Date of Birth: April 12, 1979
Although Claire Danes' much doted-on TV series My So-Called Life fixed her image as Everyteen, she hardly had an Everychild upbringing.
Growing up in a loft in SoHo, New York City's art district, her art-school-grad parents encouraged her precocious interest in performing. At six, Danes studied modern dance, and by nine, she enrolled in the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute.
Taking her art very seriously, her earnestness—including a bold decision at the age of 12 to turn down a job on One Life to Live to avoid the typecasting taint of soap work—was worth it. Before her reaching her teens, Danes had attended the Professional Performing Arts School and appeared in some off-off Broadway productions.
When the family rented loft space to a struggling photographer who offered head shots of Danes in lieu of rent, she promptly acquired an agent, enlisted her mother as her manager and landed work on Law & Order, a few TV movies, and a Dudley Moore sitcom pilot. She was offered a small role in Schindler's List but turned it down when she couldn't arrange a suitable tutor for the Poland shoot. All was not lost—it led to an audition for My So-Called Life in 1992.
The Life crew was instantly smitten by the second actress to read for the part of Angela Chase, a then 13-year-old Danes. But ABC was less smitten with the teen drama. The network waffled about the pilot, shot in early 1993, for almost a year. Finally, in early 1994, Danes and her parents moved to Los Angeles, where she worked for six months filming and studying.
Her industriousness was a mixed blessing. Despite critical rapture and devoted fans, poor ratings led ABC to pull the plug in early '95. But the critical adoration and exposure turned the sad ending into a decidedly happy one.
Danes won an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe for her work, not to mention an entree into Hollywood. Just as Life was airing its last, Danes was debuting on movie screens as the tragic Beth March in Little Women. She then nabbed small but key roles in How to Make An American Quilt and Jodie Foster's Home for the Holidays and has been busy ever since.
In 1996 Danes would land a lead role that would expose her to the world. Her turn as the lovely Juliet in the modernization of Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, across from teen heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio, was a hit and proved she could capture the attention of moviegoers as she had with television.
Though she has charmed the masses, Danes eagerly joined her peers as a college student, enrolling at Yale in the fall of 1998. While studying, she chose only to make films during summer breaks, often resulting in major duds such as The Mod Squad and Brokedown Palace (both 1999). She then took a break from filming, returning to the big screen in 2002 with a supporting role in Igby Goes Down, followed by a role in the critically acclaimed The Hours, which won a Golden Globe for Best Picture and starred Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore. She acted alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), then co-starred with Joaquin Phoenix in It's All About Love (2004).
While filming Stage Beauty (2004) in 2003, she fell in love with co-star Billy Crudup, whose girlfriend of seven years, actress Mary-Louise Parker, was pregnant with his child. He left Parker for Danes, 11 years his junior. Parker went on to give birth to Crudup's son, whom she named William Atticus. Danes and Crudup have since broken up and in September 2009, she married British actor Hugh Dancy, whom she met in 2006 while filming Evening. On December 17, 2012, she gave birth to their first child, a son named Cyrus Michael Christopher Dancy.
Filmography:Me and Orson Welles (2009)