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Claire Danes Says She Decided to Marry Hugh Dancy After a Disappointing One-Night Stand

The Homeland star was determined to be single after splitting from Billy Crudup.

Actor Claire Danes has spent much of her life in the spotlight after first coming to fame through some soulful teen performances. In 1994, the same year that she made her feature film debut as Beth March in Little Women, she starred in the short-lived but much-mourned series My So-Called Life, and she's been working consistently ever since. The star's love life has also played out in front of an audience, from her earliest relationships to her 17-year romance with her husband, Hugh Dancy. The couple have been going strong almost since the moment they met making the 2006 movie, Evening. But the co-stars didn't get serious right away. Danes has admitted since that her revelation she wanted to marry the Hannibal star came about in a somewhat surprising way. Read on to find out how a disappointing one-night stand made her realize she'd met her match.

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Her relationship before Dancy led to some backlash.

Claire Danes and Billy Crudup in 2006
Theo Wargo/WireImage

Before meeting Dancy, Danes had two long-term, high-profile relationships. Her first was with singer Ben Lee, who she met when she was 18. It was reported after their 2003 split that the Brokedown Palace star had dumped Lee for her Stage Beauty co-star Billy Crudup, whether or not that's how things really went down.

Crudup had also been one half of another celebrity couple prior to falling for Danes. His partner of almost eight years, Mary Louise Parker, was seven months pregnant when they split, and that timing led to Danes being branded by tabloids as a "homewrecker."

"That was a scary thing. It was really hard," Danes told Howard Stern in 2015 of the vitriol she received (via People). She explained of her state of mind at the time, "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."

She wanted to play the field after breaking up with Crudup.

Claire Danes in 2015

Perhaps the public scrutiny put too much stress on Crudup and Danes' relationship; they called it quits in 2006. That happened to be the same year that she filmed the ensemble drama Evening with Dancy. And while outsiders may be tempted to look for an overlap there, Danes has explained that she was actually not looking to start up anything serious with anyone at the time.

But, during a 2020 appearance on the podcast Armchair Expert, the now-43-year-old actor described herself as "a relationship creature," who's "been in relationships from pretty much the moment puberty hit, basically."

"We met at a rehearsal, and then we kind of disbanded, and we were going to regroup," Danes said of meeting Dancy and the rest of the cast of Evening. "And during that time where we all went back home, this breakup happened, and I was determined to be single, and I was really excited about it and kind of bragging about it."

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One date changed her perspective.

Claire Danes in 2022
lev radin/Shutterstock

"I went on date," Danes laughed on the podcast, "with somebody who's actually kind of known, but not in the business, so I can't say it. And I thought, 'This is okay.'"

The actor went on to say that she felt like she could be good at flirting with people and dating around, since she "feign[s] intimacy" for a living, but then "had one one-night stand, and that was it." Danes continued, "My palate was cleansed, and [I] went back and filmed the movie, realized, 'Oh [expletive], I think I'm gonna marry this person [Dancy], and the end of my life as a single person was realized."

Host Dax Shepard asked the Homeland star whether the one-night stand was "satisfying" or not. "It was really fun, but then he stopped emailing me," Danes replied. "It was a little disappointing, I gotta say."

She also walked back her comment that she realized quickly after that she was done playing the field, admitting that she was "in denial" for a while that she could keep it up. "Hugh was gonna be like, [my] next stop, but then he was just wonderful," Danes said, to "aw's" from the hosts.

Dancy is perfectly happy with how things turned out.

Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy in 2022
Theo Wargo/WireImage

Dancy and Danes kept their relationship relatively private until announcing their engagement in 2009 and then marrying later that year. The couple now have two sons, Cyrus Michael Christopher and Rowan. In January, their representatives shared with People that they're expecting their third child.

And her husband certainly doesn't mind Danes telling the story of how she came to realize that he was the one. The Law & Order star was asked about it when he appeared on SiriusXM's The Michelle Collins Show a few days after his wife's Armchair Expert episode dropped, and while he was surprised to hear that she shared it, he was hardly offended.

"The first thing I should mention is that this is complete news to me, so I'm glad I can respond to it," Dancy said, as reported by E! News. "I can only say that I'm really glad that my wife chose to have a one-night stand with an inadequate lover. It could have gone either way, who knows?"

He also clarified that they were not in any way together when Danes went on that fateful date. "This is when I kind of edge into dangerous territory perhaps," the actor explained. "But, it was kind of in the moment, I guess, when we were—I was single, and she was single, and we were both clearly thinking about it. But she was also thinking, I suppose—as one often does—'Well, do I wanna jump back into another relationship?'"

Ani Bundel
Ani Bundel is an entertainment writer covering everything from celebrities to movies to peak TV. Read more
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