15-year-old Claire Danes on getting famous: 'I just want to be a sane person'

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15-Year-Old Claire Danes On Getting Famous: 'I Just Want to Be a Sane Person'


While we're waiting for Homeland's fourth season to wrap, let's rewind to a simpler time, back when Claire Danes was a smiling teenager ... on rollerblades?

Yep, in this 1994 footage from the ET archives, a 15-year-old Danes is seen blading on the Venice Beach boardwalk and musing about newfound fame being just around the corner.

"It's a little frightening, but I don't want to be afraid of it," Danes said at the time.

Keep in mind that at this point in her career, the actress wasn't actually all that famous; she had spent just a few short weeks in the public eye as Angela Chase, the teen lead of My So-Called Life. (Before the ABC family drama from the producers of thirtysomething came along, her TV experience included little more than a Law & Order guest spot, pretty much a prerequisite for every actor.)

"I do feel a little powerless right now," she told ET. "I think you can become dependent on fame and be as known as you want to be, you know?"

Danes had also just begun promoting her first film, Little Women, in which she played sweet, tragic sister Beth alongside Winona Ryder, Kirsten Dunst, Christian Bale and Susan Sarandon and other well-known stars.

"I've done a whole bunch of interviews," she said, "and finally I'm getting the magazines back and seeing what they write. Often it's one step removed and a little affected and -- they'll say things I didn't really mean to say."

PHOTOS: Claire Danes' Stunning Red Carpet Looks Through the Years

Though her novelty T-shirt and occasional mannerism reflect her age in this video -- check out the facial contortions -- Danes is still poised and articulate, a particularly notable feat given the cheesy set-up for the shoot, in which she and several MSCL co-stars approach strangers on the boardwalk to encourage them to tune in.

Then again, Danes has always seemed wise beyond her years. After My So-Called Life's 19-episode run and a handful of movie roles (including Romeo + Juliet opposite Leo DiCaprio), she enrolled at Yale University to study psychology. She returned to acting in 2002, but it wasn't until winning a pile of awards for HBO's Temple Grandin in 2010 that her comeback was firmly set.

In the two decades since this interview was shot, Danes, now 35, has appeared in more than 20 movies and won three Emmys and four Golden Globes. (This year alone, she received Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nods for her work on Homeland.) She married actor Hugh Dancy in 2009, and the couple welcomed a son in 2012.

FLASHBACK: Claire Danes Wins Golden Globe in 1995

My So-Called Life continues to be a mainstay on nearly every "best of TV" list and usually gets mentioned alongside Twin Peaks and Freaks and Geeks in roundups of shows canceled too soon. "Claire can be awkward and graceful and beautiful and not so beautiful and tortured and calm," My So-Called Life creator Winnie Holzman said in 2013. "We have all that roiling inside of us, but we are so often typed or labeled."

In 1995, as she gracefully faced a Golden Globes press room with after beating out Angela Lansbury and Jane Seymour for best TV drama actress, she said diplomatically, "It's very confusing to figure out how to market [the show]. It's pretty fragile."

Danes' former MSCL cast mates have done pretty well for themselves: This year Jared Leto, aka Jordan Catalano, won the Oscar for his supporting role in Dallas Buyers Club. Wilson Cruz, who played Rickie, had a recurring role on Fox's Red Band Society and serves as a national spokesperson for GLAAD. Jeff Perry (teacher Mr. Katimski) portrays conniving White House Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene on ABC's Scandal.

Last year, when she talked with Vogue about acting, Danes got very philosophical-and metaphorical-about her career. "You just hold out for those rare moments when you feel a real fusion with this imagined person," she told the magazine. "It's really like surfing. You get that wave and think, All right, I can be in freezing-cold water at 5 a.m. in the hopes that I will get one. And maybe you get three of those a year."

"I just want to be a sane person," she said to ET in 1994. "I wanna be a person who has a life and who acts."

But, she added, "I don't want to be an actress. I want to be doing good work that is well written and has good people in it. I want to be learning. I want to be getting a good education. Somehow, I want to be able to manage all of that. I want to have a good balance of things."

Then she looked down, as if in classic Angela Chase fashion she realized she was rambling. "Um, it's a lot," she acknowledged. "It's a lot, but I'll figure it out."

Homeland's season finale airs Dec. 21 on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET. The network has already renewed it for a fifth season.

Whitney Matheson is a journalist and pop-culture critic who founded USA Today's award-winning blog Pop Candy. Follow her on Twitter @whitneymatheson.

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Claire Danes Through the Years
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15-year-old Claire Danes on getting famous: 'I just want to be a sane person'
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0118 -- Pictured: Actress Claire Danes on September 5, 2014 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Claire Danes arrives at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: 66th ANNUAL PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS -- Pictured: Actress Claire Danes arrives to the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Nokia Theater on August 25, 2014. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/NBC/NBC via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: Hugh Dancy and Claire Danes attend BAFTA New York Presents: 'In Conversation With Hugh Dancy' at The Standard Highline on May 15, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 11: Actress Claire Danes attends the Born Free Africa Mother's Day Family Carnival at Hudson River Park Pier 45 on May 11, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Claire Danes attends Narciso Rodriguez Bottletop Collection Pepsi U.S. Launch at Sikkema Jenkins And Co. Gallery on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Claire Danes attends the 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25: Actress Claire Danes attends Variety's Power of Women: New York at Cipriani 42nd Street on April 25, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 19: Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy arrives at the 25th Annual Producers Guild Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 19, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 19: Claire Danes arrives at the 25th Annual Producers Guild Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 19, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 18: Actress Claire Danes arrives at the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 18: Actress Claire Danes attends 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/WireImage)
OSLO, NORWAY - DECEMBER 11: Host Claire Danes on stage during the 20th annual Nobel Peace Prize Concert at the Oslo Spektrum on December 11, 2013 in Oslo, Norway. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Nobel Peace Prize Concert)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14: Actress Claire Danes is seen on November 14, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by DVT/Star Max/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Winner for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Claire Danes accepts her award onstage during the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA- SEPTEMBER 22: Actors Hugh Dancy (L) and Claire Danes arrive at the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: Actress Claire Danes poses in the press room at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 23, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Dan MacMedan/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: Claire Danes poses at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 23, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 13: Claire Danes attends the AFI Awards 2011 at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on January 13, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 07: Claire Danes attends the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum Launch party at the IAC Headquarters on December 7, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 13: 70th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS -- Pictured: (L-R) Actors Hugh Dancy and Claire Danes arrive to the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 13, 2013. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/NBC/NBC via Getty Images)
69th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS -- Pictured: Claire Danes arrives at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 15, 2012 -- Photo by: Vince Bucci/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
Actress Claire Danes arrives for American Express Gala Screening of 'The King's Speech' during the 54th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon Leicester Square on October 21, 2010 in London, England.
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 23: Actress Claire Danes attend The Cinema Society with Screenvision & Brooks Brothers screening of 'Me And Orson Welles' at Clearview Chelsea Cinemas on November 23, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Von Holden/WireImage)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 11: Actress Claire Danes attends the Zac Posen Spring 2009 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at The Tent, Bryant Park on September 11, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for IMG)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 07: Actress Claire Danes attends the Calvin Klein Inc. 40th Anniversary Celebration at Along The Highline on September 7, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/WireImage for Calvin Klein Inc.)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 09: Actress Claire Danes and designer Narciso Rodriguez pose at the Narciso Rodriguez Spring 2009 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week on September 9, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for IMG)
Claire Danes attends The Glamour Magazine 2007 Women of The Year Awards at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall on November 5, 2007 in New York, City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 21: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME. MANDATORY CREDIT PHOTO BY DAVE M. BENETT/GETTY IMAGES REQUIRED) Claire Danes poses in the awards room during the The Orange British Academy Film Awards 2010, at The Royal Opera House on February 21, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 05: Actress Claire Danes attends The Glamour Magazine 2007 Women of The Year Awards at Lincoln Center's Avery Hall on November 5, 2007 in New York, City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
Claire Danes during Los Angeles Free Clinic Annual Dinner Gala Honoring Paramount Pictures Corporation Chairman and CEO Brad Grey - Red Carpet at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Califronia, United States. (Photo by J.Sciulli/WireImage)
Claire Danes during The Friends Of The LA Free Clinic Annual Dinner Gala at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Claire Danes at the Capitale in New York City, New York (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/WireImage)
Claire Danes during Claire Danes Visits the Late Show with David Letterman - November 23, 2005 at Ed Sullivan Theatre in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
Claire Danes (Photo by Ferdaus Shamim/WireImage)
Claire Danes during The 19th Annual American Cinematheque Award Honoring Steve Martin - Inside and Show at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage)
Claire Danes during Stage Beauty New York Premiere - Outside Arrivals at Paris Theater in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 21: Actress Claire Danes attends the premiere of 'A Dirty Shame' on September 21, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
Claire Danes during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2004 - Zac Posen - Front Row and Backstage at Bryant Park in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 13: (U.S. TABS AND HOLLYWOOD REPORTER OUT) Actress Claire Danes (wearing Lanvin) attends the National Board Of Review Of Motion Pictures 2003 Annual Awards Gala at Tavern on the Green January 13, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 18: Claire Danes attending the Los Angeles premiere of 'The Hours' at Mann's National Theatre in Westwood, CA 12/18/02 (Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images)
Claire Danes during 'The Hours' Premiere - Los Angeles at Mann's National Theatre in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY - OCTOBER 30: Actress Claire Danes attends the Gen Art's Seventh Annual 'Fresh Faces in Fashion' Show on October 30, 2001 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY - FEBRUARY 10: Actress Claire Danes attends the 'V-Day 2001' -'The Vagina Monolgues' Benefit Performance on February 10, 2001 at Manhattan Center in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
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