From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
Claire Danes has spent the past several months on the Charlotte, N.C., set of her new Showtime series Homeland, and she's overwhelmed to be back home in New York City. On her agenda? Dinner with her brother, and the next day, a quiet morning learning lines. But she's also excited for much-needed girl talk. "I'm starting to pine for my friends, and when I see them, the reports are shocking!" she says in between bites of salad with shrimp at Peels, a downtown eatery. "We're married, they're having babies, and we look at each other like, 'What is happening?'"

The past two years of milestone-hitting should answer her question: The actress who first shot to fame as a teen in the '90s cult series My So-Called Life isn't a kid anymore. After marrying actor Hugh Dancy in 2009, Danes won a slew of awards for her portrayal of an autistic animal expert in the HBO film Temple Grandin before landing the role of a bipolar CIA agent in the critically acclaimed Homeland. Yet despite all her success, "it's still occurring to me that I'm a grown-up," says Danes, 32. "But I have more of a clue who I am."

When she's not on-set, Danes relishes her weekends with Dancy at their country house in upstate New York, perusing farmers' markets, trying new recipes and playing with their schnauzer-poodle mix Weegee. She is also a member of a book club, the Litwits, with her girlfriends. "In the last year my contributions have been [books] about bipolar disorder and the CIA," she says, laughing. "They say, 'Great, Claire's turn. Fascinating."

Next up? Long-awaited time off to relax ("I might check myself into an asylum-no, a spa," she says with a grin) and maybe, soon, a baby. "No plans," she says, "but that would be fun." And very grown-up.