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Before she was happily married to Hugh Dancy, with whom she shares a beautiful child, Claire Danes was in another, widely discussed relationship.

It was over a decade ago that Danes became involved with her Stage Beauty co-star Billy Crudup. He dumped his longtime girlfriend, seven-months-pregnant Mary-Louise Parker for her, and the two stayed in a relationship for three years. Danes has never really talked about it — until now. Leave it to Howard Stern to ask the tough questions.

Lions Gate

“That was a scary thing,” Danes said when asked about being judged by the public. “That was really hard. I didn’t know how to not do that. I just was in love with him and needed to explore that.”

Danes chalks up the experience to age: “I was 24… I didn’t quite know what those consequences might be. You never know. But it’s OK… I went through it.”

Some might argue that it was probably scarier and harder for Parker, but we can see where Danes is coming from. You don’t choose who you fall in love with, and at 24, perhaps she was too naive to comprehend the kind of backlash that could’ve happened. (But didn’t. To Danes, anyway. It was Crudup whose public profile never really recovered.)

But it’s all good now. Claire told Howard that she and Billy are still “friendly,” still “friends.” And that’s as scandalous as it gets with Danes. She told Stern that she and Jared Leto never hooked up during their short time together on My So-Called Life because he is seven years older than her and she was just a teenager when that filmed. Good call.

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And remember the chemistry she and Leonardo DiCaprio had in Romeo + Juliet? A year later she was offered the role of Rose to Leo’s Jack in Titanic but she turned it down because “it seemed redundant.” We — and Kate Winslet — thank you.

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