“Everything is just bigger in the U.S.,” Australian beauty Clare Bowen says, reflecting on the time she’s spent working here. “Australia has a great film and television industry, but it’s very gritty. But in America, the possibilities are just wild.”
And Bowen is taking full advantage of those possibilities. Whether it’s starring as the angelic singer/songwriter Scarlett in ABC’s “Nashville,” or the tough Civil War-survivor Martha in “Dead Man’s Burden,” which opened on Friday, Bowen’s showed she has range well beyond her years. She’s even found time in-between projects to start work on her own solo album.
Here, Bowen shares her tips for making the transition into the American entertainment industry, how to balance research and character, and the importance of staying true to your own process.
Find a home base when auditioning.
“Finding your way around a new city for the first time is always a hard,” says Bowen, who herself tackled L.A. a little over a year and a half ago. “But finding your way around a new city at the same time while you’re trying to do pilot season? That’s crazy.” The challenge for Bowen was less about trying to navigate L.A.’s complicated traffic system, and more about having a home base. “When you’re trying to work on multiple characters when you’re going for castings, you need a place where you’re grounded,” she says. “You need a place where you can think and get situated.”
Remember, casting directors want to find you.
“People get really nervous in auditions…like they have some sort of inferiority complex,” Bowen says, thinking back to her first auditions in the States. “And it’s like, ‘No no no, they really want to find you!’ When you walk into that room, they want you to be the one.” Bowen says remembering that always helps calm her nerves. “That’s what they’re looking for!”
Do some research, but don’t let it define your characters.
For her role in “Dead Man’s Burden,” Bowen spent a fair amount of time researching the film’s setting: 1870 post-Civil War fragmented America. “We don’t learn about it in Australian schools,” she explained, “So I did a certain amount of research to get a basis for what was going on in my character’s life.” Ultimately, though, Bowen didn’t allow her character, Martha, to be defined by the history books. “She is suffering incredible trauma,” she says. “And it’s not about some political venture. It’s not about being a confederate; it’s not about slavery; it’s not about politics of The South. It’s about her family, and the limits to which they push her. She’s just trying to survive.”