×
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

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Keke Palmer BlogHer19 Summit

    Keke Palmer Brought to Tears Accepting Truth Teller Award at #BlogHer19 Creators Summit

    Keke Palmer stood surprised and wide-mouthed on the #BlogHer19 Creators Summit stage as she was presented with the Truth Teller Award for her recent acting work — and her viral “sorry to this man” clip. “This means so much,” the multi-hyphenated star softly whispered as she got teary-eyed upon accepting the award. Last week, the [...]

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 19:

    Emmys 2019: Inside All the Hottest Pre-Parties

    It’s (Emmys) party time! Before the 71st annual Emmys go live on Sunday, stars and execs are keeping busy by party-hopping in the days leading up to the big show. Here, Variety gives you the inside details on who was where and what they were doing. Keep checking back right here throughout the weekend for [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez Green Dress

    Jennifer Lopez Closes Out Versace Show in Famous Green Grammys Dress

    Jennifer Lopez has found her way back into the Versace dress that broke the internet in 2000. The “Hustlers” star closed out Versace’s Spring 2020 show in a re-worked version of the revealing, bright green silk chiffon dress that she wore to the Grammy Awards 20 years ago. The dress quickly became a pop-culture phenomenon, [...]

  • 10 Storytellers to Watch

    Variety Celebrates Inaugural 10 Storytellers to Watch Event

    Storytellers from across the spectrum of entertainment — film, literature, podcasting and play writing — were honored Thursday at Variety’s inaugural 10 Storytellers to Watch luncheon at Gramercy Park Hotel, hosted with partner the Independent Filmmaker Project and presented by Audible. Honorees Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of “Friday Black”; “Limetown” podcasters Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie; [...]

  • Demi Moore Corporate Animals

    Demi Moore Teases Upcoming Memoir 'Inside Out,' Talks 'Corporate Animals' Team Bonding

    As Demi Moore gears up for the Sept. 24 release of her autobiography “Inside Out,” the actress says she feels like a weight has been lifted. “Even the stuff that I may have been nervous about is completely lifting…because it’s a process,” Moore told Variety at the premiere of her upcoming film “Corporate Animals” at [...]

  • Connie Britton BlogHer Summit

    Connie Britton on ‘Friday Night Lights’ Remake: ‘You Need to Let it Go’

    Connie Britton opened up at a fireside chat Wednesday at the #BlogHer19 Creators Summit in Brooklyn by talking about one of her most beloved roles — Tami Taylor in the fan favorite series “Friday Night Lights.” When asked if a remake of the sports cult film and Emmy-winning TV show is in the works she [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content