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Interview - Claire van der Boom

By Sean Lynch
Interview with Claire van der Boom
Star of The Square

The Square : Claire Van Der Boom

Claire Van Der Boom
gets nasty in The Square

Claire Van Der Boom

The Square : Claire Van Der Boom

Claire Van Der Boom
on set with Joel & Nash
Edgerton and Anthony Hayes

In a country where good acting roles are few and far between, there seems to be one shining light - Claire Van Der Boom.

Don't let the Dutch name fool you, she is 100% Aussie and her star is on the rise with roles in the much hyped Aussie drama Rush, the Tom Hanks epic The Pacific and a much talked about role of a young hairdresser having an affair with an older man in the new Australian film The Square.

Sean Lynch caught up with the amazingly cute Broome-born Van Der Boom mere weeks before she heads off to conquer the USA.

Thanks for taking the time Claire, how many of these interviews have you reeled off today?

You're the second! So I still have heaps of energy!

You're giving me the journalistic equivalent of sloppy seconds Claire! That's disgusting, what a way to start the day!!

[Laughs] I wouldn't dare give you those, don't worry [Laughs].

Well I can understand you're excitement, this is your feature film debut - and better still - it's actually a really, really good movie...

First feature! Yeah. I couldn't have asked to work with better people, it was just a joy.

... plus it's an Australian movie that isn't about heroin addicts for once!

[Laughs] I know! The Square does get quite dark, but it laughs at itself as well. I think it's quite a cathartic thing to watch because of the ridiculousness of the situation this guy gets into.

It took me a while to understand it. I mean, I had to take it seriously, because I was playing this woman in this sinister world - even though she is quite naive to a lot of it - but you can't play it for the Cohen brothers sort of black comedy. You have to play it for what it is, which is the reality of someone in that situation.

But it's kind of beautiful to see that you can still come out and laugh at the, uh, conundrum [Laughs].

Well the movie plays out as essentially the worst day possible for someone..

[Laughs] I think it's over a couple of weeks, but it's definitely a bad year for him [Laughs].

[Laughs] Personally, is that something you can draw on? What is the worst day you've ever had - or have you been pretty lucky so far?

My mother would tell you if you don't feed me breakfast that my blood sugar level drops, and if my blood sugar level drops I'll start stomping a bit and I'll start walking into walls. I can be a bit of a klutz, so it often spirals in that sense...

That sounds like it's more of a hassle for you're mum than for you!

[Laughs] I think she's just humoured by it now, I've been like that since I was four [Laughs].

What makes The Square stand out is that it mirrors a true sense of Australian life - not a stereotype. But the one thing I couldn't get past was how an attractive lady like yourself ends up with an on screen boyfriend who is essentially a 'Ranga with a Mullet'...

[Laughs] Anthony Hayes, in real life is a completely charming, intelligent, wonderful man. So it's not tough to look at those eyes and see there is a beautiful density there...

There's a man behind the mullet...

[Laughs] There's a man behind that mullet! Definitely. And that hairy, lovely chest [Laughs].

I think he is such a charming guy, and I think that comes through in his work. And you don't really see that in the film, you don't get a great deal of backstory into the darkness - or the possible darkness - of their relationship. So if people see that she could be torn [between her boyfriend and the affair with another man], that she could stay with him - that's not a bad thing either.

The Square is something of a pet project for writer/director Nash [Edgerton] who the public might not know that well, but he has been a big fixture behind the scenes of the industry for quite some time [often as a stuntman].

And even on this film, he's pretty much done everything except the catering. Did you ever want to go up to him at any point and just go "Hey Nash, You're not pulling you're weight - stop slacking off and make me dinner!!"

[Laughs] What can I say about that? He is the hardest working person I've ever met. I swear he has about three hours sleep [Laughs]. I was just in awe of how much he did, but I don't think he could ever stand back and watch somebody else do it. He has a directors eye, so of course he was going to co-edit it if only to see his vision the whole way through.

And I think that's why he pulled in friends as well. He uses the same crew and people he's worked with over the years because they know just to let him run.

Well that seems to be the thing with the film industry. Is it the case, much like Will Ferrell movies, that once you're part of "the group" you're part of it for life? That you're guaranteed a job if someone else has a job going?

Not at all, because I think those boys [Nash & Joel Edgerton] are going to go onto incredible things and I think that perhaps  it might start to change for them maybe. I think this was very much a "family project" and in that sense it was beautiful to be a part of - but I think it might be a one off.

Well I suppose at the very least you got to work with Bill Hunter, who I believe is contracted by Federal law to appear in every Australian film...

Yeah! [Laughs]. He is a very, very cool guy.

He's like an Australian Gordon Ramsay - just whipping out swear words like no other...

[Laughs] I know, how good does he make them sound! [Laughs]

Apart from The Square you are quite busy with [the Tom Hanks / Steven Spielberg production] The Pacific and the big budget Channel 10 drama Rush. What are those experiences like compared to anything else you've done?

In terms of budget [for The Pacific] it is. You'd open you're 1930s original wallet and there would be original lace gloves, and original diaries with diary entries from the character. I mean the detail was just mind blowing, and just seeing how the big budget American productions work - it was just amazing.

And I was very, very lucky not to have left our shores to work on a big American production. Because I know, if I was in America, I could be pouring beers in a dirty jazz bar waiting years to get my foot in the door on a HBO series in LA...

You're being pretty specific there, is there something your not telling me Claire? [Laughs]

[Guiltily Laughs] I've actually just got my Green Card - so fate has pointed its hand... that way.

Towards the Jazz Bar and HBO...

[Laughs] Well...you know... Jazz is good [Laughs]. One night in a jazz bar once a week in between a great job would be great [Laughs].

Well it's a daunting decision to make, and a decision which a lot of Aussie actors are making at the moment. What is it that gives you the motivation to say "Right, I'm packing up and leaving"?

It literally was the Green Card, I had forgotten I had applied for it, went for the interview a couple of weeks ago and received it and the way that it works is that it's a "Residency Visa" which basically means you have to live there.

So that's why I kind of need to take a deep breath, be brave, jump on a plane by myself and see if my hearts in it over there...

You'll be awesome, don't worry...

[Laughs] Ah you're lovely! [Laughs]

Back to Rush, it's shaping up to be one of the big shows of the year - what can we expect from it?

It's an action show, it doesn't sit in interview rooms, it's kind of like a SWAT-like team but they are meant to be using their brains instead of their guns. It's a negotiation unit, so there are hostage situations and suicide interventions...

So you don't even get to shoot a gun??

Not yet!

That's the whole fun of doing a cop show!

[Laughs] Well, we hold them a lot, and we learnt how to use them. I think it's wonderful to do that stuff, because you realise that it's very scary - because they are all over America. And, whooo, they've got some kick [Laughs].

Well, speaking of guns - and not to give anything away about the ending of The Square (so stop reading if you haven't seen the film yet)... but... being shot in the head. Do you sit at home in front of the mirror the night before going "Alright, how am I going to make this look believable?" as it's one of the few things you can't "Method Act".

And I have to say - it's one of the best shots in the head I've ever seen...

[Laughs] Yeah, I can't tell you the magic trick behind it - I might be murdered for it.

But it was a pretty stressful process to get the right "viscosity" of the brain [Laughs].

Because if you slow that scene down... it's still impressive. You can put that thing in slow motion and it still looks like you've been shot in the head. You just have to trust yourself that you can nail yourself in one take [Laughs].

THE SQUARE is in cinemas from JULY 31st, 2008

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