print this page

Press Archive

David Letterman

The Tonight Show with David Letterman
October 24, 1996

Dave: Our next guest one of the most charming and talented actresses we know, she currently stars in two new films, ah, one is called, ah, To Gillian on her 37th Birthday, which opens nationwide tomorrow, and, ah, Romeo and Juliet, which opens next Friday. Ladies and Gentleman, here she is, the very fetching, Claire Danes. Claire?

Dave: How ya doing?

Claire: I'm fine. How are you, I love being here.

Dave: Well, we love having you here, ya know?. We've taken a great liking to you, quite a fondness...that's developed for you...

Claire: I makes me feel quite good.

Dave: Well, good.

Claire: Quite good, in fact.

Dave: Well, sure, that's a nice thing to have. You're a kid, that's w= hat I like about you, you're just a kid.

Claire: I am. A year left, I'm almost 18, it's unbelievable.

Dave: Really, you have a birthday coming soon?

Claire: [pausing for Dave to remember...] April 12th, how =8Cbout that?

Dave: Oh my God, that's right, you and I have the same birthday.

Claire: It's my favorite day. We should...we should meet that day, um, I'll bring you a cake or something.

Dave: Okay, that'll be...I'll look forward to that.

Claire: Or I'll pop out of a cake, or something. [Dave doesn't know wha= t to say] No, I'm kidding. [Dave still doesn't know what to say, crowd laughs]. Um...I'll be 18 at that point, so it'll be okay. [Crowd loves that, Save is trying to come up with something]

Dave: There's not really much I can say, is there?

Claire: I didn't go too far, did I?

Dave: I don't really think I can respond, can I?

Claire: [loving this...] Oh no....

Dave: Until you're 18, of course....

Claire: Right, right. [Crowd laughs]

Dave: Well, anyway, it's nice you, you look great, and you're in two big blockbuster movies, that Romeo and Juliet...that's Shakespeare, you know?

Claire: Hey, there ya go. It was a little daunting attacking Juliet.

Dave: get to play Juliet, then?

Claire: Yeah, I do.

Dave: Well, this is big time stuff.

Claire: No, it's amazing, I can't tell you how many people, who, you kn= ow, when I tell them I'm in Romeo and Juliet say "Oh, and who do you play?= "

Dave: Well, see, that's me, that's me. You're making fun of me. No, = I'm that dumb...sure.

Claire: Well, there's...there's one girl character in the play. It's that or the nurse.

Dave: Oh, that's right, you're not like, ah, Juliet's sister.

Claire: no no. Or best friend.

Dave: Laura. Tiffany. Juliet's sister Tiffany.

Claire: Right. [Crowd laughs]

Dave: Ah...but now, ah...we've had many many many...this is a play that'= s been produced dozens of times.

Claire: A million times. Yeah,'s my job to make it fresh and interesting.

Dave: What are you doing to it now?

Claire: Well, it's a modern day version, and people are sorta categorizing it as like, the MTV version, but, it's very hip, and we wanted to make it accessible. It was a little strange, ya know, Juliet's...ya know...Romeo= 's driving a car...and Juliet kills herself with a gun instead of a sword....

Dave: Really?

Claire: It's rather tragic.

Dave: Now did Shakespeare come to the set while you were filming?

Claire: Uh...I had visions every once in a while....

Dave: Yeah...But it turned out to be...are you happy how it turned out?

Claire: I'm actually really pleased, I think it's very cool, it's um..I'm usually never happy with what I do, so, it's really exciting.

Dave: I know something else about you....

Claire: Oh no....

Dave: You recently got yourself a drivers licence.

Claire: INDEED!

Dave: So now you can drive cars and stuff.

Claire: My most major accomplishment. Yeah.

Dave: Was it an ordeal for you?

Claire: It was ridiculous.

Dave: Is this the kind of thing...when I was your age, all I could think about, all I could care about, all I waited, all I wanted, was to get my drivers license.

Claire: Yeah....

Dave: That was it.

Claire: How long did it take you, I'm sure you passed on the first time.

Dave: Slick. I was ready to go.

Claire: Ohh....

Dave: You're looking at a guy who can drive....

Claire:'re breaking my heart.

Dave: I can drive. [Crowd cheers] had trouble with it?

Claire: Oy! It took me three times to get my license.

Dave: But now...but the written part is very very easy.

Claire: Oh yeah, that part I had no problems with.

Dave: Yeah, the written part is okay.

Claire: Cause actually, it was the driving part, that sort of....

Dave: I see. What threw you, the parallel parking?

Claire: Um, the first time, I'm...the woman was tricky, and these...these...[Crowd laughs] Ya know, these driving instructors are...they're like tyrants, I swear., yeah so she told me to park on the edge of the, ya know, on the curb, she said park anywhere that you want, I said "Anywhere, okay", so, I park sorta on a red line, right? [Dave and crowd laughs] We were only there for about two seconds, I wasn'= t going to get out of the car.

Dave: Right, sure, you're just parking.

Claire: So, right, so, she yells at me, ya know, like really intensely, I thought she was going to use physical abuse, and know, and I said, "Well, I'm not...not going to be here for long," and she said "Well this is the attitude you have to change." You know, so I didn't want to have to get back into vehicle for months. And then I did....

Dave: So you're....

Claire: And then I took another test and I failed again....

Dave: Now wait a minute...that way you failed because you were parked near the red line.

Claire: Yeah, because I parked in a red line and that's completely illegal

Dave: But, you know, it's not a bad thing, if you're going to drive, drive properly.

Claire: Right, no, I know.

Dave: Cause, as you know, when you start driving around, you'll recognize, there's too many boobs out there as it is.

Claire: I know...

Dave: So you have to know what you're doing behind the wheel.

Claire: And actually, I'm a little more confident now.

Dave: Alright, so what happened in test number two?

Claire: Well, test number two, ah, I was parking, in like, a slew of orange cones, and I lightly tapped the front one.

Dave: Tapped the cone.

Claire: Yeah. And know, and the guy failed me, for that, right?

Dave: Tapping a cone, sure.

Claire: And I said, "Well, it's just plastic, right?" And he said, = "Well, it could have been a baby or something."

Dave: Well, that's right. Well, again, I'm with the guy, I'm with the= guy.

Claire: You're right, no, it's very true. But you know what? The third time, I went to a very obscure town in California....

Dave: Where they don't care, is that what you're saying?

Claire: Where they don't care....

Dave: Where anything goes. {garbled} and fly, we don't care.

Claire: And they passed me with flying colors.

Dave: Thata girl. [Cheers] Have you got yourself a car?

Claire: Yeah.

Dave: What kind of a car do you have?

Claire: I've...I've had a car for about a year, but now I've finally g= otten really possessive over it because it's mine, I can drive it.

Dave: What kind is it?

Claire: It's a Blazer. It's a Chevy Blazer.

Dave: Blazer. One of the four-by-four kinda deals?

Claire: It's kinda hip. Yeah, so...

Dave: Yeah, that's nice, sure.

Claire: I wanted everything, it's all juiced up.

Dave: How's your boyfriend doing?

Claire: You know, my boyfriend and I broke out...broke up.

Dave: Oh, really?

Claire: I broke out after I broke up. Um...

Dave: What's your boyfriend's name? Doug?

Claire: Um....

Dave: Was it Doug? [Claire's laughing] It was Doug, was it Doug?

Claire: It was Andrew. Andrew. I mean, we're still really good friends..= =2E.

Dave: Of course you are.

Claire: It's been reported... [Crowd is laughing] Apparently, like there= 's this big news flash all over the place, on CNN, on MTV, there was an article about it in USA Today...

Dave: Well, let me tell you something....

Claire: ...That I'm dispiritly looking for a boyfriend.

Dave: Doug called me in tears. [Laughs] You're better off without him, he's a punk.

Claire: Right, well...he's making an album in Mississippi.

Dave: He's a musician, or something, right?

Claire: He's a musician, right. And so, yeah, and so he's very famous i= n this town, and people are dressing up as him for Halloween.

Dave: Didn't he also shoplift? Wasn't this guy a shoplifter?

Claire: no no, that was another boy, I really know how to pick them.

Dave: Ah....oh, yes sir.

Claire: But, it's kinda fun, being...being single, and, you know.

Dave: You're seventeen, come on, what are you talking about? [Crowd's laughing] Being single. Well, we should do something on our collective birthday, our mutual birthday.

Claire: I think we should, I hope I'm in town.

Dave: How about this: you, me and Ted Danson.

Claire: Let's do it...does he have - is his birthday April 12th? [Crowd laughs]

Dave: Ah...who cares when his birthday is, it'll just be fun.

Claire: Right...right...we'll lie.

Dave: Yeah. We have to go, we're out of time, but stay here.

Claire: Alright. Oh...thank you.

Dave: Stay here, do you mind? Can you stay here, Claire?

Claire: Oh course, I love staying here.

Dave: Please stay here, alright. We'll be right back with Phil Collins. [commercial break]

Dave: Here, I forgot to show this. This is your drivers licence, right there. This is to show, right there. Look at that. Look at how cute...ohh....

Claire: That's not such a terrible picture, I think, I'm really really p= roud.

Dave: Very nice. That looks great. Congratulations. Nice going.

Claire: Thank you.

Dave: Our next guest is a multiple Grammy winning performer who has sold over 200 million albums worldwide. Wow.

Claire: Very impressive.

Dave: Wow.

Claire: Indeed. [Dave continues with Phil Collins' intro, Phil comes out]

Dave: Welcome back to the show, Phil, always a pleasure, nice to see you. You seem like you're very energetic tonight.

Phil: Oh yes, I'm all go, mate.

Dave: How old are you? [Crowd laughs]

Phil: Um...I'm only 45.

Dave: Forty-five years old! I'm...I'm 49. Look...look at that, she's seventeen right there.

Claire: I'm...I'm a young thing right here.

Dave: Isn't that unbelievable, isn't it?

Phil: [makes weird noises] No, it is, it's extraordinary. There's people of 17, and there's people of 45 and 49. It's incredible. [Crowd laughing] [Talking about Phil living in Switzerland]

Dave: And what kind of things do you do there?

Phil: In Switzerland? I, ah...well, I got the boats, I waterski...

Claire: Watches? Do you make watches?

Phil: Oh, I don't make watches.

Dave: Oh! That's very good! Excellent question. [Crowd laughs] Claire wants to know...[Phil has stunned look] [Dave laughs]

Phil: Has...has he paid you for this? No...they....

Dave: He moved to Switzerland to pursue his first love: watch making. [Crowd laughs]

Phil: It's,'s a fair call.

Dave: I wish Ted Danson were here to hear this. [Crowd really laughs] It's too bad. [More laughing]

Phil: It's that and the chocolate.

Dave: Ah...that's good. And so, you spend a lot of time outdoors, and you...boating and so forth?

Phil: Yeah. I love boats, and, ah, it's like, you know you have to take a test, you can't just go out on the water.

Dave: Just like Claire was telling us about driving.

Phil: Exactly.

Claire: I'm just ridden with tests lately.

Phil: Well, you have to take a test on the boat, you have to have a practical test, and you have to take a, you know, written test. And, ah...on the tour....

Claire: Did you pass on your first time?

Phil: Yes, I'm afraid so. [Crowd laughs] I'm afraid so.

Claire: I'm the only one.

Dave: But it's Switzerland, ya know? Switzerland.

Phil: One of those out-of-the-way places that...

Dave: What kind of things do you have to master before let you uh...

Phil: Well, you have to knots, know the codes, and on the tour, me and Orianne, my girlfriend, we actually had to practice, you see, and we had to...we had bits of rope everywhere.

Dave: Uh-huh. Claire? Maybe you'd better leave the room.

Phil: [laughing] I think so.... [Crowd laughing, Claire laughing]

Dave: You come back April 12th, alright? [Laughing] Ah...but now, what type of knots, like a bow-line? You know what a bow-line is?

Phil: A bow-line, yes.

Dave: A bow-line, yeah.

Phil: I have's a bit that I prepared here earlier.

Dave: Now first of all, you're not really a boatman, you're not really a yachtsman if you're calling that rope. That's line.

Claire: Oh, line....

Dave: Yeah, line.

Phil: Maybe in America it's called line. [Crowd laughs]

Dave: How about a square knot.

Claire: I know a square knot.

Dave: Yeah, I know a square knot as well.

Phil: [already holding his finished bow-line] I was just doing a bow-line.

Claire: Do you have that story of a rabbit goes around the tree and though the hole and... [Dave and crowd laugh] Did you hear that? That's how I learned....

Phil: That's what this is.

Claire: Yeah. Oh, see?

Phil: See, I did it and no one noticed. [throws the rope over his shoulder, crowd cheers]

Dave: Look at this. Wait'll you see this, you're going to see something here. Look at this. We saw Claire's driver's license, take a look at m= y drivers license. There, now there's a guy, there's a driver. Hey! How= ya doing? I'm telling you, when I drive, I work up a sweat. Ah...we'll be right back, Phil is going to favor us with a song, we'll be right back.

[commercial break]

Dave: This'll be a lot of fun, don't you think, Claire? [Claire's bee= n watching the set-up of the band and doesn't entirely realize they're bac= k on] Ladies and gentleman, here he is now singing the [crowd laughing at Claire] the title song from his new CD, "Dance into the Night". No, that's not right, it's "Dance into the Light", "Dance into the Lig= ht". "Dance into the Light". I know. We got no white out? Jes[censored!!!] [Crowd laughs] "Dance into the Light". Here is Phil Collins.

[Phil sings, commercial break]

Dave: What did you think? Did you have a nice time?

Claire: I had a great time.

Dave: Was it fun to be on a show with really old guys?

Claire: I...I...I love your show, and I love hanging out with old guys.

Dave: Well, we're very fond of you. Thank you, and good luck with your films: Romeo and Juliet....

Claire: Alrighty then....

Dave: ...and uh, To Gillian on her 38th Birthday. 38th Birthday?

Claire: 37th.

Dave: 37th Birthday.

Claire: 18th birthday.

Dave: 38th is like, the sequel. Go see that, in a couple weeks. [laughter] My thanks to Phil Collins and Ted Danson, we'll see you tomorrow night.

“My dad thinks every person in the world is having more fun than him.”

Angela Chase, Episode 1: "My So-Called Life (Pilot)"