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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Howard Stern to Judge America's Got Talent; PJ Crowley on What Got Him Fired; The Furious Lewis Black is Back; Interview with Claire Danes

Aired December 15, 2011 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, he's outspoken, he's hilarious, he's dangerous, and he's got my old job on "America's Got Talent." An exclusive with the great Howard Stern.

Plus, he was forced out of the Obama administration when he locked horns with the Pentagon. Now PJ Crowley speaks out on what got him fired.

And this is what Lewis Black said about the GOP field the last time he was here.

LEWIS BLACK, COMEDIAN: They're all really bright and seriously intelligent. You know, first off, no grip on science? Science, no. No science. Did these people ever look? Did they all flunk it? Is that their fear? Do they -- do they think science is a lobby?

MORGAN: Can you imagine what will happen tonight when I turn Lewis Black loose again?

Also, new Golden Globe nominee Claire Danes, would she share the secrets of President Obama's favorite show?

Does somebody die?

CLAIRE DANES, ACTRESS: Yes, somebody died.

MORGAN: From "Homeland," Claire Danes.

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

When I made the decision to leave "America's Got Talent" I wondered who Simon Cowell could possibly get to replace me. Well, now we know. I want to say, I feel just a tiny slither of sympathy for the first poor tone-deaf singer to face the rough of the great Howard Stern.

And Howard joins me now.

Howard, congratulations.

HOWARD STERN: Well, Piers, I thought it was appropriate that I call you first because, after all, I mean you created work for me. You left "America's Got Talent", and I became fascinated by this idea of replacing you, although I have to say you were one of the greats. You are definitely one of my -- between you and Simon, I would say you were the two best judges ever on these type of shows. So big shoes to fill.

MORGAN: Well, thank you, Howard. I think there have been two reactions to the appointment, which I particularly enjoyed. One is the "Washington Post" which has described you as the new Piers Morgan. Could you give me your thoughts on that?

STERN: That was always my -- that was always my intention to become the new Piers Morgan.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Secondly and perhaps more amusingly, I have a statement from Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, who has reacted as follows. Now I'll read this in full because I think you'll find it quite entertaining.

"In an act of desperation for a flailing network, NBC has hired Howard Stern, a performer synonymous with shock, profanity and obscenity as a judge on a prime time talent competition. Not coincidentally in just over three weeks the network will be standing before the United States Supreme Court arguing for the right to use the F word at any time of the day, even in front of children. The once proud broadcast network has lost its way and has made it clear it holds no concern whatsoever for children and families. It also risks losing millions in advertising dollars. Whatever principles NBC had in the past while the network was successful have clearly gone out the window."

Howard, it doesn't get better than that, does it?

STERN: First of all, your read was impeccable. I don't know why you're anchoring the news. Secondly, I can outdo you. I'm seeing here, someone just sent me one. One of my guys sent me an article because these articles are coming out fast and furiously.

MORGAN: Yes.

STERN: One of the "Gawker," a guy says NBC pins hopes on rich pervert.

(LAUGHTER)

STERN: I like that one. I think part of my fascination in taking this job at "America's Got Talent" was the idea of seeing my face on network television prime time. It became fascinating to me. I certainly had kind of decided about two years ago to slow down my workload. And then all of the sudden this opportunity came up with you leaving "America's Got Talent." And when they flew in and they approached me about it, and I was very honored because as you know they agreed to move the show to New York. It's the only way I could have done it.

MORGAN: Yes. STERN: So I felt very honored and certainly flattered. But I was anticipating all of this because especially the article you read from these guys, you know -- what is the name of it? Parents, Teacher Council or something?

MORGAN: The Parents Television Council. I didn't know it existed.

STERN: You know, these are the same guys who actually disappeared when I went off Terrestrial Radio. Their entire sort of fundraising and their sort of being -- the reason they're in existence is to get me off the air. And then I went to Satellite, and I think their fundraising went down.

And you know I came to explode this organization with their 1800 Twitter followers. It's pretty much nonexistent. But networks shudder from people like this. They buy a letterhead -- I guess they get their printer out and they make a letterhead and they start to complain that I'm some sort of weird pervert who's going to convert America into some kind of zombie sex fiends.

(LAUGHTER)

STERN: But I can assure you and the rest of America what I'm looking at here is to be a very good judge. To sit there, I take it seriously, you know I watched the show.

MORGAN: Yes, I know. You're a big fan.

STERN: Yes. I love this type of television. And the idea that they're coming to me I think first got started because I've had a rather long and lustrous radio career. And I've had -- you know, I've had films, I've had books, I've had music sound tracks. And I think they became sort of enamored with the idea of me becoming the judge because they knew I was honest.

Whatever you think of me, I'm honest and I'll give you an honest opinion. And my -- and really my goal is to find real talent and to actually find someone who can become a major superstar.

MORGAN: Now I've read, Howard, that you intend to -- when you see a young contestant appearing on stage, you're going to haul out their mothers and harangue them before their child performs and make it absolutely clear that if you then rip this child's performance to pieces, it's not your fault.

STERN: Well, yes. If you're going to put your children on television to be judged, which by the way, I don't know that I would ever do that with my children. I raised three daughters and I don't think that that would be appropriate. But there are parents out there who think it's a good idea. And you got to be damn sure that this is a wise decision before you do it, because not only are you putting a kid out there, to be judged, but -- you know, if a kid really does have talent, you do need time to nurture that talent, develop that talent. I think if you took John Lennon himself, who was one of the greatest talents of all time, and put him out there when he was 10 years old, you might have been disappointed. What was so beautiful about John Lennon, he spent years in Germany in small clubs perfecting his talent. And so you wouldn't have had John Lennon. You wouldn't have some, you know, kid out there who was rather confused and not understanding why people were booing him or hitting him with X buzzers like, you know, so many times you had to do.

I don't think it would be easy to say to a 10-year-old or a 15- year-old, or whatever. You have no talent or, you know, you're in the wrong business. I don't think this is an easy job at all. But I refuse --

MORGAN: No, no, don't think -- I don't think working with -- I don't think working Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne is an easy job either. I can tell you.

STERN: In fact I feel your pain. I think I've said to Howie and I've said to Sharon, the shenanigans are going to stop. I said, Piers was too nice to you two. There were many times just between Piers you guys would take someone -- like those -- remember the guy with the furry costumes and you said it's ridiculous. I happened to agree with you.

MORGAN: Ridiculous.

STERN: I think they put him through just to tweak you. And --

MORGAN: Well, I'm thinking, Howard. I'm thinking, if they carry on their ludicrous past time of putting through these terrible acts what we should really angle for is next season, the one after this, it just be me and you sitting there.

STERN: Well, let me tell you something, I would approve of that. But you know I love Howie and I love Sharon.

MORGAN: Yes.

STERN: You know they're great people. I've known Sharon for years and I've known Howie for years. I have them on my show many times. And I look forward to working for them -- working with them, rather. Maybe I'm working for them. I'm not sure. I think I'm working for Simon Cowell.

(LAUGHTER)

STERN: But you know --

MORGAN: Yes, what are you going to do about that by the way?

(CROSSTALK)

STERN: One of the things I've said to them when I'll put them on notice, I will not stand for nonsense because if they love the show, and it's a pretty good job. If you love the show, for god sakes, treat it as if it's real. Don't put through acts that don't deserve it. There are plenty of people who have talent and they're dying for a break. Let's not abuse the privilege.

MORGAN: And what are you going to do about Simon Cowell? Because technically, Howard, he's your boss now. It's his show.

STERN: There's nothing to do about Simon. I mean I'm a fan of Simon's. I happen to believe Simon is a really strong judge. I also think L.A. Reid is a strong judge. I think Nicole and Paula are out of their minds. I don't know how you judge by not giving your opinion? Everyone can't be great. Is that right, Piers?

MORGAN: Completely. And I think all you have to be is honest. And people say to me, what's their talent, and I guess they'll throw the same thing at you and say, all right, you're a good deejay but what else do you do, and the reality is you don't have to go to the sun to know it's hot, right?

STERN: That's right. Well, you know, my criteria will be, is this somebody I would really pay money to see? You know would I -- would I sit there and watch this person in Vegas -- I'm at the -- I'm at the blackjack table, I'm having a party, I'm drinking, I'm having fun, and someone says to me, let's go see so and so, they better be really good.

And so, you know, I'm looking forward to this, and it really seems like a new challenge and a lot of fun. But at the same point I can see --

MORGAN: I love the line you used, Howard. I loved the line that you used that you're going to be Piers on steroids. Would you like to clarify that?

STERN: Yes, I think it goes back to what I was saying before that, you know, I think a lot of times Howie and Sharon, you know, pick someone just to kind of annoy you. And I think that Howie and Sharon know --

MORGAN: True.

STERN: -- that I have a tremendous amount of power. My radio show is very powerful. And I don't think they're going to be up to any shenanigans. They're going to fall right in line. So, while you yielded a lot of power on that show, I think I'm going to -- as I said, be on steroids. There's going to be no shenanigans. There's a new sheriff in town.

MORGAN: Well, Howard, I can't think of anybody better, literally, on planet earth to pass the torch onto. I think you're going to be hilarious, dangerous, outrageous, sharp, funny, all the things that my critics would skew up to say I never was.

I wish you all the very best. It'll be a fantastic --

STERN: Thank you, Piers. And --

MORGAN: It will be a riot with you in there.

STERN: Do you have any advice for me?

MORGAN: Yes, I would avoid Howie Mandell like the plague, would be my main advice to you .

STERN: Do you really not like Howie? Because I think Howie is one of the greatest.

MORGAN: I like Howie in small doses. I -- about three seconds a week.

(LAUGHTER)

STERN: Well, all right. I'm not going to avoid Howie. I'm going head first in this thing and I will be calling you from time to time privately for your opinion on things.

MORGAN: Well, I also think -- I was thinking about this. I think you should call during the show anyway. Just ring me up on air.

STERN: That's right.

MORGAN: And give me updates on how it's all going and I'll give you my honest, candid advice.

STERN: I think if I feel like I'm getting beaten up by Howie and Sharon, I'll just call you up and let you yell at them. Well, let's see what happens.

MORGAN: And rest assured --

(CROSSTALK)

STERN: I'm really looking forward to it, and it should be a lot of fun. And as I -- I said, I'm very honored and flattered. And it seems like a new challenge. And we'll see what happens. I think it's going to be a very interesting ride.

MORGAN: Well, I think it's going to be a fantastic success. I wish you all the very best. Thanks for coming on. And I hope we can sit down face-to-face when I get back to New York and talk about it all again.

STERN: Yes. Who are you interviewing next? Who's on next?

MORGAN: I'm interviewing Claire Danes from "Homeland "who I think is one of the great acting talents in America right now.

STERN: All right. Well, tell Claire, I am a judge. And her next movie I will be judging, and by the way, you know, this is not that I'm a judge my opinion really counts.

MORGAN: And by the way, Howard, now that I've retired as a judge, of course, what I might do is when you start judging yourself, I may have to judge your judging performances on my show. STERN: Feel free. Let me have it. I think I won't disappoint you. And you know it's really weird, what do all these people think I'm going to do that are complaining? I mean, I'm going on to judge. I don't know what they think I'm going to do that's so bizarre.

MORGAN: I have heard a theory today that you intend having a bowl of sulfuric acid and you're going to lower young children under the age of 10 into the acid if they miss a note.

STERN: That's an excellent -- that would be a real show. That would be good. People actually dying when I tell them they're no good.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Whatever it will be --

STERN: Just carry on.

MORGAN: Like all the things you do it will be unpredictable and brilliant to watch. Good luck with it.

STERN: All right. Thank you, bye-bye.

MORGAN: Take care.

STERN: All right.

MORGAN: When we come back, a man who spoke his mind and was forced out of the Obama administration, PJ Crowley on WikiLeaks, and a man who's never afraid to speak his mind, the king of the rant, the ever angry Lewis Black.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEON PANETTA, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Your effort to make this day a reality is nothing short of miraculous. This was one of the most complex logistical undertakings in U.S. military history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was the American flag being taking down in Baghdad. The symbolic end to the war in Iraq after nine years. Close to 4500 American deaths and about $1 trillion spent.

And joining me now to talk about all this is PJ Crowley, the former assistant secretary of state for public affairs in the Obama administration.

Mr. Crowley, what are your thoughts as the Iraq war ends?

PJ CROWLEY, FORMER ASST. SECRETARY OF STATE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Well, it was an extraordinary effort, Piers, and perhaps, you know, on -- at one level it was nine years. At another level it was 20 years. I participated in the first Gulf War in 1990-1991. And to some extent the war never ended. You know certainly the major accomplishment is the introduction of democracy to Iraq. The demise of Saddam Hussein. But as you just said, it came at a tremendous cost.

MORGAN: I mean when you look at what happened in Libya, for example, and the way that campaign rolled out with the elimination of Gadhafi, zero loss to American military life, I mean a lot of people are looking at the cost of the Iraq war, both in human toll and in financial toll. And saying surely there had to be a better way to get rid of Saddam Hussein than that.

CROWLEY: And there could -- there could have been a different way. I think, you know, refocusing on Saddam Hussein after 9/11 was a perfectly appropriate thing to do. I think if I -- if I criticized the Bush administration it was to be in such a hurry. That sense of urgency that it read into the prospect that Saddam may pass nuclear know-how to bin Laden, I've never thought of that as being a plausible scenario, but certainly Iraq is much better off, you know, without Saddam Hussein, no question about that.

And when you put together the -- not only the direct cost, the trillion dollars, the indirect cost in terms of U.S. standing around the world, obviously this is something that we have endured and succeeded, but at a cost that can't really be replicated in the other scenario.

MORGAN: And in the end, I mean the reason that was put forward for the war in Iraq globally from everyone involved was that Saddam Hussein was armed to the teeth with weapons of mass destruction. They never turned up. And we have to assume now he didn't have any. Does that make the war in your view potentially an illegal conflict?

CROWLEY: That's a very good question. I mean, certainly, that's the -- that's the difference between the First Gulf War where there was a U.N. Security Council resolution. The Second Gulf War that was not seen as being legitimate. Nonetheless, I also participated in the Kosovo conflict, which on the one hand did not have a Security Council resolution. It was broadly seen as legitimate, you know, because of NATO's involvement.

So, I mean, I think there were some political mistakes along the way, but in one sense we'll have to wait and see, perhaps 10 years, you know, on the one hand, democracy in Iraq is a good thing. On the one -- on the other hand Iraq was a counterway to Iran. We now see a resurge in Iran in the region.

And so ultimately you go to war to achieve broader political objectives. And we simply do not know at this point whether, you know, 10 years from now the region will be more stable because of this action, but my focus is on, yes, we accomplished a significant amount, but it came at an unexpected and tremendous cost.

MORGAN: Let us turn quickly to Bradley Manning. He's the man who basically cost you your job. You defended him by basically saying that America was treating him badly despite his alleged crimes. He has his day in court tomorrow. What are your feelings about that? CROWLEY: Well, you know, eight months ago I thought that Bradley Manning's treatment out of Brig in Quantico was a distraction and was actually undercutting the unnecessary prosecution. Tomorrow he will have what's called an Article 32 hearing. This is a process by which there's an evaluation of the evidence and a determination on whether there's enough evidence to proceed, you know, to trial.

Hopefully tomorrow the proceeding will be about what Bradley Manning is alleged to have done, and not about what the United States government has done to him.

MORGAN: PJ Crowley, thank you very much.

CROWLEY: All right, Piers.

MORGAN: I want to turn to a man you could call a comic on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Lewis Black is known for his rants on politics, religion and cultural trends. He's Comedy Central's top 100 comedians of all time, and he's constantly furious. And Lewis Black is back with me now for the second time.

And I'm looking at you, Lewis. You look even angrier than last time.

BLACK: Well, I'm actually very happy because you're not here, and I'm in the studio, and I just have to tell you I've started twittering and there will be an "Occupy Piers Morgan" studio, and hundreds will be joining me shortly. And it'll be tough for you to get it back. I'm really comfortable in this seat. I'm really enjoying myself.

MORGAN: Now, Lewis, you've done three tours of Iraq. What is your sense about this? Now we look back on this decade-long war. Was it a valid war? What do you think the troops felt when they're out there? Do they feel once it was clear the weapons of mass destruction didn't actually exist that it was a legitimate conflict?

BLACK: What was really extraordinary about those three USO tours was that it was probably one of the most -- really probably -- I was profoundly, you know, changed by it. I -- you would expect, you know, the way that we feel that, you know, well, look at this. You know, they've been dropped there. They've got to deal with all of this stuff, you know, the reason we're there legitimate.

But what was extraordinary was that they felt that they were there. There was a duty. They had a focus that you and I would never come close to. They maintained their eye on what needed to be done.

What's truly unbelievable and the story that I don't think has been told properly is that these -- these troops really were kind of dropped there without any instruction. Without -- we only had a few people who spoke Arabic. There were 30 in the embassy, for crying out loud. They're dropped there without any map, and they had to spend the time really figuring out how to really do the restructuring of that country. And they -- it took them a while, and rightfully so, because they've got -- you know, they're troops. This is not what they were sent for. And so when you -- when I was there to watch what they had done, and there -- it was unbelievable to me.

MORGAN: It certainly is. Let's take a little break, Lewis. Come back and talk about the GOP, the Republican race, because from a comedic point of view, the elimination of Herman Cain must have come as a massive disappointment to you.

BLACK: It hurt here.

(LAUGHTER)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: What I really would like to tell the troops is if the American people at this point could exhibit one-third of the sacrifice that our troops do, we would be so far ahead as a country it would be astonishing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACK: That's right. Donald Trump came out at a birther, which is Republican for I'm running for president. And I for one couldn't be more on board. Trump 2012. You're fired, America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was, of course, my guest Lewis Black for his segment "Back in Black" on "The Daily Show."

It is disappointing if Donald Trump really doesn't run that we could miss out on President Trump, isn't it?

BLACK: Yes, I think -- I think that we have to as a people reclaim a certain kind of rationality when it comes to candidates. I realize as a comic this is really -- he is truly a spectacular candidate. But it works really best on a fictional level.

If we can imagine Donald Trump, because this is not someone who should be -- I don't know why initially when he said he was running that someone, an adult, which we don't seem to have in this country could go up to him and just go no, no, you can't run. I know it says anyone can run. But you can't.

MORGAN: Now what about Herman Cain, Lewis? Because Herman Cain was, from a comedic point of view, gold dust, wasn't he?

BLACK: He's stellar. And once again, someone who gave us, you know, that 9-9-9 dollar footlong as a slogan. He -- but here again we've got a guy, and it makes you wonder where we're at, where someone who is truly has no credentials, none, none, to be president of the United States. To get a run that was that long because he -- boy, we love the way he just, you know, he shoots his mouth off.

Well, then in the basis of that, go to the deli counter of any place in New York City and grab a guy behind the deli. I -- and what I found truly stunning was that all of those debates, Piers. All of the stuff that went on in which they had -- people are questioning him. And no one at any point really kind of goes, you know, maybe you shouldn't be running because -- you're probably incompetent to be the president of the United States.

But what ends up kicking him out of the race is that he's sexually harassing women. Which isn't a good thing, not on any level. But it's the only time he's looked presidential.

MORGAN: Let's just -- let's turn to --

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Let's turn to Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Romney seems to --

BLACK: Do we have to? Do we have to?

MORGAN: Only to really examine whether you feel being accused of being too zany, and this seems certainly an appropriate question for you, Lewis, one of the zaniest man in America, is being zany a criteria for not being taken seriously as a president?

BLACK: Well, I mean, zany is not a word I'd use for Newt Gingrich. Zany is like something you'd say about a cartoon. Newt Gingrich is real. To say that, like saying that the Palestinian people aren't really a people isn't -- that's not a zany thing to say. That's a mildly psychotic thing to say in the midst of all the politics we live through on a daily basis. I -- and also my question that I wonder about, because it dawned on me while I was -- you know, this morning, is that you've got the people who were upset because how can we have a president whose name is Obama? What kind of name is that?

What kind of a name is Newt? What kind of a name is Mitt? Those are not names. Those are not real names.

MORGAN: Well, as somebody called Piers, I don't think I can really start dishing it out on the name front.

BLACK: But look what you're doing. You're not running to be the prime minister or the president.

MORGAN: Not yet.

BLACK: Well, I look forward to it.

MORGAN: Lewis Black, as always, very entertaining.

BLACK: It's a pleasure. Have a happy, happy and a merry, merry and all that jazz.

MORGAN: I will. And you. Have a zany Christmas.

Coming up, Golden Globe nominee and star of President Obama's favorite show apparently, "Homeland", the delectable Claire Danes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLAIRE DANES, ACTRESS: Please. I'm just making sure we don't get hit again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm glad someone is looking out for the country.

DANES: I'm serious. I missed something once before. I won't -- I can't let that happen again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was ten years ago. Everyone missed something that day.

DANES: Everyone's not me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That's Claire Danes, as an enigmatic CIA agent in Showtime's brilliant "Homeland." She's drawn rave reviews. That's nothing new. Joining me now is Claire Danes.

OK, I've got to held my hands up. I love "Homeland."

DANES: Thank you.

MORGAN: I don't just love it. I'm addicted. It has even displaced "The Good Wife."

DANES: That's very high praise.

(CROSS TALK)

DANES: We're the newbie. We're the new girl on the block.

MORGAN: It's phenomenal television. And you're just brilliantly psychotic. Sort of on the line nut case.

DANES: Yes, yes. No, she's really -- she's a tricky one. I adore her, but she's anything but straight forward.

MORGAN: How much of this -- and I really want the answer to be a lot -- how much of her is in you?

DANES: Um, we're both phony blonds. I don't know exactly. She seems very other to me. She seems quite alien. But I'm having a great time, you know, inhabiting her and just being very naughty.

MORGAN: She really is naughty.

DANES: She is. She is. But she means well. In some ways, she's very well earnest and well intentioned.

MORGAN: And usually her instincts are right. So even when she's behaving in a loony manner, actually, you kind of go with it, because you think there's something about her. Her intuition is amazing.

DANES: Yes. And she has no patience for any of this bureaucratic nonsense. She's not playing some superficial game. She really does seriously want to find the bad guy and protect her country. That's her ambition.

And it's not -- it's not political. And it's -- So I admire that about her. I think people kind of tolerate her recklessness and her abrasiveness, because kind of sense that too.

MORGAN: You've actually met some of the female CIA operatives, including a woman who went to Iraq.

DANES: Yes.

MORGAN: Which is parallel to some of the stuff in the actual show. What was that like? What was she like? Are they anything like the character you're portraying?.

(CROSS TALK)

DANES: Slightly more composed.

MORGAN: I always imagined they'd have to be slightly --

DANES: I do think they have a sense of adventurousness and kind of bad assness ,for lack of a better word. But we met. We had lunch. And I was very struck by how quietly she spoke. She was incredibly inconspicuous, you know, so ingrained her. And she would not call attention to herself.

And that was my first impression. And then we went to Langley. We had our little field trip to CIA headquarters, which was totally fascinating and wild.

MORGAN: What was it like? I've never been there.

DANES: Well, they put you through a fairly intense security system, a gauntlet. But, you know, it was kind of -- she was very chummy with people in the halls, and there was something very communal. And I think they have very specific, difficult lives. And there aren't many people they can relate to.

So I think it's a very insular world. They often marry each other. They're kind of like actors. You know, they're away from home all the time. They're having these experiences that they can't quite communicate to other -- they're not allowed to in a lot of ways. But there's something very isolating about that.

MORGAN: And lonely. You're right about that. But obviously there is the classic, you know, these bad guys are Muslims, and they want to do evil to our country. Does any of that concern you? Have you had any backlash? The more successful the show has got, that that kind of issue becomes very, oh, ok, better be careful here?

DANES: I just finished filming. So I've been really cloistered in Charlotte, where we've been, in Charlotte, North Carolina, where we're shooting. So I'm now just reemerging into the world and discovering people's reactions to the show, which have been very favorable, which is great.

MORGAN: The most successful Showtime show in eight years.

DANES: It's really exciting. And I'm so pleased. But it's wonderfully murky.

MORGAN: It is murky. And the twists and turns -- anyone who is not watching it has got to get into this, because it is superbly made television. You've done lots of different acting in your time. This kind of thing is becoming more and more attractive to really good actors, whether it's shows like "The Killing" or "Madmen," all these things, not on network, without the pressure that brings for huge ratings.

You can make a very different kind of thing. How exciting is that for you from an acting point?

DANES: It's wonderful. I mean, the quality of writing on the show is just so excellent. If I have a chance to work with material of this caliber, I will, in any medium, on the Internet, I mean, on the sidewalk.

But no, it's true. I think cable has created this whole new environment that is incredibly fertile and appealing to actors.

MORGAN: Let's take a little break. When we come back, I want to talk to you about the fact you became this huge star at 14, and then you dated a succession of undesirable Americans, before finally and quite rightly, finding true love with a Brit.

DANES: Yes.

MORGAN: Good for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you're about to do it, OK, what would you want the other person to say, like right before?

DANES: This won't take long.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, seriously.

DANES: Don't I know you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, for real. Like, like romantic.

DANES: You're so beautiful. It hurts to look at you. (END VIDEO CLIP)

DANES: That was Claire Danes in 1994 in her breakout TV hit "My So Called Life" that earned her a golden globe, 14 years old. There you were, rocketed into superstardom.

DANES: I was very little. It's true.

MORGAN: I always imagine, if I had been 14 and became a huge star, I would love it. I mean, good fun? Terrifying?

DANES: Yeah. No, it was exciting. I moved out with my parents from New York to L.A. to do "My So Called Life," which was just a joy. I was so fortunate to have that be my initial experience, because people I was working with were incredibly smart and responsible and created a very, very safe environment for me.

But my family and I were so green. We couldn't have been more so. We were totally overwhelmed. When I won the Golden Globe, I didn't know what the Golden Globes were. Honestly. I was just -- you know, just --

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: Is it true you actually had your first kiss on screen rather than for real? Is that true?

DANES: No, that's not true. But I mean, I wasn't -- I wasn't wildly experienced.

MORGAN: You then made "Romeo and Juliet" with a certain relatively unknown actor. Let's take a little look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEONARDO DICAPRIO, ACTOR: Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purged.

DANES: And have my lips -- what they have took.

DICAPRIO: Sin from my lips, I will trespass sweetly urged. Give me my sin again.

DANES: You kiss by the book.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: So there you are with Leonardo Dicaprio in his early incarnation.

DANES: Yes, that was a great gig. That was a great experience. We shot in Mexico City with Baz Luhrmann, the director, who is such a visionary and so wildly imaginative in it. Such a genius.

MORGAN: Talking of being a genius, you then turned down "Titanic." Is this true? DANES: It wasn't overtly offered to me. I was in the running. But, you know, I had just filmed "Romeo and Juliet" with in Leo in Mexico. We were going to shoot "Titanic" in Mexico with Leo. I thought, really, like another epic romance. I just did that. I was a little exhausted.

No, I mean, it really did seem very reminiscent of this last --

MORGAN: So you're exhaustion was Kate Winslet's great moment.

DANES: Yeah, and you know what --

MORGAN: I hope she's thankful.

DANES: I think she's just so wonderful in that. And I really do think that, you know, some things are meant to be. It's fine. I mean, she's brilliant. And, you know, so, yes, it was not my turn.

MORGAN: Another strange thing you did --

DANES: Why do we talk about all the strange things I've done.

MORGAN: Why not? You are I think delightfully strange. We'll come to the most delightfully strange bit in a moment, when you marry a Brit. But at the peak of your power, you just walk away and go to Yale.

DANES: The peak of my power, that sounds very dramatic. You know, it's true. I did have suddenly a lot of success, but I had no idea how to apply it or how to focus it. I really had a very kind of amorphous, kind of pudgy, unformed sense of who I was.

So -- and I hadn't gone to high school in a conventional way. I was kind of lonely for my peers. And I needed to just step away and kind of answer some of those pertinent questions before I could move on.

MORGAN: You then leave Yale after two years to get back into the movies. It sucked you back in.

DANES: It did. I think -- I mean, I didn't act for about three years in total. And I kind of naively assume that had I could do both. I could be a full time student at that particular school and -- and keep up the same pace in my acting career as I had previously. And that was just -- you know, I thought, oh, I'll do a movie a summer.

But I kind of forgot that there's a lot of work that goes into getting work. And I just wasn't available to do that. And also this business is so erratic. Of course, whatever movie was going to happen in the summer would move into the fall.

So I took some semesters off. It just got sloppy. I realized I really needed to really commit to one or the other. And I also felt sated and fulfilled. I had a wonderful time at school. I was such a nerd. You know, I was. I was. I was so nerdy. I was very nerdy. MORGAN: Really?

DANES: Yes. But -- but, you know, and I also kind of drank disgusting beer and played video games.

MORGAN: What else did you get into?

DANES: Well, I had a very -- I had a steady boyfriend at the time. So -- and I also got to, you know, exercise my mind in a different way, which was fantastic. And then I kind of was sort of like, all right, I'm ready to go act again.

MORGAN: Has it been -- is it, to this day, still the thing that you love? Do you love it?

DANES: I do. I love it. I love it so much -- so, so much. I mean, I complain about it a lot. It's terrifying. It's exhausting, you know. Sometimes I dread going to set, but it's because I care so much about it.

MORGAN: What about your fame? Because as you get more famous, and "Homeland" isn't going to help -- it's going to make you -- I know you've said before, you come out of the elevator, you dread the thought of paparazzi and all that kind of thing. Have you got better at dealing with that?

DANES: Paparazzi are difficult. I mean, it does -- it does wax and wane. And there are these fallow periods when I'm of no interest and it's fantastic, totally blissful. But, yeah, there are other times when suddenly you do capture the public's imagination. And yeah, sometimes you're like in your yucky sweats and you're kind of feeling -- you've got a cold, and you're like going to buy --

MORGAN: But it makes us all feel so much better, you see? Seeing somebody like you, Claire, in your mucky sweats with a snotty nose, it just makes us feel better.

DANES: It's very embarrassing. But the spoils of my work are so wonderful that I can't bring myself to complain in any real way about that. And when people do approach me, they're typically incredibly kind and respectful and gracious. So, yeah.

MORGAN: Let's take another break and come back to what I really wanted to talk to you about, but forgot, which is your British husband.

DANES: OK.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me? I'm your roommate. What are you doing?

DANES: It's a machine I just made! Feels like a hug. Do you want a hug? It feels really good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Claire Danes as Tendril Grandon (ph) on HBO, a woman with Asperger's Syndrome. You got an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award for that performance. You've racked up some awards, haven't you?

DANES: That was an intense run. That was very, very flattering and very overwhelming, and great.

MORGAN: But the biggest achievement, by far, as far as I'm concerned, is your selection of a life partner.

DANES: I think you're right about that.

MORGAN: Because you met and fell in love on the set of a movie, obviously, with a dashing, handsome British actor.

DANES: I scored.

MORGAN: Hugh Dancy. Tell me about this.

DANES: I scored.

MORGAN: Was it love at first British sight?

DANES: Um, no. I mean, we were very good friends. And then we were even better friends. No, it was kind of incremental. And I just had come out of a relationship, and so I was very excited about being single, because I'd never been single, and I was thinking -- I have kind of boasting about it like, you know. And then I just fell in love, you know, immediately! Again.

MORGAN: Was it just the accent, or --

MORGAN: It didn't hurt. But, no, he's the best person I know. And, yeah, he's just great.

MORGAN: And you've been married what, two years now?

DANES: Yes, two years.

MORGAN: Spent any of that time together or was it basically --

DANES: We've been really fortunate, actually, in the formative stages of our courtship, of our relationship, we -- our schedules were kind of amazingly compatible. Lately, we've not been so lucky. I've been, obviously, filming a series, and he's doing a play in New York right now. So he's stationed there.

But we talk a lot. We text a lot. We send each other photos of our toes. I mean, I don't know.

MORGAN: Your toes?

DANES: I don't know. Dumb stuff. We try to make it --

(CROSS TALK)

DANES: I think it's dangerous when you go into a reporting mode, when you just kind of list the things you've done that day. Sometimes you just have to act as if you're with each other and not say anything terribly significant.

MORGAN: Who gets the more jealous about the love scenes the other ones have to do?

DANES: It's miserable. We're both lousy at it.

MORGAN: You really went for it with Damian Lewis. That castle, my God!

DANES: Yeah.

MORGAN: All I could think about was, poor Hugh!

DANES: I know, it's not fun. It's not! It's very uncomfortable.

MORGAN: Does he hate it? I would.

DANES: It's not a great pastime to watch your partner macking with some, like, hot person.

MORGAN: Especially when he's also British.

DANES: Yeah. No, no -- but, it's fine. It's fine. We trust each other totally. But we have to talk about it, because it's -- it's just unnatural and unpleasant.

MORGAN: It is, isn't it?

DANES: It is. And that's OK. That's just kind of the yucky reality. But it's fine. And, again, we both get it. We understand.

MORGAN: Given you're so ludicrously busy, how are you going to find time for little Claire Danes to run around, or little Hughs? Do you want to yet?

DANES: Yes -- eventually, I'd love that. I'm not quite there yet.

MORGAN: Getting broody yet?

DANES: Look at you, pokey, pokey McGee.

MORGAN: The only reason I'm asking you is that my wife recently gave birth, so I'm sort of covered in diaper chatter at the moment. So it seemed the natural thing to go there. Nothing pokey, pokey about it. See how I used that shamelessly?

DANES: We'll see. We'll see. One day. One day, for sure. MORGAN: So what's left, "Homeland," presumably there will be another series of "Homeland," right?

DANES: We're doing another season.

MORGAN: Oh, you are?

DANES: Yes, yes, yes. We start in May.

MORGAN: And it's going to be a gripping cliff-hanger. You obviously don't die, because you're already doing another season.

DANES: No, but --

MORGAN: Does somebody die?

DANES: Does somebody die? I'm not telling you.

MORGAN: Does Saul die?

DANES: Does Saul die? No, Saul makes it out alive with all fingers and toes in tact.

MORGAN: Well, it is the best thing on television. I absolutely love it. It's been a pleasure to meet you.

DANES: Nice to meet you too.

MORGAN: And send my regards to your handsome British husband. Tell him to come on any time and talk about the toe pictures, which I didn't even know you could do.

DANES: The toe pictures.

MORGAN: See how it easy it is to get that stuff out there?

DANES: Yes.

MORGAN: Seriously, thank you.

DANES: Thank you.

MORGAN: That's Claire Danes. And that's all for us right now. "A.C. 360" starts right now.