Claire Danes, Billy Cudrup Affair: Actress Comes Clean On Billy Leaving Pregnant Mary-Louise Parker For Her: ‘I Was Just In Love With Him’

Claire Danes snagged an incredibly potent career revival when she first started playing the volatile CIA agent Carrie Mathison on Homeland in 2011. After rocketing to ’90s teen star fame with breakout roles in My So-Called Life and Romeo and Juliet, the actress came under considerable public scrutiny in 2003 when actor Billy Cudrup left his pregnant girlfriend of seven years, Mary-Louise Parker, allegedly in order to a pursue a relationship with Danes.

Though it’s impossible to measure the exact impact of the scandal on Danes’ career, it’s notable that even more than a decade later, her relationship with Billy Cudrup still comes up in interviews. Most recently, the affair reared its head when Claire Danes sat down with The Howard Stern Show on Monday. The host questioned Danes, who was 24 at the time, about how she felt about the whole Cudrup affair in retrospect.

“That was a scary thing. That was really hard. I didn’t know how to not do that. I was just in love with him and needed to explore that, and I was 24… I didn’t quite know what those consequences would be…. But it’s O.K…. I went through it.”

TORONTO - SEPTEMBER 15: (L-R) Actors Billy Crudup, Tom Wilkinson and Claire Danes attend the "Stealing Beauty" gala screening at Roy Thomson Hall during the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival on September 15, 2004 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
Billy Crudup, Tom Wilkinson and Claire Danes attend the Stage Beauty gala screening in 2004 (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

While it’s clear that everything is “OK” for Claire Danes now, that couldn’t have been further from the case when the controversy was first stirred up in 2003. After Billy Cudrup left Marie-Louise Parker, tabloids went wild speculating about another woman. Though Cudrup denied that Danes was a factor in his decision to leave Parker, more recent admissions from the involved parties seem to indicate otherwise. Danes and Cudrup first worked together in 2000 as voice actors on the classic Hayao Miyazaki anime film, Princess Mononoke. Three years later, and just before Cudrup split from Parker, they starred opposite one another in Stage Beauty, reported Complex.

Billy Crudup and Mary Louise Parker arrive for the 56th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall, New York City. June 2, 2002. Photo by Scott Gries/ImageDirect
Billy Crudup and Mary Louise Parker at the 56th Annual Tony Awards in 2002. [Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images]
Aside from dredging up the whole Billy and Mary-Louise drama from the past, the host also wanted to know where Danes saw her career heading now that Homeland has made her a big player again. Claire, known for her high-emotion dramatic roles, surprised the host when she said she is actually most inspired by comedians like Amy Schumer and Louis C.K. right now; and, she would even consider breaking her “no nudity” clause in order to work with them.

“This current wave of comedians I think are particularly inspiring… I would love to do a comedy. They’re exciting me more than anyone else in the culture right now… [even if they approached me with nudity] I would do it.”

Some of Homeland‘s younger audience, however, probably do not even remember Cudrup and Danes as a couple. The pair split in 2006, and since then have continued with other relationships. Instead, the focus on Danes has shifted back to her work, on a series she told Howard Stern she has no plans to abandon any time soon.

“One, I have to: I’m contractually obligated to do seven season. But, no, even it wasn’t how it works… I love these people so much that I’ve been working with, and we’ve been trying our best to make this as good as we can for so long, I want to see it to the end.”

Of course, all three of the actors involved have gone on to reach enviable levels of success. Parker became one of the most recognizable women on television with her role as pot-slinging soccer mom Nancy Botwin on Showtime dramedy series Weeds.

Fans who are still thirsty to know the details of the Billy Cudrup and Claire Danes and affair can get Mary-Louise Parker’s perspective on the whole ordeal when her book comes out on Nov. 1. In the memoir, the actress reflects on her life through a series of letters addressed the men who had an influence on her — for better or worse. Cudrup is rumored to be on the list of letter recipients, reports The Guardian.

[Photo by D. Dipasupil and Peter Kramer/Getty Images]