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Claire Danes: "Being a mum is incredibly challenging"

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We're used to stars waxing lyrical about the joys of motherhood so it comes as a breath of fresh air when one comes along and admits that having a baby is, in fact, very hard work as well.

Kudos to Claire Danes, then, who's done exactly that in a candid cover interview with the October edition of Harper's Bazaar.

The 35-year-old Homeland star, who has a 17-month-old son Cyrus with her actor husband Hugh Dancy, is keen to avoid romanticising motherhood and says that having a baby is hardly a walk in the park.

"Being a mum is incredibly challenging," she admits. "But we still feel a pressure to talk about it in very romantic terms. And it’s not just that. We all have that resentment at times and anxiety about being trapped by the role, that responsibility.

"And then chemically it can run riot. Your mental state, the hormonal swings are so extraordinary and singular to the female experience and they haven’t been taken very seriously or considered very deeply... I mean, post-partum aside, even if you have the most healthy relationship with your child and have support and resources, it’s tough. It’s really tough. And there’s no 'off' button.

"[For me] that was the hardest adjustment. You always feel beholden to somebody... And for so long they’re like koala bears, you just feel a physical responsibility to be there for them to cling to. It’s pretty primal."

Claire with husband Hugh and their baby Cyrus in New York this April

Danes also revealed that her young son was already a bit of a charmer.

"He’s kind of revealing himself to be a bit of a ham, which shouldn’t really be a surprise," she says. "A babysitter gave him a kiss goodbye and now he does 'Mwah, mwah' to everybody. Or he says 'Ciao'. It’s ridiculous. I did not teach him that."

Cyrus was born as the end of season two of Homeland, and Danes' role as a mother has very much overlapped with her award-winning portrayal of conflicted, ballsy CIA agent Carrie Mathison on the hit Showtime series.

"I went to the hospital at 10 o’clock, literally as the finale [for Homeland season two] was airing," Danes recalls, of the day Cyrus was born. "And I think my parents, who were in New York with me, were conflicted about what they were more excited for. Honest to God. It goes beyond parental pride, they’re really into the show."

Claire admits she will miss Damian Lewis in his role as Nicholas Brody

Spoiler alert; do not read on if you have not seen series three of Homeland

The actress is currently in Cape Town with Dancy and Cyrus, filming for the fourth season of Homeland, which airs on Channel 4 this October.

She admits that filming the show is a little strange in the absence of her long-time co-star and on-screen lover Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), who suffered a gruesome kill-off at the end of series three.

"I'm going to miss him," Danes said of Brody/Lewis. "A lot of people, even my friends, were saying, 'Is he really dead?' And it’s absurd, but I think there’s a part of me that is also a little unsure. I’ll really start to believe it when we’re filming and he’s not there. That’s going to be hard and sad. I loved working with him and he carried half the weight of the show. So I’m a little bit daunted about what that means for me."

The new series of Homeland sees Carrie take up her post as CIA station chief in Pakistan, as she struggles over whether to keep her and Brody's baby.

Danes says her character is likely to struggle with post-natal depression, and it seems she has already begun research on the topic.

"On the way here I was just listening to a podcast on postpartum depression," she said. "And Cyrus, he was reading my book on postpartum depression... it was a particularly amusing mash-up."

Claire on the front cover of Harper's

Carrie struggles with a lot of issues on the show - her strength and vulnerability in the face of bipolar disorder is part of her unique appeal - but Danes admits she was bemused over the hype that her signature "cry face" has generated.

"I'm surprised it’s so surprising,’ she says. "I have my guy [Hugh Dancy], who thinks I’m pretty enough in our life together, so I don’t need to be seducing the audience that way."

"And I always had an appreciation for the macabre. We would do these improvisations and I remember one time, I was maybe 11 or 12, I was into grotesque movement, and I decided to do a dance where I was just doing a diagonal across stage, doing these weird movements and I landed and I just spat on the floor, like totally pretentious performance art. But it was great. I liked the ugly even as a kid, and I think that has stayed with me now."

The fourth series of Homeland starts on Channel 4 in October.

Read the full interview with Claire Danes in the October issue of Harper's Bazaar, out now.

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