Oh, the pitfalls of teen stardom. Sure, you get to mix with beautiful people and earn more pocket money than the average grocery bagger. The trade off? You'll be followed forever by a visual chronicle of your most awkward years. That's the deal for Claire Danes, who now cringes whenever fans approach her to autograph that newly-issued DVD of My So-Called Life.
"I have real fond memories of that time and really terrific associations with the show," says the 23-year-old, who currently plays Meryl Streep's daughter in The Hours. "It was just a very special experience. But my adolescence was very carefully documented. It's not something we like to see... My voice was kind of funny at times, and I didn't know about my body.
"I think it's very representative of the time in which we made it, and adolescence at large," she adds of ABC's 1994-95 cult fave. "So it's not something to be seriously ashamed of in any way."
Since even adult actors feel awkward doing love scenes, imagine how Danes felt at age 13, when she filmed Angela's hot and heavy dates with boyfriend Jordan. "I had to make out with Jared Leto!" she exclaims. "I had barely held hands with a boy. [Jared] was like 55 as far as I was concerned. He had so much experience; it was really tough. But it was special for that reason, too, because I was experiencing things for the very first time — and it left the strongest impression that any acting experience has ever left on me.
"It wasn't my first kiss," she giggles, "but I hadn't kissed like that before, let me tell you."