Claire Danes Rejected Soap Offer in Fear of "Developing Bad Habits"





Film and TV actress Claire Danes is making the media rounds in support of her HBO Films project Temple Grandin. In a recent interview with The New York Times, Danes reveals that at the age of 12, her first offer in the entertainment industry was for a role on a soap opera. She explains why she turned it down saying,

“I was 12 when my first job offer was to be on a soap opera,” she said. “I turned it down because I didn’t want to develop bad habits.”

I wonder if Demi Moore, Meg Ryan, Academy Award nominees Morgan Freeman and Julianne Moore, or Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones feel they developed "bad habits" from their stints in daytime? In fact, I've always read and heard the opposite. Most soap alums-turned-A-listers give soap operas plenty of credit for the speed at which they tape and the amount of pages the actors are required to memorize. I'd say for any actor those are pretty good habits to develop!

Photo by PR Photos


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Ryan-Scott's picture
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What the hell is that supposed to mean?

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It would be easy for any actor to develop bad habits from working with the mediocre material that is too often provided by soap writers (thanks in part to interference from the networks and from Procter & Gamble).

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I hate when ppl knock the soaps, but I can't be too mad at Claire b/c she was fantastic as Angela on My So Called Life and this movie she's promoting is getting her rave reviews.

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Hmmm. She grew up in NYC, correct? ......(Was AMC this bad in the early 90's? BAA!)

Ah, I wouldn't let that comment bother us. Too bad she thought a Soap was beneath her...... she lived one when she stole Billy Crudup from a preggo Mary Louise Parker.....homewreckers should reallyl be a bit more humble.

Just sayin'.

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Someone   is  really smelling herself  isn`t  she.

sassysdreams's picture
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Claire who?  Who cares!

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I would of considered My So Called Life a soap but well its not like Claire is a "top actress" she's good but not what I would consider great...now Julianne Moore is great and wow she's from a soap.

J Bernard Jones's picture
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So  Bob, do you even KNOW what you are saying in an effort to get in a popular but misguided dig at the state of soap operas?

Are you saying that soaps were just as "bad" when Claire Danes was twelve years old (1991) as they supposedly are now?

Do you even know what soap Danes was offered or are you content to simply willy nilly make a connection that presumes that the soap in question at that time was being interfered to its detriment  by the network on which it aired and/or Proctor & Gamble?

And what of Ms. Danes' main co-star in the movie she's now promoting, Temple Grandin? David Strathairn was on Another World, a Proctor & Gamble show. Did that gig imbue him — one of the most respected and talented actors working today — with bad habits?

And what about her co-star in Baz Lurman's Romeo + Juliet, the film which gave Danes her first big theatrical break? Leonardo DiCaprio was on Santa Barbara. Did that experience corrupt the habits of one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation?

Never mind the examples of the fine actors stated in the story above, or the hundreds of Emmy, Oscar, and Tony award nominees and winners who have come through soaps and currently act in them. What burns my ass is not when I hear some actor or actress denigrate soaps, including the ones who wouldn't have a career without As the World Turns, Days of Our Lives or One Life to Live.

What I find offensive is when someone who is presumably a fan make these cheap, unsubstantiated  shots just for the sake of making them because it makes them sound like they know what they are talking about when clearly they do not.

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Yeah, cause there was so much artistic merit in The Family Stone.

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Oh Snap!

Ryan-Scott's picture
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Yeah...exactly....Clare who?

Everytime I have seen her in something she has no energy.
Maybe if she "picked up a bad habit" she'd have more zip in her performances.

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I stand by the age old rule, don't knock it til you've tried it. She turned it down, which was within her right, but to say it was because she didn't want to develop bad habits is plain old ridiculous.  

Scott Novick's picture
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Attitudes like Ms. Danes' here only serve to create and advance the negative image of soaps that actors like her, and even a large segment of the general population, carry in their minds. Like Regan said, there are hundreds of big name actors who proudly acted in daytime, and many of them swear by the so called "bad habits" Danes wants to avoid. Look at all the prime time actors who have come to daytime and become amazed by how their daytime peers master pages of script that's larger than anything a prime time or movie actor will be called to work from. And they do it hundreds of times a year, as opposed to the 22 episodes a year a prime time actor will do, or the single script a movie actor will spend weeks or months doing.

Maybe some day, Ms. Danes might find her Hollywood career waning, and a soap role then might be very appealing. It would be ironic if she did and the producer or casting director, having read her comments now, decided to pass on her.

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I thought she quit acting and went to school. The last time I heard anything about her was when the mob squad movie bombed.

SoCalLiasonite's picture
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 I'm with you goyankees !!  TOO Funny!
 

Too bad she thought a Soap was beneath her...... she lived one when she stole Billy Crudup from a preggo Mary Louise Parker.....homewreckers should reallyl be a bit more humble.

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Bad habits can be picked up regardless of whether an actor chooses film, theater, or tv (which does include soaps).  Some of the most respected actors and actresses in film and television got their big break on soap operas.  Like everything else in life, bad habits happen because a person chooses to have them.  Not because the industry told them too.  

nOva's picture
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Yeh, I don't see the point in taking offense to this. There's no context or clarification in the Times article itself. She could mean any number of things but the interviewer never asked her to delineate her statement.  

jetty's picture
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She was wonderful in My So-Called Life and in several movies, but she's also been equally bad in a lot of movies. She's one of those performers who needs a director with a firm had to shape a performance out of her. I don't think she's able to create a character that's different than herself with a lot of work.

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Claire Danes is absolutely right. Soap actors do develop terrible acting habits and they become lazy from the bad writing. She is a talented actress who is building a good career so she obviously made the right choice.  Taking offense at her words is small minded and silly.

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Wow, J. Bernard. A little defensive, aren't we? 

Just for the record, I've watched daytime soaps since I got hooked on THE DOCTORS in the early 1970s. I watched soaps in 1991. I watch soaps today.

I stand by my comment. The writing of soaps is overwhelmingly mediocre and always has been. There are some brilliant actors on soaps and some awful ones.

But I'll admit, J. Bernard, since I disagree with you, I couldn't possibly know what I'm talking about. My 40 years of soap watching mean nothing. Obviously I shouldn't be allowed to have an opinion that you don't approve of.

J Bernard Jones's picture
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Well, Bob (and for that matter, LovesDog), I don't see where you have specifically rebutted anything I've said or any examples I used other than some broad generalization about how long you've watched soaps. Calling my response "defensive" doesn't prove your point other than to make a passive aggressive swipe. I attacked your argument — not you — and I would be appreciative if you would extend the same courtesy.

To that end, I've been watching soaps since the 70's, too. So either that makes us even or it makes one of us wrong, huh? Which?

Yes, there are bad soap actors and some soap actors do develop bad habits. Yet you BOTH seem content to paint all soap actors with the same broad brush, underscoring Ms. Dane's comment.

So, instruct me here, because I could be very well wrong based on your unsupported opinion and I would like you to take the time to school me:

1. We have a handful of actors who are still airing today who started on their shows long before, up until the time and shortly after we started watching soaps who have had to deal with this wholesale mediocre writing you cite: Erika Sleak, Susan Lucci, Helen Wagner, Kathyrn Hayes, Elizabeth Hubbard, Bob Hastings, Eileen Fulton, Jeanne Cooper, among others. Would either one of you care to elaborate on which of or how these actors display their bad habits on screen day & and out, regardless of writing regimes, production teams, or whichever daytime executive occupies the top chair?

2. "The writing of soaps is overwhelmingly mediocre and always has been. " Would you care to elaborate on that? In what way? Are there exceptions to this "rule"? Time periods or eras? How are you defining "mediocre"? Within the genre, compared to other genres (sci fi, westerns, situation comedies), or compared to Ibsen, Wilson, Hansberry, Joyce & Shakespeare?

3. A specific point of modernity in the profession of soap opera acting: do you consider Jonathan Jackson's recent turn as Lucky Spencer when he confronted Elizabeth & Nikolas to be a product of "bad habits"? A fluke? An exception to the rule? Just as "bad" as everyone else? I'd be interested to know.

As for us having differing opinions, let it be that. But have the courage of your convictions instead of attempting to be snide without backing them up with examples and facts.

cheryl85's picture
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So I guess "My So-Called Life" wasn't a soap opera in her eyes.  But hey it's her opinion.

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I'm not going to waste much more time here, J. Bernard, because you obviously don't and won't take responsibility for harsh, disrespectful words of yours directed at me in your first post. You didn't just attack "my argument." You attacked me. Get serious.

I've said that there are brilliant actors on soaps. Jonathan Jackson's recent work has been superb. As was his work as Lucky Spencer when he was much younger.

These are my last words to you, J. Bernard.

dqh257's picture
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While My So-Called Life was a great show, Ms. Danes has done some crap in her career.... Brokedown Palace anyone?

myworld's picture
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Well let us not forget she got bad habbits all her own. Please!!!!!!! She is not that good at all!

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I LOVED "My So-Called Life"! They filmed at my high school so I loved her and loved the show.  There were some painful moments while she was on the show too even though I loved the show.  It spoke to me then as a teen.  LOVED it! While I've been a fan of hers, I would have to say she has had some stinkers in her career so I wouldn't turn my nose at soaps.  Yes, there are some stinkers in the genre (Charity Rahmer/Belle Black on Days for 2 seconds), but there are some awesome actors with soaps on their resume.  And because I LOVE Morgan Freeman, I have to add Regan that he won an Oscar for "Million Dollar Baby" (a favorite movie of mine).  I still love you Regan but I have to give my Morgan credit for what he did!

troymcclure's picture
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Pfft. She stole Billy Crudup from a 7 months pregnant Marie Louise Parker and she did the Mod Squad.  Don't knock it unitl you try it.

Makes me appreciate and respect James Franco so much more who said that he got the lead role in Danny Boyle's new movie, in part  thanks to GH where helearned to memorize lots of dialogue in a short time.

jsg03jd's picture
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14 February 2008
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Claire Danes is such a BROKEDOWN PALACE waste of space.  She's not exactly Meryl Streep so I don't believe she's in any position to criticize any performance medium. 

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23 March 2009
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The comments attacking Claire Dane's work are pathetic and show that none of you have even watched her movies.  She is very talented. She is wonderful in the Shopgirl with Steve Martin. Attacking her personal life and a few bad movies does NOT change the fact that she is right.

J. Bernard Jones, I've always respected your posts. You have always seemed more insightful about the soaps.. I am really surprised at your unneccessarily harsh attack on Bob because he has a different opinion to yours. Maybe you do it all the time and I haven't seen it before. Goes to show you never know with people.

gato1's picture
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29 October 2009
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Good idea Mr. Lamm, I wouldn't take on J. Bernard unless I knew exactlly what I was talking about!  Or if I wasn't able to back it up! My man does know his stuff and does not play. (just sayin'..)