It’s adorable, really. A cherubic 15-year-old Claire Danes rollerblading around Venice Beach promoting her brand new TV show, My So-Called Life.
Entertainment Tonight dug the video out of their vaults for the 20th anniversary of that short-lived show that nonetheless refuses to die. It probably has more fans now than it did when it ran on ABC.
Claire Danes had was not yet the “it” girl she’d soon become. In fact, this was her first regular acting gig. Rumor has it several years earlier she turned down the role of the little girl in the red dress in Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, because she felt she’d just be a “glorified extra.” I love to think this story is true because if it is it shows just how focused Claire was even as a little kid. She wasn’t interested in stardom. She wanted to be an actress.
Even back in 1994 she seemed to already be aware of the hazards of fame. “I just want to be a sane person,” she says. (Interestingly, she sure has played more than her share of people who are quite psychologically strung out.)
Even as a teen, Claire had a grown-up’s list of aspirations that are quite impressive:
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.
Clearly not your average 15-year-old. Even then, Claire Danes was remarkable.
There used to be a Charlie Rose clip on YouTube of a college-aged Claire Danes where she spoke about growing up different and loneliness and all sorts of other things in a way you wouldn’t expect from a college freshman. Unfortunately it’s gone now, but it illustrated how deeply she thought about things even then. And how she was aware she was “different.”
This is something Welsey Shaw knows well. She too is aware she is different. She too feels loneliness and emptiness often, though she can’t quite pin down the reason why.
Not that Welsey is Claire. Welsey is a smashup of many people, and part imagination. Certainly I don’t know of any star as tart-mouthed as my heroine (in a witty sort of way).
But it’s nice to know Welsey has a basis in reality, in actresses who are still with us today, at the top of their game, searching, finding, creating.
Angela Chase would be impressed.