DAMIEN KING LEE (3s): Hi, I’m Damien King Lee, and this is the fucked up story of my life and the lives of my guests. In this series of podcasts I’ll be speaking to unique and inspiring individuals about their life, their personal stories, struggles, and experiences.
THE VOICE (27s): Hi, this is The Voice and welcome to Life is… With Damien King Lee. Our guest this week is Claire Holt the Australian actress who is taking America by storm. She’s quite the mother, quite the conversationalist and fascinating. I really hope you guys enjoy this because we had a blast doing it. Thank you and enjoy
DAMIEN KING LEE (51s): Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you are enjoying what’s turning out to be a really fascinating series of podcasts, which I decided to do when I found out my recent terminal cancer diagnosis. I hope it proves to be beneficial and inspirational, which were all the things I really intended it to be and if it’s not Christ, you know, change channels, but I really hope this is going to be something quite special. Tonight I have someone with me who I believe I have some commonalities with, believe it or not, but it’s someone who’s incredibly successful and yet very proud of their social responsibilities as well. Hopefully tonight, she’s going to have an opportunity to fill us in about her intricacies of her life and all the special things that she’s achieved and, and gone on to do with her current life.
DAMIEN KING LEE (1m 38s): This is a podcast really about bringing people together to talk about our various struggles, difficulties and how we’ve overcome these. I know my story and if you know my story, you know that I’m a multi cancer survivor. I’m currently struggling with my latest terminal diagnosis. It’s a thing that I’ve learned to get on with. I, I have to live with it every day and that’s my personal journey and I call it living with cancer. But tonight I’ve got a very special guest, as I said, and it’s Claire Holt. And I really hope that Claire can share her incredible journey of, of her success and what she’s built for her and her family’s lives and really here we are with Claire.
DAMIEN KING LEE (2m 19s): And let me introduce Claire and we’re going to share our stories together tonight, and I hope you’re going to enjoy it. So welcome Claire Holt to the, to the show.
CLAIRE HOLT (2m 28s): Thank you for having me, thank you so much. DAMIEN KING LEE (2m 31s): Well, Claire, so look, it’s, it’s incredible to have you here and, you know, I find you a really special person. I, from what I know about you, you know, you have been very inspirational from what I know about you. And tonight, I really want to have the opportunity to try and find out a little bit more about you. Let me start by some of, I guess, some of the commonalities that I talked about earlier
CLAIRE HOLT (2m 56s): Please, please share them
DAMIEN KING LEE (2m 56s): And look here, they are, I mean, here they are. I mean, look… Your son, okay? Your first son, your first child is James. My boy is James, okay?
CLAIRE HOLT (3m 7s): Oh, really?
DAMIEN KING LEE (3m 8s): Yeah. He’s James. And I know this is a really special time for you right now, because right now you’re very close to having your second, second child and girl, and I know there’s going to be a 17 month gap between James…
CLAIRE HOLT (3m 23s): Yes, you have them same?
DAMIEN KING LEE (3m 24s): Exactly the same with my two boys
CLAIRE HOLT (3m 26s): Get outta here, that’s amazing.
DAMIEN KING LEE (3m 28s): 17 months…
CLAIRE HOLT (3m 29s): You could give me some tips then, because I don’t know how…
DAMIEN KING LEE (3m 31s): I’m going to give you some tips, absolutely. Here’s another one. Okay. Your birthday. 11th of July, right?
CLAIRE HOLT (3m 38s): 11th of June.
DAMIEN KING LEE (3m 40s): 11th of June Oh my God. How can I say that? Cause I’m going to be really busted now by my son because it’s my second son, 11th of June as well.
CLAIRE HOLT (3m 49s): Get outta here, it is?
DAMIEN KING LEE (3m 50s): So yeah, absolutely. I’m going to… he’s going to kill me [laughs]
CLAIRE HOLT (3m 55s): Don’t worry my dad has forgotten my birthday more times, so it’s fine [laughs]
DAMIEN KING LEE (3m 60s): The same birthday, right? And here we go, married twice, married twice, right?
CLAIRE HOLT (4m 4s): Married twice, yep.
DAMIEN KING LEE (4m 5s): And guess what? We’re both Aussies. There you go.
CLAIRE HOLT (4m 7s): Unbelievable.
DAMIEN KING LEE (4m 8s): You’re from Brisbane, right?
CLAIRE HOLT (4m 11s): I’m from Brisbane. Yeah. Where are you from?
DAMIEN KING LEE (4m 13s): Sydney.
CLAIRE HOLT (4m 14s): Oh, well you’re a little more classy than I
DAMIEN KING LEE (4m 17s): Well, I don’t know, we always say that, especially during the rugby State of Origin, right?
CLAIRE HOLT (4m 21s): That’s true. That’s a big rivalry there.
DAMIEN KING LEE (4m 24s): So good. And look, you know, and with us tonight too, I’ve got another special friend of mine. I call him The Voice. Sitting here off screen right now. And you know, I know The Voice has some commonalities with you as well and has known you for a long time, so say hi The Voice.
THE VOICE (4m 42s): Hey, how are you all, nice to see you again
CLAIRE HOLT (4m 45s): Hi Voice.
THE VOICE (4m 46s): Hello Claire, how are you?
CLAIRE HOLT (4m 49s): Yeah, I’m doing great.
THE VOICE (4m 51s): Well, you sound great. Even though I can’t see you [laughs]
CLAIRE HOLT (4m 54s): That’s all that matters right now, when you, when you’re nine months pregnant, not many people need to see you.
THE VOICE (5m 0s): You know what, I saw you earlier and you looked great. So I’m, I’m very, very pleased to see you so healthy actually. And, and Claire and I you know, have known each other professionally, and I’m not just saying this… Genuinely one of the most talented of actors I’ve ever seen work, you know, just so, so on-point, so professional, so good. So, you know, it’s, it’s funny, this, this is for me going to be an eye-opener because I’m going to get to hear stuff about it her that I don’t.
CLAIRE HOLT (5m 30s): Yeah, it’s funny. Cause I remember when I, when we worked together, I was very much… It was a really tough role for me. And so I would go home every day and I would study and The Voice would always say: “come on, come hang out, come spend time with us.” And you know, I was a bit of a downer. I was like, “Nah, I’ve got to go learn, I’ve got to prepare.” So it’ll be interesting. I don’t think I sort of shared too much of myself or my personality when I was on that job.
THE VOICE (5m 57s): That’s true [laughs]. But the funny thing is now it sounds like I’m just this party boy that turned up [laughs] Hey guys, let’s go out and party!
CLAIRE HOLT (6m 10s): No, no. It was a hard job and I think you were trying to get me out of it, you know, encouraged me to be around the rest of the cast and crew because that’s what most people do, but…
THE VOICE (6m 21s): Well, you know what Claire, whatever you did…
CLAIRE HOLT (6m 23s): I was a loner
THE VOICE (6m 24s): Whatever you did was spectacular. I have to say, you know, and I know this film is coming out, you know, just after COVID, hopefully has lifted. I think. And a lot of people are gonna, are going to be sitting up and taking incredible notice. I mean, they already do, but, but this is such a departure, you know, it’s such a crazy part. Brilliant writer, the writing was amazing [laughs]
CLAIRE HOLT (6m 48s): It was! It was the reason I wanted to do the film. I, when I read that script, I was like: “Oh wow” and then of course I met our incredible director.
THE VOICE (6m 57s): Yeah. Terrific, unbelievable.
CLAIRE HOLT (6m 59s): Too good to be true. THE VOICE (7m 1s): Amazing partnership you guys are in now.
CLAIRE HOLT (7m 4s): Yeah, Really. We, we just connected so well during the production process and have been sort of working together ever since, which is a really nice thing. It doesn’t always happen. So we have a lot of respect for each other creatively and professionally. And it was such a beautiful thing to sort of find that in China, which is where we shot the film.
DAMIEN KING LEE (7m 27s): China?
CLAIRE HOLT (7m 28s): Yeah.
DAMIEN KING LEE (7m 28s): Wow. Okay.
THE VOICE (7m 30s): You’re from Singapore, aren’t you?
DAMIEN KING LEE (7m 31s): Well, dad’s originally from Singapore… But which parts of China was it shot in?
CLAIRE HOLT (7m 35s): So we were in Dongguan, which is like an industrial town in China and it was just an entirely different world. Like some… I’d never been anywhere like that before and I had been to China, but it was just so interesting. But the thing that I found the most fascinating about it was, I just really loved the people there. And they had such an incredible sense of humour. So many of the crew members and the people that I worked with, you know, the chefs, the, just everyone, they looked so funny. And I really loved that because I didn’t know that about them as a culture. And it was really cool.
THE VOICE (8m 15s): Yeah. They were very dry. I mean, it was, yeah, it was terrific.
CLAIRE HOLT (8m 18s): Very dry. It was awesome. Yeah. I was laughing the whole time.
DAMIEN KING LEE (8m 22s): And how was the food?
CLAIRE HOLT (8m 25s): Listen… [laughs] I lived on white rice and bok choy the whole time. Yeah. I’d put olive oil all over it. And I was like, I guess I need some fat in there and… I have pretty specific tastes. So it wasn’t really for me, but some people loved it.
DAMIEN KING LEE (8m 47s): But that’s what I always find incredible that China though… Back home in Australia, the Chinese food is so different to the actual food that you get from China when you’re in China
CLAIRE HOLT (8m 55s): Oh, yeah.
DAMIEN KING LEE (8m 57s): It’s completely not what you experienced back home and even in England or America or whatever. But I think, you know, the food that we tend to experience back home and in other Western nations is more Hong Kong Chinese style. So when you get to shine to China, China, it’s wow! It’s, it’s really foreign.
CLAIRE HOLT (9m 14s): It is, it was very foreign. And when I went to Hong Kong, I ate the food and felt very at home. I went actually for a weekend when we were shooting. But aside from that, you know, I was nervous too. I just didn’t know really what was in the food. And, you know, I just didn’t know if there was a language barrier and I was going to be eating something I didn’t want to eat. So I was like, you know, I’ll stick to what I know. I brought a whole suitcase worth of like bars and snacks from Whole Foods so I had my clothes suitcase for the month and my food suitcase for the month and I got by just fine.
DAMIEN KING LEE (9m 48s): Smart. Cool. Well, listen, Claire. I mean, let’s talk about something super relevant right now and that’s you. You’re obviously about to be an expectant mom yet again.
CLAIRE HOLT (10m 1s): I am, yeah.
DAMIEN KING LEE (10m 3s): How, how is this whole mummy thing for you right now and how does it impact your career? And it has it put things on hold? I mean, what’s going on?
CLAIRE HOLT (10m 12s): Yeah, no, it’s been the most mind-blowing journey for me. First, initially my transition into motherhood and then having my son and everything that I went through. So when I first decided that I wanted to have a child with my now husband, I had a miscarriage, my first pregnancy. And that was really, really tough for me. I never really gave weight to what women go through when they experience that. I had always thought: “well, you know, you can’t possibly be connected to this child because it’s…” I was about 10 and a half weeks at the point that I miscarried. So I was like: “it’s not that long, you haven’t been, you know… You don’t really know the thing already.” A thing is what I referred to it as.
CLAIRE HOLT (10m 54s): And then when I went through it myself, the depth of the feelings that I felt and just the overwhelming despair and depression that I felt afterwards really opened my eyes to like what a lot of women go through and the struggles of becoming a parent and, you know, fertility issues. It really, it can do a number on someone. And I know it impacts the men as well, but just being the woman and experiencing that and experiencing that sense of failure, which is what I felt when I lost my first baby. And then when I became pregnant with my son, James, which was about five months later, I would say… So I had my miscarriage, I went to China and I shot the film.
CLAIRE HOLT (11m 36s): And then I came back from China and I went away with my husband for a little vacation, and I got pregnant with James. And that was a really interesting process for me because I feel like I didn’t get to fully enjoy my pregnancy. I was so worried that something was going to go wrong the whole time. So every doctor’s appointment, my blood pressure was through the roof, I was so anxious. I was so anxious that my body wouldn’t be able to do what I thought it was supposed to do. And the whole way through the pregnancy, every little twinge I felt, every… Everything that was new and foreign to me, I thought meant that something was going wrong.
CLAIRE HOLT (12m 15s): So it was a tough experience. I just desperately wanted to have the baby in my arms. Cause I felt like if he’s on the outside, then he’s safe. You know, nothing can happen to him, but I can’t control what happens to him in my body. And interestingly, when he was, when I was 34 weeks pregnant, we had a scan and they thought that they saw something wrong with his heart and of course I was like: “yep, this is it. I knew it. I’ve been waiting for it this whole time. This is what, you know, they’re going to tell me… There’s something terribly wrong with him.” And it turned out that he was okay and now his heart’s perfect and it was just something we monitored sort of through the rest of the pregnancy and in the first six months of life and now he’s okay. But I just had this experience where I didn’t get to enjoy it.
CLAIRE HOLT (12m 58s): And then it was something that I’d wanted so desperately because of my miscarriage and because I wanted to have a family and I really loved my husband and I wanted to have children with him and it was such a struggle to get there. And then when I had this baby, I was like: “okay, when he’s out, I’m going to be so relieved and so happy and it’s going to be the best thing to ever happen.” And I really struggled post partum. I had terrible post partum anxiety. I thought that he would suffocate. I just was terrified that he was got, you know, [inaudible] that at some point in the night I was going to fall asleep or, you know, maybe he would be on my chest and he would fall off and he would stop breathing.
CLAIRE HOLT (13m 38s): And so I was constantly living in this state of: “okay, I’ve got to keep him alive, I’ve got to keep them alive. I got to make sure that he’s safe.” And then I really struggled with breastfeeding. He had a milk protein allergy that I didn’t know about. So he would have… He was a colicky baby and he’d cry and cry, and he was always in pain and I didn’t know what was wrong with him. I’d never had a child before. So I didn’t, you know, I couldn’t determine whether it was something I was doing or whether it was the food or what, and then… So that lasted probably about 12 weeks, the first 12 weeks, I really struggled. And then I felt guilty again because I was like: “well, I wanted this baby so desperately, and I fought so hard for this baby, And then I just wanted him on the outside and now I’m not enjoying it.
CLAIRE HOLT (14m 24s): I, I’m not a good mother. I am failing him. And maybe I shouldn’t have been so desperate to have children because, you know, I’m clearly doing a terrible job.” And then I, you know, I did a lot of therapy and I worked through it and I realized, you know, there were a lot of things up against me. I, you know, his allergy and just being so unfamiliar with the situation and my previous anxiety throughout my pregnancy had sort of trickled into my postpartum experience. But after he was about three months old, I kind of felt the fog lift. And that was actually when I stopped breastfeeding because of his allergy. And I switched him to a hypoallergenic formula and he did amazing after that.
CLAIRE HOLT (15m 5s): But I started to feel like: “okay, I’m, you know, sort of becoming myself again. I feel, I feel like, you know, maybe I’m not such a terrible mother. He seems to smile at me. So I think he likes me…” and I really, you know, began to enjoy the experience more. But then I faced this, this struggle of: “okay, well, what does this mean for me and my identity? You know, am I going to go back to work? Am I going to get to do what I love, which is acting, you know, it’s my major passion. Am I going to have to make sacrifices? Because I can’t just pick up and go to China anymore. You know, I have to think about my family…” And I had this sort of real, you know, crisis inside about like, who am I now?
CLAIRE HOLT (15m 51s): You know, I realize now I’m a mother. And I realized maybe, you know, I’m not such a terrible mother like I thought I was, and I really do love my son and I care about him and I want him to have an incredible life and maybe that means that my ambitions have to take a backseat a little bit. So that was certainly another part of the struggle. And that almost identity crisis that I went through. And then I started to, you know, at about… When he was about six, seven months old, I started to realize: “okay, there’s probably things I can do” and I’ll just make certain sacrifices, but I don’t have to sacrifice everything. And I felt like I was starting to getting my groove again.
CLAIRE HOLT (16m 31s): And then I got pregnant with my daughter [laughs] and so it was, it was really interesting because we all know how you get pregnant. So surprise pregnancy, necessarily, is not really a big, I just didn’t think it would be so quick for me. I didn’t think… Because of my miscarriage. And, you know, I’d heard a lot of friends having trouble having a second child. I didn’t think that I would be fortunate enough to conceive the first time and I did. And so, you know, then I sort of went through the cycle again of “I’m so lucky, I’m so blessed, I’m so happy, but I was just about ready to go back to work and now I’m pregnant and I don’t know what that means for me and I don’t know whether I’ll be able to.
CLAIRE HOLT (17m 18s): And so sort of the first three months, again, you, you start to think, okay, well, who knows this, this is going to last, this pregnancy. Obviously you have to get through all the testing and you have to make sure that the baby’s healthy. So that was kind of in the back of my mind. And then right when I got sort of the all clear that the baby was healthy, this awful pandemic happened, and everyone went into lockdown and as horrible as it’s been for so many people, I tried to look at it as like an opportunity to just connect with my family and stay home and focus on my pregnancy and, and, you know, rest and quieten my mind and not feel like I had to constantly chase something or be something, you know, I guess I say, I don’t have any formula this time, like I had last time.
CLAIRE HOLT (18m 10s): And so it’s been, it’s been a pretty bumpy road in terms of like the ups and downs I’ve experienced. Transitioning from being fully career driven to being a mother, but I will say, and I’m sure, you know, I’m sure everyone says this and you know what it feels like, but there is nothing like it in the world. I would never choose my career over this feeling. It’s so… I look at my son sometimes, and I don’t, I don’t know how to function. I feel like I’m going to explode. Like I can’t breathe. He is the best thing to ever happen to me. And it’s, it’s just not even a question. Like I would never choose anything over that, but it’s definitely interesting that as a woman, particularly I have to, you know, deal with these big questions.
CLAIRE HOLT (18m 56s): Like, am I going to make those sacrifices? I’m obviously not going to be able to act for nine months because I’m pregnant and it’s very difficult to hide that. So it’s, it’s been a journey, but I certainly wouldn’t change it. And I think I’ve grown a lot as a human. I think I’ve, I have a lot of compassion for people who go through this journey now. I think I’m a lot nicer to my mum [laughs].
DAMIEN KING LEE (19m 21s): You understand her better.
CLAIRE HOLT (19m 23s): A lot of respect for her, she did four kids in five years.
DAMIEN KING LEE (19m 28s): Wow, wow
CLAIRE HOLT (19m 29s): And it’s funny because when I was growing up, sometimes I used to think, you know: “Oh, I wish my mom like was so career driven and I wish she would, would go out and like wanted to achieve these things.” And now I realize like she gave up everything for us. She was a nurse and she stopped and she raised four children. And that’s the hardest job in the world.
DAMIEN KING LEE (19m 49s): The toughest job
CLAIRE HOLT (19m 50s): You don’t get holidays, you don’t get sick days.
DAMIEN KING LEE (19m 52s): Exactly, no time off.
CLAIRE HOLT (19m 55s): It’s 24 hours a day. And you know what’s easier? Going to work, that’s easier.
DAMIEN KING LEE (19m 60s): It sure is.
CLAIRE HOLT (20m 1s): So it’s been interesting, yeah.
DAMIEN KING LEE (20m 4s): And you know, Claire, I could hear so much emotion in… When you were talking and obviously it’s had a big emotional impact that the… With your life. But there was one thing I read about you in a previous interview, you said that the whole miscarriage situation had actually a positive impact on your relationship at one stage. I mean, what, what do you mean by that?
CLAIRE HOLT (20m 33s): I think the depth of connection that it gave me with my husband was something that I don’t know that I would have found if we’d had simple, easy pregnancies with no complications. The support that he showed me, even though his heart was breaking too, was such a beautiful thing. And when you go through something like that together, and I’m, you know, I’m sure you’re familiar with your own journey when you go through really tough times with people, it can either bring you together, it can tear you apart. And, and for us, it just brought us so close together. And we really, and really made us grateful for what we have now and for our son, you know, if that pregnancy had worked out, I wouldn’t have my boy James, and he’s my baby.
CLAIRE HOLT (21m 22s): He’s the one I meant to have. So I, I know that to be true, but it was a really special thing for us, particularly because we hadn’t been together too long before we got pregnant. And, you know, it was very like much when, you know, you know. When we met right away, we were just like, felt so connected and in love and knew we were going to get married and it was a very quick thing, but it just sort of deepened our connection even further. So I am grateful for that.
DAMIEN KING LEE (21m 52s): Wow. Okay. And that’s quite taking a, you know, a positive from a negative and I’m a big believer in that and you know, my own situation too, you know, I, I’ve actually been a single dad
CLAIRE HOLT (22m 2s): Oh, wow,
DAMIEN KING LEE (22m 2s): … bringing up my two young boys for a long, long time. And, you know, my partner, my wife at the time chose to, I guess, tread a different path and you know, where she was in her stage, in her life at the time she was more about career and I guess what she called herself a party girl. And I always used to say to her, you know, look, you know, that’s, the wrong timing when you’ve already got two kids [laughs]. And so we, and, you know, we ended up separating and eventually divorcing, but I brought up the two boys full-time.
CLAIRE HOLT (22m 43s): I have so much respect for you. Let me just say that. Being a parent with a partner is one of the hardest jobs in the world. So doing it on your own, I can’t even imagine, like, I, I just think it takes such tremendous strength and resilience, and I’m sure there were days that were just impossibly hard, but I have so much respect for you that you did that, I don’t know how I would do it. I really don’t.
DAMIEN KING LEE (23m 9s): [Laughs] It has its moments, right? But you know what, as you mentioned earlier, too, it’s some of the most rewarding moments and, you know, I wouldn’t change a thing as well and, and the whole situation, and then it’s daddy and the boys. And, you know, I brought them up the way that I guess I, I wanted two boys to be brought up and we are really close. And fortunately, their mom has come more into their life more recently, which is fantastic because, you know, children need a mom and a dad of course. And, but, you know, it’s had its challenges because at the same time, you know, I’ve been building my businesses, I’ve been dealing with cancer. So a lot of things going on in my life and you know, it’s really interesting to hear how you, as a super busy person, which I know you are…
DAMIEN KING LEE (23m 52s): Dealing with it and so close together, 17 months, it’s going to be between them. So, yeah.
CLAIRE HOLT (23m 58s): You don’t know how I’m going to cope, ask me again in 10 days or when this little one decides to show up, but I think, you know, the good thing going into the second birth, you know what to expect, you know nothing lasts forever. You know, that those like crazy nights of sleep deprivation are going to end at some point and you just don’t have as much fear around the whole experience. You feel like at least a little equipped to deal with it, but that’s what I’m hoping for this time. We’ll see.
DAMIEN KING LEE (24m 29s): I’m sure it will workout. And look, you mentioned earlier, you mentioned earlier about your mum and now you have so much respect for your mum. I mean, what was it like for you growing up, back home in Australia? And you know, what, what, tell us about your family life and, and your childhood. I mean, did you always dream to be an actress or what were your childhood aspirations? Tell us a little bit about that.
CLAIRE HOLT (24m 50s): No I didn’t dream at all to be an actress. So my father’s a doctor. My mother was a nurse. They met in Papua New Guinea. My mother’s from England, my dad’s from Australia, Australia. They were both in Papa New Guinea, supposed to be working. And then they met and fell in love and moved back to Australia. And my mum had always wanted to be mother, like, she’s just so maternal and nurturing. And, and my dad comes from a really big family of 10 children. So it was just a given, I think that they were going to have as many as they could. And so I grew up so close to my siblings and we had a really awesome life. We did, Australia was an incredible place to grow up.
CLAIRE HOLT (25m 32s): I was outdoors all the time, you know, so athletic because it just was encouraged there. And we had, I had so many cousins. I had 40 first cousins on my dad’s side. Now I have 40, I didn’t have this 40 at the time. There’s been sort of a trickle-down effect of the second family telling more. Maybe it’s like 45 now, to be honest, but we were like this gang. And we did everything together and we like camping and fishing and swimming. And it was really an awesome childhood. You know, I had always envisioned myself potentially following in my dad’s footsteps on my mum’s and doing something in the medical field.
CLAIRE HOLT (26m 16s): I was very interested in that because I would go with my dad when he was on call some weekends. And I would see his patients with him around the hospital. They didn’t seem to mind having his eight year old tag along. I just really felt comfortable in a hospital, but, which is interesting because I know a lot of people struggle with that, but I really loved it. And I was fascinated by it. And then as I got older to earn money, I was a medical typist for my dad. And I think he was paying me like five bucks an hour. I was like, this sucks. There’s got to be a better way to earn money than like just typing, typing these letters for $5. And so I was like, you know what I’m going to do. I’m going to do TV commercials and that’s going to be like, I heard this girl, who does it at school, you know, over one over.
CLAIRE HOLT (27m 2s): And she makes like a thousand dollars and that’d be awesome. So I did this little mini screen acting course, and I booked a couple of commercials and one was like for Sizzler. And I got to drink pink lemonade and eat cheese bread every day. And I thought I was like the luckiest kid on earth. And it was the best job ever because I just ate junk food and I didn’t have to go to school. And so I started doing more of those. And then just as a side, I’d always been a big swimmer at school. So I played water polo and I was on the swim team and I really loved swimming. And my commercial agent at the time said, look, there’s this role that they need a good swimmer for its role in a TV series.
CLAIRE HOLT (27m 43s): And I know you haven’t done much acting, but I know you can swim. So I just want to go try? And I think I was 16 at the time. And I was like, sure, yeah, I guess, I guess, why not? You know, I really was focused on finishing school and it was important to me to go to university, but I was like, I can do both. So I went and auditioned. I’m pretty sure I made it through, by the skin of my teeth, this acting audition. Like I sucked, I had no idea what I was doing. No one taught me anything. I think I was just kind of like winging it. And somehow I got through the acting round and then we went to the swimming round and to the swimming round, I had to hold my breath.
CLAIRE HOLT (28m 23s): I didn’t have to do, but they would like just go under water and hold your breath for as long as you can and come up, the role was to play a mermaid. And so I went under and I held my breath for a 50 meter, the length of an olympic swimming pool, for 50 meters. And I came up and they were like, you got the job.
DAMIEN KING LEE (28m 37s): You got the job, that was it? Wow.
CLAIRE HOLT (28m 41s): I don’t think they cared about my acting. They were like, we can teach this girl how to act, but it’s pretty hard to teach someone how to swim. And it was a huge part of, of the role. So that, that was my first foray into the acting world. And it was so unexpected and nothing I ever sort of thought that I would do, but I just figured, you know, why not? This is a really cool opportunity and I can save some money for when I go to university, I’ll finish school whilst on set, you know, and I did that. I worked so hard. We would work really long hours and then I would go home and I would study so four or five hours, I’d sleep a few hours, I’d go back to what the next day. So it was, it was definitely a tough experience for someone that age, but I just got the acting bug and I loved it.
CLAIRE HOLT (29m 29s): And I had the best time and I loved being around the cast and the crew and just getting to experience that world was kind of intoxicating for me. So I realised, you know, maybe this is something that I wanted to pursue in the future as a career path. And I knew how difficult it would be, to go from, you know, obscurity in Australia and this kid’s show to hopefully having a career in, in the States. But you know, when you’re that young and kind of naive and you just think things will work out. So I packed a suitcase and thank God it did.
DAMIEN KING LEE (30m 6s): Well it did right? It did.
CLAIRE HOLT (30m 7s): Well, I guess it has has until this point, we’ll see TBD if I, if I actually have a career left when I’ve popped these kids out.
DAMIEN KING LEE (30m 16s): I’m sure you will. But who was your, like, along the way, I mean, did you have a mentor? Was your mum or your dad sort of pushing you along? I mean, how, how did you, who was guiding you in these early days when you were a young teenager?
CLAIRE HOLT (30m 30s): My mom was so she would just so encouraging. And it was a really awesome thing because what she wanted in for her family and for her life, I know it’s for her family to live by her. And I saw her live on the state street for our whole lives, and she’d be surrounded by her grandchildren and, and we’d be so close because she was desperate for that. That’s what she wanted with her whole life. She just wanted that connection and that family and but she just like gave us wings, you know, both my sister and I live in the United States. She encouraged my sister to take an internship with a Senator in DC. She encouraged me to, to, to take this acting jobs. She encouraged me to move to the United States.
CLAIRE HOLT (31m 11s): She came with me when I first moved for six weeks and helped sort of set me up and make me feel comfortable. It was just a really selfless thing. Now being a mother, realizing what it would take to send your kids overseas and know that it was because they’re going to have a better life or they’re going to have what they want.
DAMIEN KING LEE (31m 30s): That’s a brave thing.
CLAIRE HOLT (31m 30s): Like that takes a lot. And my dad, of course, was always, always very supportive as well, but I just think he was a little more realistic. Like you want to go to Hollywood kid. Okay, sure. Good luck see you in a couple years. But he, he never sort of let me know that that’s how he felt. He was like, okay, you know, you keep trying and send me a budget. And I’ll help you through. And I’ll show you where you could maybe save some more money or do this and that, and talk me through your plans. And they were, they were both incredible, but really it was my mum who I wouldn’t be where I am acting without my mum definitely encouraged me to follow it. Yeah.
DAMIEN KING LEE (32m 7s): So, how old were you when you first made the move to the States?
CLAIRE HOLT (32m 12s): I was 20 when I first moved to America and I had one suitcase and I didn’t have any friends. I didn’t know a single person. And thinking back now, I’m like, that was nuts. I can’t believe I just like got on an airplane and blindly trusted that I’d figure it out. But it was really tough that first year that I was in the States, because I had to not only start over professionally because no one really cared what I’d done before. You know, I had to do all of those, I think I did 142 auditions before I got my first job.
DAMIEN KING LEE (32m 49s): Wow yeah. 142 auditions. Damn! Okay. Yeah.
CLAIRE HOLT (32m 55s): If you know anything about the audition process. It’s not like you just walk in to a job interview and you’re like, you either like me or you don’t, here’s my resume. You have to really prepare. And the way I, with my work, I really care about doing a good job and impressing people. So I would work really hard on all of those auditions, every single one of them. And so it was pretty crushing to, you know, go to that much effort and just feel that constant rejection.
DAMIEN KING LEE (33m 25s): And hit a brick wall each time, yeah.
CLAIRE HOLT (33m 27s): What was even harder, I think was I got quite close on a lot of really awesome jobs, you know, maybe I came second, maybe I came third or whatever. And that was so hard because I was like, well, if I wasn’t getting anywhere, I think I’d probably just go home because I would know that this wasn’t me. I tried, I’m not getting the feedback I need. You know, it’s time to leave, but I was getting really close. And so the disappointment was kind of even more crushing because I was like, well, why can’t I just get over that edge? You know, what is it about me that isn’t letting me take that next step forward? And what I think I realised now in hindsight is it’s a numbers game it really is, you know, if you, there are so many decisions in the film business that have absolutely nothing to do with your talent and a lot to do with how you look, how, how you are next to so-and-so or.
DAMIEN KING LEE (34m 19s): Right place right time?
CLAIRE HOLT (34m 21s): Right place right time. And I’m, I’m really grateful that I didn’t quit because I close a lot, but, but sticking it out really showed me that, you know, if you just keep going, you just bull-headed, maybe you have too much pride to go home with your tail between your legs, then, you know, hopefully it’ll happen.
DAMIEN KING LEE (34m 43s): Do you remember that biggest, low during that period then? I mean, when was that moment where you thought this is it?
CLAIRE HOLT (34m 48s): I have such a clear vision of it. It’s really funny. I was sitting on, I was on Sunset Boulevard and I had just gotten a call from my manager. This might have been like the hundred and 10th audition or something. I’d just gotten a call from my manager about a job that I thought I was like for sure I’ve got this one, this is it, this is what I’m going to get. And she called me and she was like, it’s not going your way, which is the agent manager speak. You know, they always say it’s not going to go your way or they’re going in another direction. And I just plunked myself down on a bus stop in front of all these people, I just bawled my eyes out, cried and cried and cried. And no one really stopped. Now looking back, I’m like, that’s kind of rough, isn’t it?
CLAIRE HOLT (35m 28s): No one wanted to check. I guess they’re so used to seeing that here.
DAMIEN KING LEE (35m 31s): Yeah. Boulevard of broken dreams, right? Yeah.
CLAIRE HOLT (35m 36s): So I just cried. And I was like, I can’t keep doing this. I’m trying so hard. And I don’t know, my skin’s not thick enough. I can’t take this rejection anymore and I let myself get it all out. And I just decided, okay, I’m not gonna make a decision today. I’m just not gonna decide anything. And I feel like I’m in this state, I’m like go home and eat a pint of ice cream, watch TV. And then tomorrow I’ll decide if I want to go home. And you know what? I woke up that I say, and I was like, I’m just not ready yet. I’m not quite ready to go home. I think I’m going to give myself two full years here. And if after two years I haven’t made it, I’m gunna know that I really gave it everything.
CLAIRE HOLT (36m 20s): And it’s not meant for me. And that’s okay. There’s no shame in that. I’d had kept deferring my university at home. So that was still there for me if I wanted to go. And, and I think it was probably, so it was a year. It was almost a year to the day when I got, I booked my first job.
DAMIEN KING LEE (36m 40s): A year, wow. Yeah. Yeah.
CLAIRE HOLT (36m 43s): And then after that, thankfully, it was like a pretty consistent stream of, of work after that. You know, they say in Hollywood, like work begets work, right. If you’re working, all of a sudden, people are interested in you because you’re good enough to get one job. Maybe you’re good enough to get another. And everything started flowing after that. There were certainly moments in the past 10 years where I’ve had definite lulls and other moments where I’ve just had constant work and, you know, things coming in and it’s been exciting. But once I got that first job, I think it really sort of started things off for me and, and I’ve been able to continue it thankfully.
DAMIEN KING LEE (37m 23s): And you sure have. Wow. Wow. And who are your idols along the way? I mean, there must’ve been some people that you looked up to and said as a kid, that’s my idol, you know, did you have any of it?
CLAIRE HOLT (37m 33s): You know really I loved Cate Blanchett.
DAMIEN KING LEE (37m 37s): Cate Blanchett okay.
CLAIRE HOLT (37m 38s): I thought she was so incredible and like talented and obviously, you know, coming from Australia, she was a huge inspiration for me. And then, you know, there were lots of other sort of lesser known actors that, that I had loved along the way. It was more, I would see these like amazing films or this like art house films or independents, or even some of the bigger budget ones. And I would watch these movies and be like, God, I gotta do that. I got to find a way that I can be, I want to play that role. Like that is, it just would speak, like touch me in this weird way.
CLAIRE HOLT (38m 19s): And I’m not like that. Like, I’m really not this overly artistic soft, you know, connected person in that way. I’m pretty pragmatic about the way I live my life. I’m very logical, you know, kind of type A, but I would get lost in these films that I would watch and just feel like, gosh, I have to get there. I have to find a way to be able to make movies like that. And I have to find a way to make myself good enough for that. You know, that was certainly like a learning experience as well. Because when I started out, I’m going to be honest, I sucked, I had no idea what I was doing. There’s no graph to it.
CLAIRE HOLT (38m 59s): I didn’t get trained.
DAMIEN KING LEE (39m 1s): So you’ve just come the long way like The Voice [laughs]
CLAIRE HOLT (39m 5s): My training was like, ‘Hey, don’t look in the camera’, or to step on that green cross there and don’t move. So there was a lot of a lot I learned from like working with really great actors and then other, you know, working with good coaches or just good material and then watching incredible film. And I think that’s sort of helped me along the way, but I’ve definitely had my moments where, you know, seeing Cate on the big screen and been like, wow, I’m never gonna get there, but man she’s incredible.
THE VOICE (39m 38s): Can I just ask you, did you ever get a chance to meet any of these idols? Did any of them, any of them?
CLAIRE HOLT (39m 44s): No, I haven’t met her. It’s funny. I think I’ve been fortunate enough to meet lot of incredible actors, but I haven’t met those few that like, I just love yet.
DAMIEN KING LEE (39m 58s): Who’s disappointed you? Who’s disappointed you though. Come on. You don’t have to name names.
CLAIRE HOLT (40m 5s): No I’m not going to name names. What I find disappointing from how we were trained. So for example, on this first show that I did this mermaid show, we were basically told like, if you’re late, you’re fired, you don’t know your lines your fired. Don’t be first in the lunch line. You are supposed to be last in the lunch line. All the crew works harder than you like, know your place. And your place is at the bottom of ladder as an actor.
THE VOICE (40m 32s): This is why I like you.
CLAIRE HOLT (40m 34s): I’m sure it was. I’m sure they were a little more gentle when they delivered that to me but my 16 year old head, that’s how I remember it. And so coming to America, I had this work ethic that was like, don’t mess up. Don’t ever be late. It’s disrespectful. There are so many people in the crew who have given up seeing their families, and they’ve made huge sacrifices to be here, to work. And it’s not your place to make them wait, and it’s not your place to do a bad job. So, you know, the work ethic instilled in us in Australia was, was a really strong. And I think maybe that’s part of the reason why a lot of Australians work here.
CLAIRE HOLT (41m 21s): So what was disappointing to me when I came out with some of the experiences I had, where I didn’t see actors behaving that way And that sucked, and that for me, I just was like, why would you think that you’re any better than anyone else in this room? Why would you say that your time is any more valuable than anyone else in this room? And I, I just, it bothered me to no end when people would show up unprepared, because I feel like, you know what? You got one job. We have someone who dresses us. We have someone who feeds us. We have someone who picks us up and drives us to work. You really don’t, you could come in your pyjamas, you don’t have to do anything.
CLAIRE HOLT (42m 1s): Your job is just be prepared, know your lines and show up on time and be a good human, you know, it’s really not that hard. And so that, I think disappointed me. I definitely struggled with that until, until I realized, you know, actually pretty common sadly, so, I had to get over that. But what I have found is a lot of the really big names or the more successful actors that I’ve worked with are the consummate professional. Like they know their lines, they’re so kind to everyone, they show up on time. They never wait, make anyone wait, they’re easy to be around. You know, there’s a reason that they get to where they are, right.
CLAIRE HOLT (42m 43s): Because they’re talented, but they’re also nice people and professional. So that’s been nice to see, I think, but there’s, you know, there’s both sides.
DAMIEN KING LEE (42m 52s): Its both sides, isn’t it. And that’s what I was going to ask you. Cause I was curious about that. I mean, every time I watch a movie coming up Hollywood or whatever, it’s either, and then I find out God, it’s an Australian doing an American accent or it’s a Brit, you know? And so why do you think there are so many Aussies that in my perception, you know, being successful in, in, in, in Hollywood, is it about the work ethic or, or what?
CLAIRE HOLT (43m 15s): I definitely think that that’s a part of it, all of the Australian actors that I work with or that I’m friends with out here, they’re all the same way. And so I think that it’s a huge part because that’s how we’re trained and, and there’s also, you know, it’s the same in Britain, right? There’s the tall poppy syndrome in Australia. If you get too big, people are quick to cut you down. So there’s never that mentality of like, I’m, I’m bigger and better than anyone else. And I think we carry that with us a lot to our detriment at times. I know me for sure. Like, I’m always so conscious, I don’t want anyone to think that I think I’m any good or that, you know, I it’s really important for me to stay humble and I don’t want to seem like have a big head or, or anything.
CLAIRE HOLT (43m 57s): So that’s definitely a part of it. And then I think, you know, another part of it is we grow up watching content from the States. You know, there’s not, now it’s different now there’s, you know, some incredible Australian productions. And I know in Britain, incredible British productions, but we hear that accent all the time on TV. And so I think growing up, hearing it constantly, it’s just easier to, to be able to put it on. And then, you know, it’s in a sense, I think it’s the same with the British accent. You know, it just lends itself to that. Our Australian accent, it’s easy to put on the British accent. I’m not sure that people have an easy time putting on our accent.
DAMIEN KING LEE (44m 41s): Definitely not, good’ay. Yeah yeah. [laughs]. But is it true they say that it’s easier to do a Southern American accent than anything?
CLAIRE HOLT (44m 50s): So if you’re going to have a part, that’s what a lot of people, when they come out, a lot of Australians, if you haven’t had a lot of experience, lean Southern. So now I find it much easier to do a general American accent than a Southern accent because you realize there are so many different specific regions and they all have a different sound. But yeah, it’s when I first came out, I definitely have a twang. I did work on that. Figured that one out.
DAMIEN KING LEE (45m 19s): Give us your best New York accent right now, <inaudible>
CLAIRE HOLT (45m 25s): People ask me to do that all the time. I’m shy, I don’t, I feel embarrassed. And so, you know, I make a joke that I’m like, are you paying me? And then I only do it for money. Sorry, guys.
THE VOICE (45m 44s): Honestly, it’s so funny because every actor I’ve ever met in my time, that’s their pet peeve.
THE VOICE: Thank you for tuning in. I hope you enjoyed that. It only gets better in part two, so subscribe and tune in next week. Thanks.