Home What's On Showbiz News

What's On NE website

NEW! What's On in the North East

Your great new home for Sunday Sun entertainment news, pub & restaurant guides, music, cinema reviews, reader reviews and star ratings.

Martial arts fan gets a kick out of Neighbours

Although Neighbours star Carla Bonner has been a familiar face on Ramsay Street for nearly three years, she still seems surprised and delighted at her good fortune.

And perhaps the reason there's no hint of jealousy over the success of her on-screen sister Holly Valance is that she thinks it was mainly luck that landed her the part of Stephanie Scully in the first place.

Certainly she had little acting experience and happened to be in the right place at the right time when the actress originally cast in her biker chick role unexpectedly resigned.

"I had done various acting courses followed by TV bit parts, but nothing major," she recalls.

as"Then one day I was visiting my cousin in Melbourne and was on the way to her house when I decided to drop some photos off at my agents.

"When I walked in, my agent happened to be on the phone to the Neighbours casting director, who was desperate for a new Steph because the actress playing her had dropped out after just three weeks.

"There and then I was asked in for a cold reading. If I hadn't popped in to my agents that day, there's no doubt someone else would have got the call, because I didn't carry a mobile phone.

"But I was fortunate to get called back for a second audition, and this time I met Holly (who plays Flick Scully) and Kate (Keltie, who plays other sister Michelle Scully) in the make-up room. We all got on brilliantly and I acted like a real big sister straight away.

"Amazingly I got the part and, starting next day, had to develop my character and shoot three weeks' worth of scenes in a week."

Carla doesn't fit the usual profile of a young Neighbours actress as she is in her late 20s and the mother of two sons, Harley, 11, and Jhye, 4.

But even if she was very lucky to get her big break, in truth, as is the case with many success stories, it is easy to see why she was also the right person for the job.

Neighbours producers must have instantly recognised that her honest, easy manner was perfectly suited to a light-hearted, uncontroversial family soap. And they would have realised her girl-next-door prettiness, blonde tresses and curvy figure were guaranteed to win legions of admirers.

The decision to cast her certainly paid off, because she is so happy playing Steph she has no intention of joining the exodus from Neighbours to a pop career like Valance or Kylie Minogue.

"I don't feel I'm living in the shadow of Holly because we have such different aspirations, dreams and desires.

"Although I'm really proud of Holly doing what she wants to do, I would never want to progress to a singing career like her or Kylie Minogue. I'm too much of a drama queen to drop acting.

"Eventually it would be my dream to go on to feature films, and the ultimate would be a choreographed martial arts movie.

"I love martial arts - I used to do Wing Chun Kung Fu, and now I do yoga - and it would be amazing to do something like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

Although Carla is growing used to fame and all its trappings, there is one aspect of showbusiness that she has still to get to grips with - world travel.

She was in London for the National Television Awards last week when Neighbours was nominated for Most Popular Daytime Programme which it lost to Bargain Hunt.

It was only the second time Carla has ever left Australia. "I travelled over here with Janet Andrewartha, who plays Steph's mum Lyn, and when we stopped in Dubai airport she wandered off. I have to admit I feel very naive when I am abroad and I began to panic."

Carla is enjoying her time in London, sight-seeing and shopping. She says: "London is so different to home. I'm just blown away that there are so many people and no areas of spare land. Everything is so built up."

Balancing motherhood with an acting career has been difficult for Carla and is probably part of the reason she has been a little reluctant to leave her homeland.

But now she is hoping to make her youngest son understand why she went, and pave the way for a future trip.

"When I left, Jhye asked my mum Debbie where London was, but he doesn't really understand the concept of it being on the other side of the world.

"So I'm going to take loads of photos of typical sites like bobbies and red phone boxes so it's obvious I was somewhere completely different from home."