Claire Danes on “Homeland,” motherhood and turning 40

Claire Danes wears coat and pants by Max Mara, watch by Cartier, bracelet and necklace by Loren Stewart, rings by Sarah & Sebastian and Stvdio and earrings by Laura Lombardi. Photographed by Yelena Yemchuk for for Porter. All items can be purchased straight from the magazine pages via NET-A-PORTER.COM.

Actor Claire Danes talks to to NET-A-PORTER’s digital title, PORTER, about playing a mother both on and off screen, reminiscing about filming Romeo + Juliet and My So-Called Life, and about watching her husband Hugh Dancy act in the final season of Homeland: “That was such a nice way to end the show. I didn’t have a single scene with him, but on my days off I would go to his set. He’s very good. I don’t exactly forget that, but we don’t talk about acting much, so it was a really nice reminder.” She concluded that watching your partner doing something they are really good at is so hot”.

Danes also enjoys exploring two different sides to motherhood, as her on-screen experience is so different to her own: “It’s reorienting, but I love it and I’ve always wanted this. So it was really interesting playing someone who didn’t love it and didn’t want it.” Carrie Mathison, the role Danes has played in Homeland for more than eight years, voluntarily signs over custody of her daughter in season four: “I was really glad to explore that, because I think it’s still a very stubborn taboo. Women are allowed a lot these days, relative to what they have been, but they’re still not quite allowed to not want to be mothers.” 

Speaking of another iconic role, Danes reminisces about the intensity of filming Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet when she was just 16: “It was so exciting to be a part of – I loved it. It was also really hard. We were filming in Mexico City, so it was a little raw. And the story kind of bled into life off-set, as it often does. There was a gang of dudes, young men – Romeo’s posse. It was an intense energy…”

Danes looks back fondly at her first major role as Angela Chase in My So-Called Life, which won the actor her first Golden Globe at the age of 14: “There was a lot of magic in that show. It was hard for me to know that at the time – it was my first big job.”

Danes grew up in SoHo, New York, in a downtown artists’ community near her old friend, designer Zac Posen: “Him, Lena Dunham, Gaby Hoffmann [both also friends], me – it’s not exactly a coincidence that we all ended up doing creative work.”

Despite this, Danes always felt ‘nerdy’ growing up: “I was weird. I’m not being cute – I was properly odd. I didn’t know how to hang out; I had to be applying myself all the time. I have never skipped a class in my life, my socks are always pulled way up to my knees. I’m supremely nerdy; I was never cool.”

It was this same trait that originally drew Danes to her husband Hugh Dancy: “Well, Hugh’s a big nerd, too. When we first started sorta-kinda-dating for real (ish), I had an ornament-making party for Christmas, and he helped organize it. Then he made an ornament of cowboy paper dolls, and I thought, ‘and he crafts?’ That was it. “You have me for the rest of our lives.” 

Danes is currently preparing to hang up Carrie’s trademark cross-body bag for the final time, as this forthcoming season of Homeland, its eighth, will be the last: “I’ll miss playing such a brilliant, intrepid, impulsive, flawed hero. She’s a pain in the ass, but she is always right in the end. She tends to prevail in her own perverse way.” 

Claire Danes wears dress by Jil Sander, coat by Loewe, watch by Jaeger-LeCoultre, earrings by Anita Ko, bracelet and necklace by Loren Stewart and rings by Sarah & Sebastian and Stvdio. Photographed by Yelena Yemchuk for for Porter. All items can be purchased straight from the magazine pages via NET-A-PORTER.COM.

The magnitude of having played the gutsy character for so long is not lost on the actress: “When I started Homeland, I was barely married, and now, we just had our ten-year anniversary and we have a seven-year-old and a toddler – WTF?”

For PORTER’s shoot, Danes was photographed by Yelena Yemchuk and styled by Lilli Millhiser. The shoot captures a quiet luxury, with Danes wearing pieces by The Row, Cartier, Khaite, Gabriela Hearst, Gucci, Balenciaga, Deveaux, Jaeger-LeCoultre and more. All items can be purchased straight from the shoot via the NET-A-PORTER app, available on Android as well as iPhone and iPad, and through net-a-porter.com.

Interview highlights:

Claire Danes on her husband Hugh Dancy, who plays a foreign-office advisor to the President in the final season of Homeland: “That was such a nice way to end the show. I didn’t have a single scene with him, but on my days off I would go to his set. He’s very good. I don’t exactly forget that, but we don’t talk about acting much, so it was a really nice reminder.” 

Claire Danes on watching your partner do something they are really good at: “is so hot”.  

Claire Danes on loving motherhood: “It’s reorienting, but I love it and I’ve always wanted this. So it was really interesting playing someone who didn’t love it and didn’t want it.”

Claire Danes on portraying motherhood as Carrie Mathison, and on the taboo of women not wanting to be mothers: “I was really glad to explore that, because I think it’s still a very stubborn taboo. Women are allowed a lot these days, relative to what they have been, but they’re still not quite allowed to not want to be mothers.” 

Claire Danes on the intensity of filming Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet when she was just 16: “It was so exciting to be a part of – I loved it. It was also really hard. We were filming in Mexico City, so it was a little raw. And the story kind of bled into life off-set, as it often does. There was a gang of dudes, young men – Romeo’s posse. It was an intense energy…”

Claire Danes on her first major role as Angela Chase in My So-Called Life, which won the actor her first Golden Globe at the age of 14: “There was a lot of magic in that show. It was hard for me to know that at the time – it was my first big job.”

Claire Danes on growing up in SoHo, New York, in a downtown artists’ community near her old friend, designer Zac Posen: “Him, Lena Dunham, Gaby Hoffmann [both also friends], me – it’s not exactly a coincidence that we all ended up doing creative work.”

Claire Danes on always feeling nerdy: “I was weird. I’m not being cute – I was properly odd. I didn’t know how to hang out; I had to be applying myself all the time. I have never skipped a class in my life, my socks are always pulled way up to my knees. I’m supremely nerdy; I was never cool.”

Claire Danes on sharing the nerdy trait with her husband: “Well, Hugh’s a big nerd, too. When we first started sorta-kinda-dating for real (ish), I had an ornament-making party for Christmas, and he helped organize it. Then he made an ornament of cowboy paper dolls, and I thought, ‘and he crafts?’ That was it. “You have me for the rest of our lives.” 

Claire Danes wears dress by Gucci, loafers by Khaite, watch by Jaeger-LeCoultre, earrings by Anita Ko, bracelet and necklace by Loren Stewart and rings Sarah & Sebastian and Stvdio. Photographed by Yelena Yemchuk for for Porter. All items can be purchased straight from the magazine pages via NET-A-PORTER.COM.

Claire Danes on making her family’s own Halloween costumes with her husband Hugh Dancy: “He papier-mâchéd his own hat – I’m very proud of my husband.”

Claire Danes on a long-distance relationship with her husband Hugh Dancy: “That was tough. That distance is corrosive, and I’m just bad at it. And I don’t particularly want to get good at it. We learned along the way how essential it is for us to be physically together as often as possible.” 

Claire Danes on how different her life is now to before she started filming Homeland: “When I started Homeland, I was barely married, and now, we just had our ten-year anniversary and we have a seven-year-old and a toddler – WTF?”

Claire Danes on how filming all over the world has affected her family: “We’ve been such citizens of the world. Both our sons learnt to crawl in Morocco [where much of Homeland has been filmed], and I have some amusing breast-pumping photos in Moroccan green rooms.”

Claire Danes on how she’ll miss Carrie Mathison, Homeland’s gifted, messy CIA savant, whom she has played for more than eight years: “I’ll miss playing such a brilliant, intrepid, impulsive, flawed hero. She’s a pain in the ass, but she is always right in the end. She tends to prevail in her own perverse way.” 

Claire Danes on how Carrie Mathison tested the audience: “She did heinous things, over and over again – we tested the audience’s sympathy all the time.”

Claire Danes on what she’d like from her next role: “I would like to play somebody who’s a little less of a superhero, somebody in a relationship, someone in a marriage. Carrie was so isolated, we used to joke that her cross-body bag was her best and only friend. It would be nice to play a regular old person now, more of an actual human.”   

Claire Danes on attending Yale to study psychology at 18 and taking a break from the acting industry: “It was really good for me to go to college, because I was a bit frightened of women. On film sets, I was always surrounded by adults, so the last time I’d spent any real time with other girls was in junior high, so they froze in my mind as these intimidating, cruel creatures. Then I went to college and discovered, ‘Oh, people grow out of that.’”

Claire Danes onturning 40 last year: “I always felt the age I am now, so it’s nice to catch up with my actual age,” she says. “It feels appropriate.”

To see the full interview, head to Porter or download the NET-A-PORTER app for iPhone, iPad and Android

In this Story: #icons / entertainment / #style