Claire channels a young Diane Keaton

08 October, 2013 by Don Groves

Claire van der Boom. Photo credit: David Cook. 


When Claire van der Boom auditioned for the role of a younger version of Diane Keaton’s character in the US movie Life Itself, the director told her she was the only one who didn’t try to impersonate Keaton as Annie Hall in the classic Woody Allen movie.

That was the clincher and the Los Angeles-based Australian actress started shooting the film directed by Englishman Richard Loncraine (Wimbledon, My One and Only) in New York last week.

Adapted from Jill Ciment’s novel Heroic Measures, the film stars Keaton and Morgan Freeman as Ruth and Alex, a couple whose life is disrupted when the East Village apartment where they lived for 40 years is put up for sale, a bidding war ensues and Manhattan falls under a terrorism threat.

Claire plays Ruth as she meets Alex, an artist, when she models for his paintings. Ruth risks alienating her family by entering into a mixed race marriage but she accepts that risk. The actress researched the role by watching Keaton’s early films such as Annie Hall and reading her autobiography Then Again: A Memoir by Diane Keaton.

She formed an impression of Keaton as “self-deprecating and goofy, someone who says something before she thinks,” which was borne out when they met at a read-through. Keaton has been “incredibly supportive,” Claire told IF on the line from Los Angeles during a break in filming, which she will resume next week.

In December van der Boom will start work on her third indie US film this year, romantic drama Dear Jen, the feature writing and directing debut of Stephen Suettinger. Shot in Maryland, the film will follow Owen (Bryan Greenberg), a vending machine proprietor who undergoes tough times after he falls off a roof, his marriage breaks up and he loses his parents. Claire plays Vera, a bank teller and fellow divorcee who brings warmth and light back into his life.

Earlier this year she shot Dear Eleanor, a road movie directed by Kevin Connolly, about two teenage girls (Isabelle Fuhrman, Liana Liberato) who set off across the country in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis in search of Eleanor Roosevelt, the widow of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

She played the wife of Luke Wilson’s character, the parents of one of the teens. She was offered the job at very short notice after the actress who had the role dropped out. “I caught a 9 pm flight to Colorado, read the script on the plane and started filming at 8am the next day,” she says.

Capping off a productive year, she appears in Low Life, an upcoming six-part web series described as a comedy about depression, directed by Aussie Luke Eve and written by Adam Grossetti.

The NIDA graduate who has been based in Los Angeles since the end of 2009, is represented in Australia by United Management. Her credits include two seasons in US TV’s Hawaii Five-0, The Pacific, the movies Red Hill and The Square and TV series City Homicide, Underbelly, Rush and Love My Way.

She’s coming home in January to see family and to support her friend David Lyons’ short film Record in which she appears with Damon Herriman and Darrien Skylar. The tale of a father in mourning who struggles to connect with his blind daughter, it’s been nominated for an AACTA award.

Next year she intends to try out for roles in the US pilot season but would jump at the chance to work in Australia again, “I like telling Australian stories,” she says.