Before Claire Danes (Homeland) was famous, she was famous (My So-Called Life). But in-between there was a long period where nothing happened with her career. She was in non-event movie after non-event movie. Some of them (Igby Goes Down) were very good, and should be better-known. Some of them (The Mod Squad) are probably not her favorite topics for dinner conversation.
It seems incredible to know when we see a famous person, someone we’re used to watching on the red carpet or emerging from stretch limos, that so much of their life has been spent hearing rejection, getting hung up on, being told they weren’t good enough or weren’t good at all. That’s because Entertainment Tonight and TMZ don’t profile these types of moments. They remain invisible, not part of the legend.
But any career in the arts—well, any career in anything, really—entails a lot of rejection. Since my novel Entertaining Welsey Shaw is now making the rounds among literary agents, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Unless your name is Kardashian you don’t have a guaranteed built-in audience for your project. And maybe someday God will reawaken from his slumber, and even the Kardashians will lose their luster. Or even be smited.
Here’s an interesting clip from when Claire was “in between” fames, somewhere after My So-Called Life and Romeo+Juliet, somewhere before Homeland. She talks about rejection and how she copes with it. Knowing a famous star has to deal with the same kicks in the teeth as you—except she’s probably had to deal with many more—puts things in perspective just a bit.
For Claire things got so bad that for a while she actually had to shill for house paint and do commercials for eyelash enhancements. And now she’s got more award bling than she can count, thanks to her Showtime series and the HBO movie Temple Grandin. But Claire is smart and aware, and I’m sure she knows some day she may hear—likely will hear—phones hang up again. I once knew a television news producer, himself a winner of more than a couple Emmys, who said to me, “I’m only as good as my last newscast.” Substitute movie or TV show and you could be describing many stars in Hollywood.
It’s not necessarily an easy life, despite how glamorous it looks from the outside. Perhaps that’s why Welsey Shaw quit the biz.