Claire Danes Talks Billy Crudup, Tabloids, The Strain Of Motherhood, And Carrie Mathison

As Season 5 of Homeland gets going, the woman who brings the show’s protagonist, Carrie Mathison, to life — Claire Danes — is opening up about a bit of drama from her youth.

The drama? A love triangle between Danes, actor and Stage Beauty co-star Billy Crudup, and his then-pregnant girlfriend, Mary-Louise Parker, in 2003.

Claire talked a bit about the affair, its representation in the tabloids, and how she handled the public scrutiny with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Monday, People reported. Then 36, Crudup left Parker for Danes, then 24, 11 years ago.

“I just was in love with him and needed to explore that and was 24. Didn’t quite know what those consequences might be. It’s okay. I went through it.”

The actor is now 47, making him 11 years Claire’s senior. He’d dated Mary-Louise for eight years prior to his and Danes’ relationship; their son, William Atticus Parker, was born in 2004.

In Claire’s interview with Stern, she said the public scrutiny in the tabloids that followed the love triangle was very difficult and “scary.” In 2009, Danes said in another interview that being cast in an “unflattering role” was very unpleasant.

“I had to remain steadfast … I was living with the same kind of integrity that I had always lived with,” Vanity Fair added.

Danes also addressed the uncomfortable relationship between a “public person” and the tabloids. Celebrities somehow become a “canvas” on which the public projects their hopes and fears — Claire said she learned to distance herself from it.

“But there are times of weakness in which you wonder if what they wrote is relevant to you or representative of you.”

As for Parker, she seems to have the same uneasy relationship with the public — though she’s remained pretty mum on the love triangle between herself, Claire, and Billy, she said in 2007 that she finds it odd that people “feel they have the right to comment on it. I’ve never commented on the situation, and I won’t because it’s not fair to my son.”

But now, 11 years later, everyone has moved on, and Claire said all the involved parties are friends, E! Online reported. Danes is married to Brit Hugh Dancy, and they have a son, named Cyrus, who was born in 2012.

Claire described the experience of motherhood as “incredibly challenging.”

“We all have that resentment at times and anxiety about being trapped by the role, that responsibility. And then chemically it can run riot… And there’s no ‘off’ button,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “[For me] that was the hardest adjustment. You always feel beholden to somebody… And for so long they’re like koala bears, you just feel a physical responsibility to be there for them to cling to. It’s pretty primal.”

Meanwhile, the fifth season of the Showtime drama, Homeland, is starting up soon, and Danes sat down with Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning to discuss the “high-strung, bipolar” Carrie Mathison, a character Claire enjoys playing and said she can relate to in many ways.

For a bit of a reminders, the fifth season begins with Carrie out of the CIA and working in the private sector for a “benevolent billionaire,” with a lawyer boyfriend, and a new baby.

“There’s like about five minutes of domestic bliss,” Danes said.

Claire praised her character, an intuitive, smart, driven, and promiscuous female protagonist who drives the story forward — such a character is rare for women. Danes said she and her fictional persona are quite similar in their approach to work — both are “deeply attracted” to what they do, and both engage in plenty of role-playing.

As for acting, Danes has been in the business since she was a child (she described herself as an actor who happened to be a kid) and said the key to success is just to keep working.

“You have to keep doing it. And you get outta shape really easily. And it’s really important to experiment with different genres, different styles, different mediums. And it’s essential that you work on stories that are layered and dynamic and can take you places.”

[Photos Courtesy Alberto E. Rodriguez, Donald Weber, Michael Loccisano / Getty Images]