×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Watch Claire Danes Receive Her Walk of Fame Star

Even as teen thesp, ‘Homeland’ star awed directors with her skills and creative courage

When fellow pros talk about Claire Danes, certain words and phrases come up again and again: professional. Dedicated. Fearless. Immensely talented.

In fact, Danes’ talent is so startling that she intimidated Marshall Herskovitz, then an executive producer of “My So-Called Life,” when he first met her.

Herskovitz says when Danes — who gets her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Sept. 24 — auditioned for the role of Angela Chase, a stage direction called for Angela’s eyes to well up. Right on cue, Danes delivered a complete physical reaction to the scene.

“I remember sitting there going, ‘This is amazing, but she could never do that again. She’s 13 years old!’” But Danes executed exactly that reaction every time she performed the scene.

“It was like she was this alien,” Herskovitz says. “We didn’t know how to talk to her because we were in such awe of her talent. We weren’t afraid of her because of her behavior or anything like that — she was a sweet young girl — it was because she was so brilliant. It was like, ‘Should we give her any direction at all?’ It sounds silly now, but we were intimidated by this 13-year-old genius. It’s much easier to talk to her now that she’s grown up.”

That same gift for nailing a scene without a lot of hand-holding was in evidence on the set of HBO’s “Temple Grandin.” Director Mick Jackson had admired Danes’ feature film performances before he cast her in the biopic. “That kind of obsessive determination to get it right,” he says, “and that intensity, were the same qualities we wanted to bring out in Temple. And courage.”

On set, Jackson found that Danes needed little guidance. “She had her own way of motivating herself, her own way of training herself in what the part needed,” Jackson says. “I decided I wasn’t going to get in the way of that.” Danes kept mum during pre-production on how she was approaching the titular role. Even with HBO executives on set for the first day of shooting, Jackson had no idea what she had planned. He said “action,” and she inhabited the character.

“It was an amazing recreation, not an aping of the person like an impersonator does, but really a recreation of Temple. She walked in Temple’s body. She spoke with Temple’s voice.” An astonishing feat, he says, given the only prosthetics used were a wig and a small cap for her front teeth.

Alex Gansa says he began creating “Homeland” after seeing Danes in “Temple Grandin,” and initially named the lead character Claire. “We wanted someone to disappear into the role and also be able to portray someone who isn’t necessarily likeable.”
Gansa says Danes relishes playing difficult characters. “She likes an intellectual challenge. She likes a character who’s a puzzle,” he says.

In Danes, Gansa found a creative partner and kindred spirit who brings new twists to every scene. “Claire and I often look at each other and recognize the nerd in each other,” he says. “She’s a beautiful woman and also a nerd — it’s so charming.”

Danes has also impressed directors with her willingness to take on about any physical challenge they can throw at her. On “Temple Grandin,” says Jackson, “We asked her to do some really physically demanding things, not just walking knee-deep in cow poop — which she did regularly and without complaining,” Jackson says. “She did things that were actually scary, like running through a field of stampeding cattle, or lying on her back in a field while huge cows grazed around her. She did all this without complaining. It takes tremendous guts to do that.”

What’s next for Danes? At the moment she’s focused on filming season five of “Homeland,” but she also has a guest appearance coming up on Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix series, “Master of None.”

Gansa says, “I know she has the producer bug. She wants to create shows, she may even want to write them. I know she wants to be involved in getting a show up and off the ground. I can’t think of anybody more suited to do it.”

Tipsheet
What: Claire Danes receives star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
When: 11:30 a.m. Sept. 24
Where: 6541 Hollywood Blvd.
Web: walkoffame.com

More Scene

  • Dan Stevens

    'Legion' Star Dan Stevens Says His Character Would Fight Thanos, 'Wreak Havoc' in MCU

    Dan Stevens said his powerful, telepathic mutant Legion would do some serious damage if he ever crossed over from the eponymous FX series into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Legion would wreak havoc. He’d probably take on Thanos, let’s see that,” he told Variety on the red carpet at the premiere of the trippy, mind-bending superhero series [...]

  • Anthony Anderson LADF

    Why Anthony Anderson and Billie Jean King are Giving Back with the Dodgers Foundation

    Celebrities and athletes came together at the Dodgers Foundation Blue Diamond Gala to celebrate the team’s commitment to supporting youth and to catch a glimpse of the event’s headliner: Bruno Mars. Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss were honored at the fifth annual event, which raised over $3 million for programs benefiting Los Angeles youth. [...]

  • Shia LaBeouf poses at the premiere

    Shia LaBeouf to Host Birthday Fundraiser for Slauson Rec. Theater Company

    Shia LaBeouf is celebrating his 33rd birthday by giving back. The actor, who turned 33 on June 11, will host a fundraising concert later this month for the Slauson Rec Theater Company, a 10-month-old free performing arts program he co-founded in downtown Los Angeles. The night will also include a preview of the Slauson Rec [...]

  • Awkwafina, Lulu Wang Celebrate New York

    Awkwafina Wants 'The Farewell' to Break Boundaries of Cultural Differences

    Family dysfunction is universal despite cultural differences. That’s what writer and director Lulu Wang wants audiences to take away from her film “The Farewell” starring Awkwafina. “This movie will teach us universality out of specificity. There’s something that we can all kind of relate to across cultures. There’s something we still have to learn about [...]

  • Elizabeth Debicki

    Elizabeth Debicki Talks About Being Supported by Other Women in Hollywood

    Elizabeth Debicki is looking to the future — which makes sense, since she was named Women in Film and Max Mara’s “Face of the Future” for 2019. “No pressure,” Debicki laughed when Variety asked the actress about the honor on the red carpet. “It means a great deal. I have always deeply respected the work [...]

  • Carla Gugino Jett

    How Carla Gugino Is Redefining the Anti-Hero in Cinemax's Crime Drama 'Jett'

    “This is like no character I’ve ever played,” Carla Gugino told Variety on the red carpet at the premiere of Cinemax’s “Jett” on Tuesday night. “I think television is filled with great roles for women, which is such a godsend these days. But the anti-hero — there’s still a double standard there.” In the new series, Gugino [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content