Having watched his mum on Neighbours, actor Harley Bonner wanted to find his own path. It eventually lead him right to Ramsay Street
Harley Bonner has changed his tune. When the 24-yearold started acting he was determined not to be on Neighbours. That is because his mum, Carla Bonner, had starred as Steph Scully on the Channel 10 soapie for 11 years, from 1999 to 2010.
Like most children of famous stars, Harley was determined to tread his own path, and didn’t want a free ride because of his mum’s status.
“When I signed with my agent I told him that I want to be my own person,” Harley says. “I said ‘I don’t want to be known as Carla Bonner’s and Steph Scully’s son – not that I have anything against Neighbours but I would prefer to avoid it.”
All of that changed when Harley joined Neighbours in early 2013 to play swim champion Josh Willis.
The decision turned out to be a winner and Harley was nominated for Best New Talent at the 2014 Logie Awards, he has America in his sights, and his mum couldn’t be happier.
“I have learnt so much,” Harley says. “I would be nowhere near the actor now if I hadn’t done this.”
Josh’s life has been a rollercoaster. His dream of swimming in the Commonwealth Games fell apart when he injured his shoulder. That came after Josh dumped his dad Brad (Kip Gamblin) as coach.
Josh’s relationship with Amber Turner (Jenna Rosenow) also disintegrated. Then a drunk Josh hit Chris Pappas (James Mason) with a coward punch.
“With his swimming career, Josh had to give it his all and be selfish but when that leaks out into everyday life it doesn’t work,” Harley explains.
“He has had to learn compassion for others and patience. He has had to lose his girlfriend and his career (to gain wisdom).”
Mum Carla has been looking on as Harley tackles these challenging storylines.
“Mum has been a constant source of positivity since I’ve been on the show,” Harley says. “She is constantly watching the show. She gives me constructive criticism.”
Harley spent a lot of his childhood watching his mum on the set of Neighbours. That turned out to be a bonus when he signed to the show.
“I knew the way the show was run because I’d been around it for a long time,” Harley says.
“I think a lot of people (actors) are shocked by the speed at which we shoot but it isn’t a factor for me.
“I really had no concept that it was slower than that (on other TV shows).
“The people that impress me are the ones that are dedicated and treat Neighbours with importance, for example Alan Fletcher.
“His commitment to what he is doing – it has been 20 years on the same show – is really admirable.”
Harley Bonner, who plays Josh Willis, is following in his mum’s Ramsay St footsteps.