Risky busi­ness

A gam­ble is pay­ing off for Claire van der Boom, write Colin Vick­ery Dar­ren Dev­lyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

WHEN Claire van der Boom quit Rush to go to the US at the end of 2008, some thought she was crazy.

Most Aussie ac­tors work for years be­fore they even think of try­ing their luck in Hol­ly­wood.

Van der Boom chose to base her­self in Los An­ge­les af­ter less than 12 months on the Chan­nel 10 ac­tion drama.

For many cyn­ics, it was an ad­ven­ture cer­tain to end in dis­ap­point­ment. Surely, they thought, a hu­mil­i­ated van der Boom would be back home within months.

Some­how, van der Boom has man­aged to con­jure suc­cess in the US and Aus­tralia a mere three years af­ter tak­ing the big­gest risk of her life.

Last year was a mon­ster year for the 27-year-old, who shone in wildly dis­parate roles in US mini-se­ries The Pa­cific and the ABC’s Sis­ters of War.

Van der Boom also landed a re­cur­ring role in Hawaii Five-O and is set to star op­po­site Josh Hart­nett in Roland Joffe’s (The Killing Fields) big-bud­get US movie Sin­gu­lar­ity.

In Aus­tralia, she stars in Un­der­belly: The Man Who Got Away and has a guest role on City Homi­cide.

‘‘ I wake up in Los An­ge­les and pinch my­self that I’m giv­ing it a go,’’ van der Boom says. ‘‘ It (leav­ing Rush to go to the US) was pretty con­tro­ver­sial at the time.’’

Van der Boom ad­mits that 2009 was the tough­est year of her life. If there was any glam­our in Hol­ly­wood, she wasn’t see­ing it.

‘‘ I was nan­ny­ing and get­ting up at 6am to drive out to Mal­ibu to work at a re­hab cen­tre,’’ she says.

‘‘ I was so ex­hausted deal­ing with that world and a car that was break­ing down.

‘‘ I started won­der­ing what I was do­ing in LA with­out my fam­ily. I’d get on the phone to my par­ents and they would go, ‘ Are you OK? You know you can come home and do nurs­ing. We’ll sup­port you if you want to go back to univer­sity. When is this go­ing to stop?’ ’’

Van der Boom kept the faith, even though the end­less au­di­tions started to un­der­mine her con­fi­dence.

‘‘ In Amer­ica you’re ex­pected to go in there and hit it be­cause they’ve got 400 other peo­ple com­ing through. They know in the first 20 sec­onds if you’re right for the role.

‘‘ Ini­tially I put a lot of pres­sure on my­self to get it (the au­di­tion) right. Then I re­alised I had to let it go.

‘‘ It’s out of your con­trol. It (re­jec­tion) lit­er­ally could be be­cause you’re too tall for the lead­ing guy.’’

Un­der­belly: The Man Who Got Away shows a dif­fer­ent side of van der Boom. She plays Clelia Vigano, the daugh­ter of re­spectable Mel­bourne restau­ra­teurs, who hooks up with drug traf­ficker David McMil­lan (Toby Sch­mitz).

The pair are a 1970s ver­sion of Bon­nie and Clyde, juiced up on heroin, rolling in money, search­ing for thrills.

McMil­lan and Vigano’s au­dac­ity made them a tar­get for the po­lice, who set up the Op­er­a­tion Aries task­force.

The dream turned into a night­mare and Vigano was sent to Fair­lea Women’s Prison, where she died in a fire in 1982.

‘‘ They were both adrenalin junkies. They didn’t know where the brakes were,’’ van der Boom says. ‘‘ What I could re­late to most was her sense of fun and her need to have it.

‘‘ I strive to live life to the fullest, but use in­stinct to pull back when needed.’’

Sch­mitz plays McMil­lan, who as a stu­dent at Mel­bourne’s Caulfield Gram­mar was renowned for his flair and in­tel­lect.

As a boy, he hosted the Ju­nior News show on Chan­nel 9. In his teens, it be­came ob­vi­ous con­form­ity was not for him and that he would be­come a se­ri­ous risk-taker.

He tried to smug­gle hashish from In­dia in an old ra­dio and was let off with a warn­ing when busted by a cus­toms of­fi­cer.

‘‘ He was ad­dicted to smuggling, ad­dicted to feel­ing fear,’’ Sch­mitz says. ‘‘ This is re­ally an ‘ at large’ tele­movie – a bit of catch me if you can.’’ Un­der­belly: The Man Who Got Away, Chan­nel 9, Mon­day 8.30pm

Kept the faith: Claire van der Boom is find­ing suc­cess in the US and Aus­tralia.

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