May 22, 2013 | By Patrick Gomez
As Scarlett O’Connor on Nashville, Clare Bowen portrays the quintessential country crooner with a heart of gold, but the reality of the actress and singer’s life may surprise you. The Australian native (yes, that’s right) has come to be known for her character’s folksy duets with costar Sam Palladio (who plays Gunnar Scott) like “When the Right One Comes Along.” Leading in to Wednesday’s finale, Bowen, 24, talks to PEOPLE about her accent, moving to the States, and what’s next for the just-signed Scarlett.
I have a friend who says “When the Right One Comes Along” is going to be her wedding song.
Oh my goodness – I’ve heard a few people say that and it is the most flattering thing!
This role seems tailor-made for you, aside for having to change your accent…
It was my favorite accent. I learned it from the films that my dad brought home from Los Angeles when I was a kid. I would watch The Sounds of the South and copy the way they sounded. When I read the script and I saw Callie [Khouri] and T-Bone [Burnett]’s names on it and that ABC was doing it – it was these three superpowers that have joined forces. I read the character and just asked, “Can I go in for her, please?” To be given Scarlett was the biggest privilege. It is a dream come true.
So you learned from watching movies?
I learn everything by ear. It’s something I’ve been able to do since I was a kid, coincidentally enough. It’s just so much fun. The Southern dialects are so beautiful and musical. They’re like the Irish – they lilt and there’s music right though the dialect. I think it’s inherent to the show. It is very fitting.
Are fans surprised when they hear your actual Australian accent?
Some of them are! Other times I will forget and I’ll still be in Scarlett mode. It’s a funny little change in the shape of the inside of your mouth and sometimes I don’t know I’m doing it. My friends will look at me and laugh.
How’s life been since moving to the States?
There is certainly something to be said for Southern hospitality. I’ve been welcomed with open arms and that’s just the most wonderful thing. An Australian coming to the States – we all speak the same language, but then again we don’t, so to be welcomed so beautifully has been a great privilege. I’m very grateful. I hadn’t spent much time [in the U.S.] at all. I’m still exploring and I have to go on a few road trips.
Where you want to visit in the States?
Oh my goodness. I really want to go and see Sedona. Everywhere! Oh gosh. There are so many wonderful places that I want to visit – Alabama, Memphis … I have to go to Mississippi because that’s where Scarlett is from. I haven’t had time to get there because we’ve been so busy doing this amazing show.
And how is living in Nashville?
Nashville is the perfect place for a show called Nashville, funnily enough [laughs]. It’s the heart of the place and that brings magic to the show. We have so many small businesses that have become attached to the show, and the locals are so, so happy to have us there. It’s the best thing for the show and I’m so glad they made the decision to film it on site.
What’s it like to film the soapy side of the show? Scarlett has gone from Avery to Gunnar over the course of the season and things seem up in the air for the finale.
It’s not that far from the truth for a lot of us – these unexpected things happen. It’s like the song “When the Right One Comes Along” – there’s no big bang. It just happens, and often at the most inconvenient of times. And then they might not be the right person. That’s the way Callie writes. She’s very, very true to life and nothing in life is black and white. It is all grey-scale and could go anywhere, so please expect the unexpected because we are bringing it to you. Believe me.