Behold, a thesis in two parts:   

Point the first – the physical.

Danes and I are of a similar age.  But…flatter myself, sure...I think she looks SO much older than me.   Part of that can be attributed to the razor-thin demands that we know in Hollywood – the body-or-face choice comes early.  But she doesn’t look drawn and tired, exactly – she looks tight and shiny.   Could she stop doing whatever it is she’s doing to her face and live to tell the tale?  Of course she could.  Claire, stop   Stop trying to bring back Angela Chase’s perfect, puckered brow and just be you, now, today.  Yes?

Point the second – the Meta.

I asked tonight when it was that Claire Danes got to be so unhappy-seeming.  She looks ...not pissed off, but anxious all the time.  Never at full relaxation.  I mean, girl has the kind of career anyone would be thrilled with – critically acclaimed, great films mixed with the ‘right’ kind of TV.   

So what’s the problem?  Everyone has an idea.  The marriage.  The career slowdown in the late ‘00s.   Maybe even a case of ‘I don’t know who I am exactly’?   Something has made her tough and hard, and yes, the obvious answer here is Billy Crudup (and it’s worth noting that Mary Louise Parker does have some of Danes’ same brittle traits) but who knows?  She seems to be atoning, internally, for some long gone sins.  Or holding herself in check reallysupertightly so that she doesn’t make some sort of mistake again.  There’s very little freedom about her – as a person, if not as a performer.

But I don’t know what the dire rigidity is all about.  You’re 32!  You have so much time to change and adjust what’s bothering you and what you don’t like or what you think you should have achieved by now.   You’re not all used up!  Have a little optimism!

She might just be a self-flagellator.  I listened to her talking about how she forgot to thank her parents when she won at 15, and my heart broke a little.  Because she’s been carrying that around for 17 years.   More than half her life!  Girl could stand to give herself a real break.  And I get the feeling she really doesn’t, often.  

I sound like someone’s mother.  But it’s worth remembering that whatever’s gone before – even if it was last week – is old news.  Never has a woman with such a built-in fanbase been so disquieted.  And none of the usual successes seem to have penetrated her wall of anxiety.  And I really would like to see her smile.

Now I sound like a construction worker.  Fantastic.

(Lainey - what’s interesting about the wound up tight-ness of Danes is how she behaves when she’s had a little help relaxing. Last year, on the Temple Grandin award circuit, I hear she was out of control after a few drinks. Like messy. We all have a friend like that right? PS. There was nothing smutty about why Hugh Dancy wasn’t with her at the Globes. He had an important family event.)