Claire Danes used to have a ''phobia of girls''.

The 'Homeland' actress - who has four-year-old son Cyrus with husband Hugh Dancy - struggled to fit in when she attended a ''really progressive'' school that lacked structure and admitted her experiences made her mistrustful of female friendships.

She recalled of her school days: ''I think the kids compensated for [the lack of structure] by creating a really strong social structure. It was cliquey as eff. That was hard for me.

''[My friend there] knew how critical it was to remain discreet and inconspicuous and, for some reason, I just didn't know how essential that was.

''I would get targeted, I think because I was a little too myself, maybe? I don't know, too expressive or something? I just retreated and became pretty isolated.''

But the 37-year-old star overcame her worries when she enrolled in Yale university in 1998 to study psychology and now has a close group of female pals who meet for a monthly book club and loves being around them.

She told Harper's Bazaar magazine: ''They all do their different things. One's a therapist, one is a doctor and one is a graphic designer We could be a great non-profit organisation. I don't know what I would offer though.

''Really it's an excuse to be amongst each other... There's an energy shift when it's all women. It feels so replenishing.

''I mean, I love men, obviously, but it feels really good.

''I think we do start talking a little differently. We're allowed to say we have certain grievances, that we've had a hard time because we're women. It's also just really fun.''