This article is from the archive of our partner .

Claire Danes's "cry face"—that unique ability she has to make her features crumple and quiver when her characters are upset—has been the subject of Tumblrs and Saturday Night Live sketches, but Danes can't really explain how her body contorts in such a way. 

In John Lahr's profile in The New Yorker this week, Danes tried to elaborate on how she gives her her Homeland character Carrie Mathison such visceral reactions. 

Danes, speaking of her portrayal of Carrie’s manic moments in Season 3, told me, “I don’t even know how it happens, but I start shaking. My body expresses it. It’s really fun when it starts becoming physicalized. It’s not necessarily a conscious decision. It’s a little mysterious to me.” That kind of porous physicalization comes, in large part, from Danes’s early training in dance, which she began at the age of six. “Dancing is a kind of drawing,” she said. “I’m interpreting what I’m hearing with my body. Acting is like that, too.” She added, “I use my body to generate feelings a lot. If I have a very emotional scene, I’ll often walk in circles before. It gets you out of your head. I’m not afraid to use it.”

Throughout the piece, Lahr goes onto detail how Danes's on screen darkness is at odds with her real-life persona. Sure, she's intense—she sent Mandy Patinkin a "forensic two-page e-mail" when he asked for her roast chicken recipe—but she also has a sense of humor. The email to Patinkin, for example, ended with a pun on thyme. (She's also big on costume parties.) It's not all crumple-face all the time. 

Read the full profile here

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to