Hollywood, Danes is able to balance a perfect career. Asked what it is she is looking for in her career, Danes smiles. "What am I looking for? I tend to, I don't want to say make choices passively but, I don't originate work, I just interpret it. So I I'm not burning to play any one particular role. It's always exciting when I have a chance to play somebody who undergoes some change and growth and is not just a conduit for somebody else's big experience and who actually gets to have one herself. But by the same token I'm also really happy to play a more supporting character - if I love the writing I'm happy to be of service to that."
Beyond Family Stone, Danes says she's next set to do "a movie with Richard Gere - a psychological cop thriller called The Flock, with a Hong-Kong director named Andrew Lau. I've got to do something like that at some stage just to make it all even."
Interview with Claire Danes, Terminator
A remarkable actress with grace and poise beyond her years, Claire Danes has already established herself as one of Hollywoods leading actresses. Danes first came to prominence in Ed Zwick and Marshall Hershkovitzs critically acclaimed "My So-Called Life," where she starred as Angela Chase in the ABC series. Now she plays Kate Brewster, a conservative young veterinarian in this summers sequel, Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines. Here is what she had to say to us:
You notice that you actually get to say that Ill be back in this?
Claire: Ill be back. Do I?
When you tell your fiancÚ that youre going to the hospital.
Claire: I totally didnt even realize that. Youre right. Right. Very clever. I dont think I was conscious, um, I really wasnt, but every time I had to go pee of course Id say Ill be back. Um
Is it kind of being perceived as a comeback movie to you or you dont see it that way?
Claire: That didnt really determine my choice to make this film. I had made three quite sensitive, progressive, experimental movies and, you know, that were on a smaller scale obviously, and I suppose I felt prepared to blow some stuff up, literally and figuratively.
Claire: My decision wasnt THAT impulsive. I have a lot of reverence for the first two Terminator movies. I think theyre really sophisticated, innovative and fun, and I was an admirer of Jonathons work, and so I trusted that he would not embarrass us with this and I mean, yeah, theres something really thrilling about knowing lots of people are going to see me scream for hours.
Is this a good girl power movie with you and the female villain?
Claire: Yeah. Virgin and the whore once again. Yeah, and everything. I mean, you know, my character is pretty admirable. I mean shes assertive and authoritative and responsible and, you know .
Have you signed on for T4?
Claire: Yeah. Oh now I feel really bad that I said virgin and the whore. I feel really bad. Its not like the Terminatrix is in a bikini running around.
You were extraordinarily successful as a child, as a young actress. Has it been difficult to make the transition into adult acceptance?
Claire: Well, I mean, Im only realizing now that I was a child actress because I always took myself so seriously.
Maybe you still do.
Claire: I do, yeah. Its just part of, my charm. I think because I am as earnest as I am, people were accepting of my evolving into a certified, legitimate, and grown up. Um, and I did take three years off. I mean when I was 18 I went to college for two years and, um, didnt work for a year and that was essential for me because my identity had been so influenced by my being an actor and I think I just needed to discover what it was to be myself, divorced from all that responsibility. So I wanted to make sure that I wasnt acting out of habit, but because of a genuine interest and passion and I have lots of competing interests in, I wanted to respect that about myself and give myself a chance to genuinely explore other possibilities. I realized yeah I did want to be an actor and it wasnt out of habit, but I needed to grow up for myself and then kind of re-enter the industry with a sound understanding of what my sensibilities and my values are as a relatively formed human being.
Is this your first adult role as you see it?
Claire: Maybe it is. Maybe if I was a college student, um, yeah, I am a vet, Im engaged, I fly, I do everything.
What WAS it like flying guns?
Claire: It was like being on vibrators; it jars the whole system. Im quite intimidated by guns - they kill people. Its not such a comforting thought, but, I trained with the prop woman who was very reliable and concerned with safety and she consoled me quite a bit. Ive got to say that theres something really invigorating about pulling a trigger, like that pop is so explosive to have so much power in your hand.
Does that represent like a dark side of yourself?
Claire: Yeah, maybe. But you know I remember asking Jonathan before I made this movie, I said do I have to shoot a human being? "No, no, no, you only shoot a machine," so that comforted me.
Being old pro like yourself, is there anything intimidating about Arnold?
Claire: Yeah! I mean, is there anybody more intimidating? No, Meryl [Streep] maybe?
When you go from something like Iggby or The Hours, to a movie where everythings blowing up all around you, and youre screaming the whole time, youre shooting guns. Whats the culture shock of going to a T3 which is clearly not Jane Austen?
Claire: Well you know I was casted the day before they started shooting, so I didnt have any time to concern myself with that. My character was kidnapped by the Terminator and I was kidnapped by the Terminator production, and I was just hurled into this alternate reality and I just had to rally and cope and make some sense of it and use it, as we actresses say.
Was it easier this way??
Claire: Maybe it was. I mean I think I could have benefited from a little preparation.
What was the story with that?
Claire: Well, they hired another actress, not that I care. Oh no, they got another actress. Her name is Sophia Bush and she hadnt worked all that extensively before taking on this role and I think she was quite young; a little bit too young for the role because as weve all established she an actual grown up, this character. [Laughter] And I had been in Australia with Ben and I just happened to arrive in LA the same afternoon that my agent called me in a panic saying he is in a crisis on the Terminator set and they need to recast the role of Kate Brewster and they would like you to step in immediately and I was so jet lagged and so disoriented that I just said yes.
What did they see in you that made them want to cast you?
Claire: Well, I had actually met with Jonathan a couple of months prior to this phone call and we had talked about the possibility of my participating. He was familiar with my work and he thought I was capable of taking on this role.
When you got into the set did you have this sweet flavor of revenge that you didnt cast me, see?
Claire: [Laughter] No, no I didnt. Yeah, I didnt assume an aggressive attitude.
How much do you have to sympathize with the other actress in the situation?
Claire: Well, it was pretty uncomfortable for everyone involved, even for the crew, you know and she had done about a weeks worth of filming and so I had to re-do all of her scenes and I couldnt help but be slightly paranoid.
Did you see what she had done?
How do you get past that, though, with the crew?
Claire: I just had to be a professional. It was kind of cool to be hired because I was a professional. I just thought, Yeah, no, I can step in last minute and save the day.
Are you looking for Jane Austen-type roles?
Claire: Well, Im actually shooting a movie in London right now. I just arrived the night before for the T3 junket. Its called Complete Female Stage Beauty. Its Richard Eyre directing it who did Iris some years ago and headed the National Theatre for 20 years and it has Billy Crudup, Tom Wilkinson and Rupert Everett. It takes place in the seventeenth century in England and it marks a change from when male actors stopped playing female characters and so I play the first female actress on the stage.
What character do you play as the female actress?
Claire: Desdemona. And Im really bad.
Dan Epstein interviews actress Clare Danes.
DAN EPSTEIN: How long did you actually work on The Hours?
CLARE DANES: Not very long. Longer than any of us anticipated. I happened to be in the part of the movie that was reworked. They changed the ending. A year later they called us all back to London. I have essentially a cameo that grew into a substantial part. That's fine by me because everyone's company is so much fun to keep.
DE: What were the changes?
CD: They tweaked the ending and they added a scene. Julianne Moore's character is an old woman and they originally had an actor playing her as an old woman. They didn't like the way she looked so they put Julianne in old age makeup. Julianne was pregnant at the time and she looked funny as an 80 year old woman that's pregnant.
DE: Were you at all intimidated when you found out you would be doing most of your scenes with Meryl Streep?
CD: Totally. She's been my idol since I knew what acting was. Obviously Im not in the minority, every actor my age idolizes her. She's really terrific and couldnt have me feel more comfortable. She's very authentic, warm and sassy. It was pretty surreal. She's very focused, very creative, and one thing I really admired about her was her bravery and her experience. She would do many different takes and they would all have different flavors. Some were more successful than others of course but she followed every single one through and I sometimes [flinch] interrupt the tale. She never did that because she has faith in the work and is open to any surprises that might unfold. But she wasn't afraid to make mistakes. Sometimes you stumble and sometimes you don't. She picked her battles. She had some issues and would argue about some and not others.
DE: You only have a few scenes to define your character. How do you feel you did it?
CD: My character is like the stable one. Alison Janney and I were playing characters that were not traumatized. That was the thing that I had to stress, my normalcy. I understood that to be my responsibility. I guess as an actor you want the chance to have your hysterical moment but that wasn't the case. There is that thing with actors that the fewer lines you have the more you invest in them and the more bloated they become. I really just have to listen to Meryl, which is easy to do.
DE: A lot of people have pegged you as your generations Meryl Streep.
CD: They peg everyone my age as that.
DE: Well how much pressure is that?
CD: I'm thankful for that kind of accolades, it's flattering. But it confused me. I can't really listen to it in the same way that I can't really listen to people's criticisms of my work. It doesn't help me grow as an artist.
DE: Had you seen Billy Elliot before starting The Hours?
CD: Yes I have.
DE: Did you realize how much theater work [director] Stephen Daldry had done?
CD: No I didn't. I loved Billy Elliot. The Hours was a risky project because it's a difficult story to translate to film because it's so anachronistic. It was hard to integrate all the themes and characters. But the film did it very successfully.
DE: Has Virginia Woolf been a big part of your life?
CD: I have read quite a bit of her work. I read Mrs. Dalloway and a few others.
DE: For such a heavy movie like The Hours, were there any light moments on set?
CD: Yeah totally. I guess I assumed Meryl would be really intellectual and serious. She's a hoot and a holler. She's so fun and she values that. She sees it as an integral part of the process. We would sneak glasses of wine at the end of the day. She just has a really hearty laugh. Towards the end of shooting I got really sick with a fever of 102. I was collapsing between takes.
DE: How was shooting Terminator 3?
CD: Different from The Hours [laughs]. It was good. I had a blast. I never did a genre of that kind and on that scale. I was pretty overwhelmed. I play Kate Miller. She's a veterinarian and she's engaged to kind of a conservative kind of guy and the terminator abducts her. John Connor comes to save her andadventures unfold.
DE: Did you emulate Sigourney Weaver in Aliens?
CD: I do have awesome lines. But I'm sworn to secrecy. I'm pretty impressive in it.
DE: Who was more threatening to work with the exoskeleton or Meryl?
CD: The skeleton. In terminator I played most of my scenes to a piece of yellow tape in front of a green screen. When audiences first see the movie that will be the first time I've seen in it. The director Jonathan Mostow is a really good action director. He understands suspense and tension. It's going to be a really cool fast chase.
DE: Would you do another Terminator movie?
CD: Well I'm contracted to. I don't know if I'm going to make it a habit to pursue all the franchises but I really loved doing as many different kinds of movies as possible. I haven't been too stereotyped and I'm grateful for that.
DE: They just released My So Called Life on DVD. Have they sent you one?
CD: No they haven't. I'm going to have to go buy one.
DE: What do you think when you look back on that time?
CD: I think very fondly of that time. Very positive. It was groundbreaking for television but it was also groundbreaking for me as a person. It was my first steady gig and legitimate job. I had done different guest spots on Law and Order in New York. It was such a blessing because everyone working on that show was so smart and so supportive. They were really interested in making my transition into the business as gentle, focused and healthy as possible.
I really was a miserable teenager. I did not perform well socially in junior high. I was a strange girl and I was in a lot of pain because of that like most teenagers. But I had the privilege of venting and complaining about it in a way people took seriously. To have a forum to release my frustration and anger was an incredible gift. It was very cathartic.
Claire Danes of Shopgirl
Interview by Daniel Robert Epstein and Joanna Topor, contributing editor UGO
Claire Danes is all grown up. The 26-year-old actress, who got her start as Angela Chase on My So-Called Life has charmed us in films like Stage Beauty, kicked serious butt in Terminator 3, made a stop in at Yale for a degree in Psychology and now she's starring in the adaptation of the Steve Martin novella, Shopgirl. She plays the young artist Mirabelle Buttersfield who is romanced by both an older wealthy man played by Steve Martin and a young directionless schmuck played by Jason Schwartzman.
UGO: Tell us about Shopgirl. Can you elaborate on your character?
CLAIRE DANES: I play Mirabelle Buttersfield and she has just moved to LA from Vermont and is trying to assimilate to a new environment and establish an adult life for herself and it proves to be pretty challenging. She's an artist who has a day job at Sacks and falls in love with a much older man.
UGO: What does Mirabelle see in her two men?
CLAIRE: Jeremy [Schwartzman's character] is a mess but he's a charming mess. He's not offering enough when she initially meets him. He's not ready. But when she re-encounters him and sees the transformation that he's undergone, no matter how superficial, I think she trusts that he's moving in some way. I think he really likes her and that's a pretty powerful aphrodisiac. If somebody likes me, I'm inclined to like them.
UGO: What drew you to Shopgirl?
CLAIRE: I read the novella when it first came out and was really impressed and moved by it. I've admired Steve's work forever; I think that he's one of the most inspired comics of all time and really one of the most influential filmmakers. [He] is also incredibly cultured and sophisticated and clever, he's really accomplished in so many areas, so to have an opportunity to work with him and just get to know him as a person was one that I leapt at. And I had a chance to play a character that was pretty complex and had a lot of growing to do.
UGO: How much influence did you have on the fashion you wore for this film?
CLAIRE: Nancy Steiner designed the costumes and she's incredibly gifted. It was really exciting to collaborate with her because she's really capable and imaginative and empathetic and has great style. So we had a lot of conversations about how we would articulate her experience and her character through clothing. Steve [Martin] was always talking about how important details are in this movie and in keeping with that, she was so specific in her choices, down to the little bird pins she wore. I think my character has a great aesthetic sense. She's an artist and has an inherent dignity. But she could afford very little, so I had this idea for wearing vintage clothes because you can find beautiful things.
UGO: Shopgirl is basically a memoir of Steve Martin's love life.
CLAIRE: Yeah, I mean I think he drew from his personal experiences. It's definitely an intimate story but I think it's an amalgam of many different relationships that he's had and absolutely a work of fiction. And certainly by the time it's gotten to this phase, it's now shared. I'm referencing my own relationships; it's just not credited at the end.
UGO: Did you like being so close to Steve Martin?
CLAIRE: He's a formidable guy, you know? And he's surprisingly sensitive and sensual actually. He's a real romantic I've discovered, and that's very appealing, there's nothing too hard about that.
UGO: How does Martin have such great insight into women?
CLAIRE: I don't know. It's really impressive that he's been able to draw this woman so convincingly and so compassionately. I guess he's known a few of them.
UGO: Steve seems to be a huge fan of yours. He was quoted as saying that if you don't get an Oscar he was going to kill himself.
CLAIRE: I'm just so glad I didn't disappoint him, that's enough right there. I'm really grateful for his support and his enthusiasm, it's dreamy. He's an icon and he's been an idol of mine...so to hear kind words expressed by him about me is really incredible.
UGO: It was an interesting choice for Steve to pick a European director like Anand Tucker to direct this quintessential LA film.
CLAIRE: Anand created this vivid portrait of LA because it was a little alien to him. Some directors' connections really capture something simply because it is not so familiar to them. I think of Ang Lee doing Sense and Sensibility. Sometimes it takes an outsider to really get the scoop.
UGO: What was it like working with Jason Schwartzman?
CLAIRE: He's a riot. We've been really good friends for many years and he's great in the formal sense of the word. I think he's an important actor and will continue to make really imaginative, surprising, unique works. He's just a lot of fun and a great writer too ... my facial muscles hurt after hanging around with him.
UGO: The love triangle in Shopgirl is interesting because Steve Martin and Jason Schwartzman's characters never meet.
CLAIRE: Oh, I never thought of that. They are in the same scene. Maybe that's the sequel.
UGO: I've never seen you on the cover of FHM or Maxim, are you ever going to do something like that?
UGO: There was a nude scene in Shopgirl.
CLAIRE: Yeah, but that had to do with illustrating a relationship. FHM is really providing material for guys to jerk off to. That's not my ambition.
UGO: So, were you nervous about the nudity?
CLAIRE: To a certain extent. I've never done anything like that before, but I also trusted Anand [Tucker, the director] and Peter [Suschitzky] the DP completely so I knew I wasn't going to be exploited by them and I also knew why I was doing it. It's an important moment for her [Mirabelle] because she's already been established as being kind of timid and passive and here she's the opposite, she's actually really incisive and initiates the event and is brave enough to make herself very vulnerable, very quickly and there's something really nice about that. And I know that people can say, "Oh isn't that classic, the guy gets it all." But I don't know, she has a lot of authority there and she's unapologetic about it and she's sexual. He's [Martin's character] the one that's a wreck. He's the one who always needs to be drunk and she's really at ease and she never really takes that back. So anyway, that I liked.
UGO: Can you believe it's been 10 years since My So-Called Life?
CLAIRE: I can believe it. I've done a lot since then and I've changed a lot and I'm so grateful for that gift and that experience. It just arrived at a perfect time in my life personally, and it was so exquisitely written and so innovative and insightful. I'm still really close to a lot of the actors and Winnie Holtzman the writer is a mentor of mine and a good friend and it was a great environment to begin working as an actor. It was auspicious.
UGO: Do people still call you Angela?
CLAIRE: Yeah, television is incredibly impactful and powerful. A failure of a show accesses more people than the most successful movie. Movies are talked about with, I don't know, a kind of more reverence or something, but they're not as powerful culturally. TV stars have a whole other level of celebrity.
UGO: What's next for you?
CLAIRE: I'm also in a movie called The Family Stone that's coming out soon. I'm doing a movie called The Flock with Richard Gere that's directed by a director from Hong Kong named Andrew Lau. We start shooting in three weeks in Albuquerque, New Mexico.