By Andrea Beattie
If you believe in fate, Clare Bowen should be your poster girl.
After being convinced by Cate Blanchett to move to the US to chase her singing and acting dreams, the 25-year-old believes she’s landed exactly where she’s supposed to be.
Even being inexcusably late for an audition for a role on TV show Nashville couldn’t alter her course.
Show creator Callie Khouri (the Academy Award-winning writer of Thelma and Louise) was completely taken with the divine Ms Bowen and couldn’t see anyone else in the role of talented poet and angelic singer Scarlett O’Connor.
Fast-forward two years and Bowen is hot property in the acting and singing worlds — she’s just signed on for the third season of the Emmy- nominated show, has moved to Nashville and is recording her debut album there.
But Bowen is staying grounded, taking time to focus on the things that make her happy outside of work.
“I’d been looking after this beautiful rescue Andalusian — before I was in TV and film full-time I used to muster cattle and work with rescue horses,” Bowen says.
“It’s been something I went back to as a stress release — I went to this ranch here and ended up looking after this beautiful horse.
“(On my birthday) My boyfriend blindfolded me, stuck me in my truck, took me out to the farm and there he was! It was pretty cool.”
So, while it’s the worst cliche ever, Bowen really is living her dream.
“It’s a very special show to work on,” Bowen says of Nashville.
“Callie Khouri is amazing. I get to sing and tell stories and I’m at the Opry (a legendary Nashville venue) whenever I’d like to be there. I’ve been welcomed into this town as somebody who really didn’t know Nashville or what I would find here. Now it’s my home.”
“Like that horrible photo of Britney Spears sitting in the gutter after she shaved her head — she was really hurting when that photo was taken. And people exploited it. And I find that absolutely vile.”
Bowen has also made an impression on Nashville’s creative team, helping design her character’s path from being an unassuming waitress and part-time poet, to having a very public meltdown while performing to an arena full of people.
“It’s very flattering to be given that kind of material to make happen,” Bowen says.
“And it’s also something that happens here so often; people just fall apart, and you do become public property. We’ve seen it happen to people in real life, in the media, and it’s disgusting the way people are judged for it.
“Like that horrible photo of Britney Spears sitting in the gutter after she shaved her head — she was really hurting when that photo was taken. And people exploited it. And I find that absolutely vile.
“Scarlett is a strange little creature and in the last few episodes (of season two) you realise why she is so strange — but we’ve had her blueprint from the very beginning. Callie and (producer) RJ Cutler sat down with me and said ‘write a backstory’. So I wrote one, and they wrote the other half and we kind of met in the middle. I feel so delighted that I got to have input.
“I never really read too much about them when I was back in Australia — I’d occasionally see pictures of people in magazines and that was the only time I’d ever seen those people because I didn’t watch television.”
“It’s probably why she is the strangest thing on television,” she laughs.
Bowen says her co-stars, who include Friday Night Lights’ Connie Britton, and Hayden Panettiere, are a dream to work with.
“(Connie) is lovely; she’s really, really cool and very giving,” she says.
“And she’s got a beautiful little boy, Yoby (Britton adopted him from Ethiopia in 2011), who she brings to set all the time. It’s quite astounding to be working with these people.
“I never really read too much about them when I was back in Australia — I’d occasionally see pictures of people in magazines and that was the only time I’d ever seen those people because I didn’t watch television.
“And I remember seeing Hayden in Racing Stripes and thinking ‘oh wow, (she’s) really cool’. And now I’m working with her. It’s the weirdest thing. I will never get used to it.”
So what does Bowen hope happens with Scarlett?
“I love a happy ending; I’d love her to be with someone, like what happened to me — I met someone really beautiful and I didn’t think I ever would,” she says.
“I’ve always coped with people who were jealous and who would like to sabotage my career, and that’s what she’s has come up against — people who didn’t really care about her and didn’t know what she was.
“So I suppose I’d love for her to meet someone who really cared about her. But I think she’s still got a lot of soul searching to do on her own.
“I want her to have good friends, she has maybe one good friend — and even he is compromised. I think Scarlett needs, good true friends. And maybe a pony.
“That’d be nice.”
Original article appeared in mX newspaper