Flight of fancy
Claire van der Boom found playing a young Diane Keaton a scary but challenging experience,
Claire van der Boom is a reluctant name dropper, but the high profile connections she has established over six long and sometimes hard years living and working in the US are beginning to pay dividends.
Playing Sam Shepard’s granddaughter in the TV pilot Tough Trade (2010) gave the thirty-something West Australian a foot in the door when the legendary US playwright recast the offBroadway production of his new play Heartless. (Her audition did the rest.)
And van der Boom’s performance as a younger version of Diane Keaton in the autumnal romance 5 Flights Up (opening across Australia today) led directly to a role in the dark romantic drama Battlecreek, directed by Clint Eastwood’s daughter Alison.
“I really shy away from the word ‘networking’,’’ says van der Boom, who made her big screen breakthrough in the Edgerton brothers’ 2008 crime drama The Square.
“I feel a bit gross about making those connections and I have never really actively done it. But I think my work ethic is pretty good to be asked to work with the same people again and again.”
Van der Boom’s most recent project, a well-received LA stage production of The Trouble We Came From, was written by her Hawaii Five-0 co-star Scott Caan.
“In between takes (of the successful TV reboot) we’d sit in one of the trailers and read through his plays,’’ says the actress, who plays Caan’s exwife in the CBS crime series.
It was van der Boom’s first theatre role since a 12-month stint in New York in 2012, which also saw her cast in a new work by renowned American playwright David Rabe ( An Early History of Fire).
“The stage is definitely where I am most terrified and most excited,’’ she says.
Playing Keaton as a young woman also came with its own very specific set of challenges.
In order to prepare, Van der boom immersed herself in Keaton’s back catalogue – from serious dramas such as The Godfather and Looking For Mr Goodbar to the Oscarnominee’s career-defining role in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and more recent comedies such as Something’s Gotta Give.
“I wanted to find the through-line of her mannerisms and where her nervous system lies,’’ van der Boom says.
“Diane is innately Diane. (Playing her) was such a beautiful lesson for me in terms of just being brave and bold with showing who you are.re.
“It wasn’t so much ch mimicking her as understanding the spirit of who she is because it comes mes through in all her work.”
In the lead-up to her own performance, Van der boom spent a week on set watching Keaton collaborate with co-star Morgan Freeman.
The 69-year-old screen icon’s ensuing vote of confidence came as a great relief.
“She was very complimentary, whichhich obviously meant a great deal,’’ says van der Boom. “It’s scary playing someone real — especially when they are in front of you.”
In 5 Flights Up, Keaton and Freeman’s characters have lived together in the same Brooklyn apartment for four decades. Van der boom’s nomadic lifestyle, on the other hand, has made it quite difficult to put down roots.
Although a recent, extended sojourn in California has allowed her to do exactly that — by planting her very first vegie garden.
“I am so proud of my tomatoes and my herbs and my kale, but I am at that point now where I can’t plant anything else,” she says.
Van der boom is currently packing her bags for Atlanta where she is about to start work on the new NBC TV drama
Game Of Silence, about an lawyer whose rising career is threatened by a childhood secret.
Written by Dave Hudgins ( Friday Nights), the first season has been greenlit by NBC on the back of a successful pilot episode. Filming will continue until Christmas.
“It will be the longest running job I have had for eight years,’’ says van der Boom.
“Financially, it’s a nice gift. It will be nice to pay the rent easily for a while.
Adding to her sense of security is a new relationship with a fellow thespian (he’s American but that’s all she’s revealing today.)
“People say actors shouldn’t be with actors, but it’s wonderful when you both have these little pockets of time when you are both not working,’’ van der Boom says.
“And you also understand those 16 hour days — although we have this rule that we don’t go more than three weeks without seeing each other.”
In previous relationships, the strain of those extended periods spent apart due to work commitments has proven something of a deal breaker.
“I have been in the position where I have felt like I have had to choose — to stay stable and really nurture my relationship or continue to travel and follow my aspirations,’’ she says. “But at the moment I feel very supported with all of that.”
“It wasn’t so much mimicking her as understanding the spirit of who she is”
VAN DER BOOM ON PLAYING KEATON