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!

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43 Responses

  1. Profile photo of Bob Lamm
    Bob Lamm

    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).

  2. Profile photo of east.west

    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.

  3. Profile photo of goyankees

    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’.

  4. Profile photo of Katiebug9624

    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.

  5. Profile photo of J Bernard Jones
    J Bernard Jones

    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.

  6. Profile photo of Ryan-Scott

    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.

  7. Profile photo of Regan Cellura
    Regan Cellura

    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.  

  8. Profile photo of Scott Novick
    Scott Novick

    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.

  9. Profile photo of SoCalLiasonite

     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.
  10. Profile photo of PinupWench79

    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.  

  11. Profile photo of nOva

    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.  

  12. Profile photo of jetty

    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.

  13. Profile photo of LovesDog

    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.

  14. Profile photo of Bob Lamm
    Bob Lamm

    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.

  15. Profile photo of J Bernard Jones
    J Bernard Jones

    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.

  16. Profile photo of Bob Lamm
    Bob Lamm

    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.

  17. Profile photo of snags

    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!

  18. Profile photo of troymcclure

    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.

  19. Profile photo of jsg03jd

    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. 

  20. Profile photo of LovesDog

    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.

  21. Profile photo of gato1

    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’..)

  22. Profile photo of Bob Lamm
    Bob Lamm

    Wow, Gato, you’re so right. I’m completely terrified of taking on your man. Just sitting here quivering. It’s really hard to type and hit the correct key.

  23. Profile photo of EduBois

     Does she seriously want us to believe that she had the sense at 12 to discern that soap operas give actors bad habits??  She must have been a genius, indeed.  No…I think it went something like this – you got offered a soap and your stage mother and you thought it wasn’t good enough for you – because you were destined for "greater" things.  Well, looking back on her career, I must say it hasn’t been that distinguished.  She’s still trying to leave behind  My So Called Life – So sorry, Claire Danes!  You have a well deserved reputation for being a sour puss and not a very nice person – continue making comments such as these!

  24. Profile photo of soapster

    Do we even know what bad habits she is talking about before we stone her to death and all these A-list stars that were on soaps didn’t stay to long maybe it was because they didn’t want to develop bad habits themselves. 

    Maybe the speed in which they tape is one of those bad habits for most major movie star stress the amount of research they put into getting in character for roles.  Maybe one of the bad habits is playing the same type of character for an extended amount of time. 

    And just for the record yes you can pick up bad habits working on soap operas same as you can pick up bad habits working on a primetime show or cable show. 

  25. Profile photo of shackfan

    Could someone please tell me what block buster movie she had been in. Or what popular TV show. And don’t day My so Called Life. Because that was on MTV . I  wonder what bad habits she is talking about. I remember Vivica Fox saying she thanks soaps for her being so prepare in movie land.

  26. Profile photo of appleridge

    Claire is selling a movie and was aked about her past BUT I HATE when actors who have never done daytime drama put it down

    Walk a mile in their shoes first Claire

    J Bernard Love Ya man and your brutal honesty

  27. Profile photo of J Bernard Jones
    J Bernard Jones

    Bob and LovesDog,

    I might have been "harsh" as you put it, but I asked you to back up and/or explain and/or defend your position. I didn’t attack your characters or your motives. That my "tone" put you off isn’t my concern; if you want to take it "personally", so be it.

    As for the arguments you presented, it’s also on you (both) to have not refuted what I rebutted or defended what you asserted and instead decided to make it about "Big Bad J. Bernard."

    That says it all as far I’m concerned.

  28. Profile photo of dellygrim

    I have greatly enjoyed much of Danes’ work.  I’m a sucker for Angela Chase.  She’s stirred up things before by opening her mouth and spouting ignorant statements.  I think she probably does believe what she said about soaps and I think she’s foolish for doing so.  But I don’t really care what she says.  There’s tonnes of people I like way more than her who have said far worse. 

    I also enjoy JBernard’s posts and participation in the podcasts and agree with his initial post on this topic.  However I would also feel a bit personally attacked if someone were to suggest that I was making "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."  I would feel like my character and motives were being cast in an unfavourable light.  But I can be sensitive and easily stimied.

  29. Profile photo of GHvetfan

    How likely is it that Claire Danes was even responsible for her choices at age 12? 

    I liked My So Called Life so I am glad she never did the soap. If she had, perhaps she never would have made So-Called Life.  It doesn’t matter to me if she hates on soaps.  I like a few soaps and she doesn’t.  I can live with that.

  30. Profile photo of marceline

    So Claire Danes dares to speak about soaps in something other than hushed reverent tones and we’re supposed to grab our pitchforks and torches and chase her through the streets? When did soap fans get so desperately precious? All she did was speak about decisions she made about her career. She didn’t criticize any particular show or actor. Are soaps a form of entertainment or a cult?

  31. Profile photo of YRanger

    [quote=sassysdreams]Claire who?  Who cares!

    right on the money…i dont know who she is or what show she’s been on…but when u are on a soap, you built a diehard fanbase that will follow you everywhere….too bad she will never have that….

    but hey whatever……who care about clare who????

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