Claire Danes is one of the few actresses who appears to make careful,
calculated choices when it comes to accepting roles for film and television. And so, it stands to reason that Danes’ strong female roles leave bold impressions in our minds: Shakespeare’s Juliet, as Angela Chase in My So-Called Life, and portraying the autistic professor, Temple Grandin.
You’d be remiss to find Danes in a campy situation-comedy or an equally silly summer romantic comedy. Danes takes chances with roles, despite uncertainties or reservations she may have. She auditioned for Clint Eastwood’s 2011 biopic, J. Edgar Hoover, and told Vogue, “I was like, ‘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.’ I was scared of it, and I thought, ‘OK, right, that means I have to do it.” Her current role as Carrie Mathison in the Showtime series, Homeland is and has been her most impactful part to date.
The character of Carrie Mathison is more complex than most current female roles. Carrie is astute and sharp-witted, more often than not out-thinks her male counterparts in the (fictional) CIA, but there’s a glitch in her brilliance: she struggles with bipolar disorder, a condition which threatens to invalidate her often spot-on suspicions. Danes plays the role with zero inhibition, no reservations. She is unafraid to lose herself in performance, to look less-than-glamorous while crying and quaking on-camera. She emits a juxtaposing vulnerability and confidence. Her performance is visceral, almost tactile.
While Claire Danes appears to have a stronghold on her career, she too endures the same challenges of the modern working woman, juggling job and family as many of us do. At the 2012 Golden Globes, she bounced from the ballroom up to her hotel room to nurse her then-newborn son, came back down to the ceremony again, and won the award for Best Actress in a TV series for her role on Homeland.
It’s no secret I’m counting the days until the long-awaited third season premieres in just a little over a week. I am compelled by the complexity of Danes’ characters, and particularly invested in her ongoing performance on Homeland. I’m intrigued to see how Danes’ Carrie develops, how her disease progresses, if her relationships will be her saving grace or her final undoing.
Do you watch Homeland? Do you like how Danes plays the role of Carrie?
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