It’s hard to believe that Claire Holt isn’t an imaginary superhero dreamed up by a cadre of comic book geeks. Distractingly pretty, with a raspy Australian accent to boot? Check. A black belt in Tae Kwon Do? Also check. Did we mention that the character who catapulted her to stardom is a badass, 1,000-year-old vampire?
But Holt is real. So real, in fact, that even in her trademark uniform of white tee shirt and jeans, several onlookers during our interview can’t help but gawk and shyly ask for photographs. Holt, whom we forgot to mention is also gracious and entirely unfazed by her celebrity, was happy to oblige. “I know this is a really fickle industry,” Holt muses. “[Fame] could go away at any second!”
But right now, the 25-year-old Brisbane-born actress is in an enviable position. Rebekah Mikaelson, her character on the CW cult hit The Vampire Diaries, is now one of the stars of the spin-off series The Originals, so named because it follows a family of first-generation bloodsuckers. Rebekah, who Holt says started off as a “mean, selfish, and childish” character, has developed into a vampire with a heart—figuratively speaking, of course. “She’s coming into her own as an independent woman,” Holt says. “She’s more sensitive to other people’s feelings.” Empathy and friendliness have never been issues for the actress, however. “Claire impressed me from the moment she walked on to our set,” Diaries costar Nina Dobrev says. “She has a quick wit, talent, and a charisma that is infectious and compelling to watch. I’m sad to see her leave our show, but I’m excited for her to now carry her own.”
The Originals will hardly be the actress’s first time playing a mythical creature. Her big break came while portraying a teenager-turned-mermaid on a show called H20: Just Add Water in her native Australia. By age 20, Holt had outgrown the antipodean film scene and she and her mother jumped the pond to California, where she eventually settled in West Hollywood. Her success at a young age is due in large part to parents who were always supportive, even an ocean away. “I really, truly owe everything to them,” she says. “My mother would come with me to auditions and sit outside because she knew I got nervous. Then we’d get in the car, go home, and have something to eat. I’d fall asleep and [the next time] we’d do it all over again.”
While landing a starring role on a hit television show stopped the cycle of auditions, it certainly doesn’t leave Holt with much free time to go to Manhattan Beach, one of her favorite LA ’hoods. But for the actress, it’s hardly a sacrifice: “I’m just so happy when I’m on set,” she says. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”