STREET SMARTS

Hav­ing watched his mum on Neigh­bours, ac­tor Har­ley Bon­ner wanted to find his own path. It even­tu­ally lead him right to Ram­say Street

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY TV - COLIN VICK­ERY

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.

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