When she was first cast as Sue ‘Boomer’ Jenkins in Wentworth, Katrina Milosevic was something of a bit player.
With only a handful of lines and a character breakdown barely more than a few sentences, her role was supporting at best.
Now in its third season, Wentworth would not be the same without Milosevic’s contribution, considered one of the key ensemble players.
She owes the break to episode 1 director Kevin Carlin, who was determined she join the show.
“He said ‘They’re making a reimagining of Prisoner. It’s highly hush-hush but I’m sure we can find something in it for you,'” she explains.
“Boomer wasn’t part of the original cast and it was a supporting role. He said ‘They don’t know what it is yet. I’ve got (exec producer) Jo Porter onside but Amanda (Crittenden, series producer) thinks you’re too girly and soft.’
“So I gelled my hair back, put really high heels on, tracky dacks, no make-up and looked a delight for the audition.
“When I got the role, Kevin said ‘We’ll just stick you in a few other scenes and see what happens.’
“I only had a couple of words in the first episode,” she recalls.
“So I came in with an idea of who she was and went from there. Now we work very much as a team and they write for her, so it’s fantastic.”
Milosevic made the role her own, adding character traits by observing people on public transport -and even from some observations much closer to home.
“My tramline takes in some of the wealthiest parts of Melbourne but also some of the lower socio-economic groups. So as soon as I got Boomer I figured she’d ride the trams. So I spent a lot of time on trams watching people!
“And my boyfriend will hate me for saying this but when he watches television he sits there with his jaw slacked, mouth open as a loud-breather. So I stole that from him and he hates me telling people that. And the accent, because he’s very ocker. He’s beautiful but he’s just a mouth-breather!”
‘What did I sign up for? This is nuts!’
Milosevic also has a solid acting background. A graduate of NIDA, she has appeared in Stingers, Neighbours, Laid, Rush, Mr & Mrs Murder, Bell Shakespeare Company and toured internationally opposite Cate Blanchett in the Sydney Theatre Company production of Gross Und Klein. But the role of ‘Boomer’ requires plenty of action work too.
“We had a massive riot scene in the first series and it was the second day of shooting and I was doing all this stunt work. I was thinking ‘What did I sign up for? This is nuts!’ But now I just love it and it stretches a new muscle for me.”
In the US, where the show screens on Netflix, Milosevic has been singled out by media as the “perfect fit” for Franky Doyle’s attack dog. But the praise has not gone to her head.
“My agent was chuffed. It was lovely but at the same time praise and accolades balances out the other stuff too. So I guess you have to enjoy it while it lasts, because nothing ever does. I try to keep my head down and keep getting better.
“I love the job of acting, but not always the stuff that goes with it which I find a little too much.”
Without giving too much away, the character arc for Season Three is set to surprise, while shooting for Series 4 begins in August.
“She goes somewhere that you probably would not expect, with someone that you probably would not expect,” says Milosevic.
“There’s some distance between Franky and her, and it’s kind of a lasting distance I have to say. We go our own way and I try to make it on my own but it doesn’t go too well.”
Finally, one relationship isn’t about to change: Boomer’s massive obsession with AFL footballer, Brendan Fevola. Milosevic says any mention of Boomer’s affection gets a reaction from the fans, and she would like to apologise to the man himself.
“It wasn’t my idea, it was the writers! Poor Brendan. I noticed on Twitter everyone was saying ‘Ohhhhh Fev!’” she admits.
“So sorry, dude…”
Wentworth airs 8:30pm Tuesday on SoHo.