Two Flat Whites caught up with actress Clare Bowen. Clare recently starred in the feature film ‘’The Combination’ which explores the lives of Lebanese youths and their struggle with violence, racism and social identity. Clare was a shining light starring along side George Basha and guided extremely well by David Field in his first film as a director.
Where did you grow up & where do you hang your hat?
I grew up all over the place. My parents both worked for Qantas when I was little, and so smuggled me along with them most of the time. Childhood was spent between overseas, Sydney where I went to school, and down the South coast of NSW, Stanwell Park, which was home. I’ve moved further down the coast since and now live on the Minnamurra River.
Tell us a bit about your latest movie – The Combination?
Well, it seems to have caught people’s attention for a few different reasons! It’s not a timid film. It’s a love story about honour, family, the choices you have to make, and the reality of consequence. David Field and George Basha portray a beautiful facet of the culture in Sydney’s Western Suburbs that a lot of people don’t get to see, but they don’t shy away from showing the audience how rough life can get, just because of the colour of your skin. David unearthed a group of very talented individuals to play the boys – some of whom are first time actors! They brought a beautifully unique dimension to the film.
What inspired you to become involved with The Combination?
Inspired? Well I nearly expired when I got a call from David Field offering me the role of Sydney! Couldn’t believe it, rang him and John Pirrie back twice to make sure they weren’t pulling my leg. It was just the type of thing that happens to other people. I never imagined that I’d have the opportunity to work with such an exceptional group of people as the cast and crew of The Combination.
I had a lot of fun playing Sydney. She’s not a typical fatalist – she’s awkward, flawed, occasionally ignorant, but at the same time very forward thinking and independent. She’s comfortable in her own skin, but an obvious black sheep in her family. Sort of like a puzzle piece that doesn’t quite fit. Displaced, not so unlike the Lebanese characters in the film, who get called Aussie in one environment, and Wog in another. I can only hope I did her justice. David Field gave me the opportunity of a lifetime when he offered her to me.
Tell us about the cast & crew. What was the vibe like on set?
Always exciting! It was my first time on a film set, but I didn’t even get the chance to be nervous because there were so many seasoned professionals around me like Toby Oliver, Doris Younane and David Field, who were so wonderfully generous with advice and guidance. The cast was hilarious, the crew was hard working but easy going, there was never, ever a negative vibe on set. Everyone hung out with everyone – very much like family, but without the crazy uncle no one talks about.
There were many themes including racism and violence. In your opinion, what were the major messages portrayed by the movie?
Because the film employs such realism, ultimately it’s left to the audience to make up their own minds about the story they’ve just been a part of. But the film shows the futility of violence, it throws the every day injustice of the real world right at your feet. The heartbreak and fury I’ve witnessed different audiences experience whilst watching some scenes in the film is indicative of a common understanding. The film’s moral standing is organic, like life – lots of grey areas.