Claire Danes walked away from the chance to reunite with her Romeo + Juliet co-star Leonardo DiCaprio for last year's J. Edgar to take the lead in Homeland.

The actress auditioned for the role of secretary Helen Gandy in the movie about former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover on the same weekend she was offered the opportunity to star as CIA officer Carrie Mathison.

However, she opted for the TV drama because the part was so "compelling".

Speaking to Britain's GQ magazine, she said: "Seven years, it's a long-a** time. But I was thinking about it, like, I could think of it as a prison sentence, or I could think of it as an insurance. Every year I'm going to have something really compelling to do.

"I remember, it came up on the same weekend that I had read for the secretary role on that J. Edgar movie and I was like, 'Do I want to play the secretary to some really compelling person, or do I just wanna play the f***ing compelling person'."

Naomi Watts landed the role of Gandy in the film, which featured DiCaprio as Hoover.