Claire Danes for “Shopgirl”

Quietly reserved, Claire Danes is in the Toronto Film Festival to firstly support her co-starring role in Steve Martin’s Shopgirl and to accompany boyfriend Billy Crudup to the premiere of his latest film, Trust the Man. But it was the former that the pretty actress was here to discuss, a quietly poetic film in which she plays a shop assistant and aspiring artist in Los Angeles searching for requited love, which she things she finds in the arms of a wealthy, older man, plays the film’s screenwriter, Steve Martin.

Hers is a difficult character to characterize, this young, naive, vulnerable young woman, whom Danes defines as “really inexperienced in a lot of ways who’s pretty much just gotten out of college I mean most of my friends who are at that time in their lives, in that transitional period, feel very ill-equipped to do very practical things. They know how to talk abstractly and theoretically about sophisticated ideas but actually paying for their rent and applying those ideas in a practical way is totally overwhelming and alien. So I think she’s just trying to figure out where her edges are, plus she’s in a new city, out of step with the culture, trying to get a sense of it and engage with it.”

Danes is adept, at interviews, to reveal little of herself and in relating to this character, a woman desperately searching for uncomplicated love, Danes is coy as to whether she can relate to her.” I mean she’s very clever, and I even think that she’s emotionally savvy,” Danes explains about her character. “She’s an artist and an observer and just not so aggressive, but identify with her to an extent because “she is so well drawn, but I don’t feel like her twin at all. I had to find her and make her sensibility and story relevant to my own. I mean, she’s creative, and I’d like to think that I am, and she’s pretty sensitive as I am.”

Fans of the pretty actress will be surprised at her first nude scene in the film, but Danes strongly feels it was a very relevant moment in the relationship between the characters played by herself and Martin. ” I’m not a flasher typically,” she begins, laughingly. “I think that the nudity was important for a couple of reasons: One they were in a sexual relationship. which was the dominant reason they were together initially, even though it grows into something more complex than that. Also it’s an erotic story and I think that needed to be rendered. But also she’s surprising because she’s really unsure of herself in some ways and then in other ways she’s very sure, confident and even bold, so I think I found that compelling and kind of paradoxical. So because it surprised me about her, I assumed it would surprise the audience and make her more dynamic.”

Claire Danes, who will next be seen in the ensemble drama The Family Stone, attained success at an early age, spent some 6 years living with her now former Australian boyfriend in Sydney, and seems to be in the right place in her life, both personally and professionally. Despite the ferocious competitiveness prevalent within Hollywood, Danes is able to balance a perfect career. Asked what it is she is looking for in her career, Danes smiles. “What am I looking for? I tend to, I don’t want to say make choices passively but, I don’t originate work, I just interpret it. So I I’m not burning to play any one particular role. It’s always exciting when I have a chance to play somebody who undergoes some change and growth and is not just a conduit for somebody else’s big experience and who actually gets to have one herself. But by the same token I’m also really happy to play a more supporting character – if I love the writing I’m happy to be of service to that.”

Beyond Family Stone, Danes says she’s next set to do “a movie with Richard Gere – a psychological cop thriller called The Flock, with a Hong-Kong director named Andrew Lau. I’ve got to do something like that at some stage just to make it all even.”