The life of an actor isn’t an easy one. The career choice can be grueling, filled with constant auditions, plenty of rejection, and accepting uninspiring parts to make ends meet. This grind wears down many aspiring thespians, causing them to throw in the acting towel. Claire Danes almost found herself in this position, though not because of the strain of trying to make it, but because there weren’t “any roles which weren’t ‘the girl.’”
Danes broke onto the scene as Angela Chase in the short-lived prime-time soap My So-Called Life. She soon made the move to the big screen, getting her break in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio. After playing one half of the most famous star-crossed couple, Danes became a teen sensation at the young age of 17. Unlike many other young stars, she managed career and personal life well, attending Yale and continuing to find work. After the success of the made-for-HBO film Temple Grandin in 2010, in which she played the renowned autism activist, Danes found herself in a slump. In the latest issue of Vogue, she says she even considered leaving the profession: “And a point came where I thought, I really like interior design. Someone suggested, ‘Maybe your real success is in your personal life.’” The frustration came from the fact that after she “auditioned for the role of secretary to Leonardo DiCaprio’s J. Edgar Hoover in Clint Eastwood’s 2011 biopic,” she asked herself: “Do I want to play the secretary to the boss man or do I want to be the boss man? I want to be the boss man.”
The realization led her to take the part of Carrie on Homeland, a resilient female character in a position of authority: “the boss man.” Though she was worried about playing a “toxic person for that long,” the challenge was clearly worth it. Danes has won back-to-back Golden Globes for her performance in the role and has seen her career reinvigorated—and not just as “the girl,” but as a strong woman.