On a show where characters figuratively and literally bleed in front of you, it’s nice to see such an invigorating character on Foxtel’s prison drama Wentworth. Meet Sue ‘Boomer’ Jenkins, a lovable goon currently serving her time behind the bars of the Wentworth Correctional Centre for women. Although Boomer sports a sometimes grisly appearance she’s really just a mush on the inside (and she makes some kickass prison grog, too.) Sidekick to lesbian heartthrob Franky Doyle (Nicole da Silva), Boomer provides that much needed humor to an overall dark and often heavy series.
Katrina Milosevic, who plays the hotheaded, yet quirky Booms, does a wonderful job originating a character that wasn’t in the original Prisoner series. And can we say that we are super stoked they added this awesome character to the reimagining because it would be a shame if we weren’t treated to the unique dynamic between Boomer and Franky. I mean, come on– those two are too cute for words.
Milosevic dished about her character on the hit Foxtel series, as well as where she sees Boomer after losing her best mate Franky to parole. I think we all have our arms up wondering where our favorites will be when Season 4 returns in 2016. Nonetheless, Milosevic not only had great things to say about her co-stars, and her time spent filming the show, but she even took the time to teach me how to say a few things in an Australian accent. Spoiler alert: I need some work! Ha.
Here comes the Booms!
MCKENZIE MORRELL: Let’s talk Wentworth! What about Boomer made you jump at the chance to do this role? Did you feel like you connect with her on a personal level?
KATRINA MILOSEVIC: Gee, that’s a really good question. I had learned about Wentworth a couple of years before it was made and when it was sort of finally ready— it kept getting pushed back for some reason— I had no idea that there was a character called Boomer and no idea what to expect with this production. It sounded really compelling and it sounded very female driven, so I was really interested. I was actually on tour with a Sydney theatre show with Cate Blanchett in London and I think I saw on Facebook or something that Wentworth was finally starting to look at casting— and I rang my agent going, “I want to go for it.” And then finally, I was able to audition for this role of Boomer. She wasn’t in the original Prisoner series so I had no clue as to who this person would be. When I finally saw the character breakdown, all that was really said was that she was in jail for bashing her social worker and she’s very strong, a little slow on the uptake and that was sort of it. No, I didn’t immediately go, “Hmm, that’s me.” I sort of thought that’s someone I’d like to try to be, that would be kind of cool and something different for me because having been around a bit in Australia, I’d never been cast in something like this before, so I was kind of praying that I’d make it. And I did [laughs]. I’m so grateful to them because it’s such a fun role.
MM: The cast is just great. Everybody is just really talented and passionate about what they do. With that said, how has it been working with Nicole da Silva? Boomer and Franky have this kinship that is so nice and sometimes so heartbreaking to watch.
KM: It’s funny. I was only thinking about things this morning, actually. Franky is such a savvy character and you kind of think, what on Earth would bring these two together to be so close? I think the main thing that brings them together is this sense of fun, this sense of humor that they have, and Franky’s desire to look after Boomer and Boomer’s desire to look after Franky. I think in this prison situation, I think that’s what brings them together. And working with Nicole is awesome. She’s so reactive, she’s very open. Like, when you’re acting with her, it’s easy to play and that’s such a gift and I’m so grateful to her. She’s made it really, really fun. It was a joy, it is a joy. They’re all a joy, as you said, and I know you probably hear that over and over again, but it’s a funny little cast. We are so intensely passionate about it and I’ve never really had that before. I’ve never been in a television show– well, not to put any other television cast down– but this is a very unique group of people and it has its good days and its bad days, but it’s always focused on the work, which is so lovely. And it’s a real gift when it’s acting that you love. Yeah. Oh God, I just rambled on there.
MM: [laughs] Not at all! That’s great. I think it really shows in the work and the final product. It’s just wonderful to see that dynamic come through on screen. Your character has a bit of a temper. With that said, what makes you in real life angry, or what are some of your pet peeves?
KM: Oh yeah, I’ve got a few. [laughs] I’m actually quite a passive person but I’ve always found about myself it takes a lot to get me angry— a lot. Like, it just has to be something that occurs over and over again. But when I get angry, I get really angry. But then I start crying pretty quickly, so it’s not a violent thing. [laughs] The things that get me upset, I think, are injustice, definitely. If I see injustice, I can’t fathom it and I just think it’s our responsibility to bring justice in any situation, however small it be. What else? When I hear people chewing beside me, that makes me angry. [laughs]
MM: [laughs] Just chewing anything, or like gum or just anything in general? If your mouth is kind of chomping, you’re just like, “No!”
KM: I just— I don’t know what it does to me. It does something to me, something that’s not good and I think evil thoughts. My brother does it to me deliberately and yeah, no. It’s not good. [laughs]
MM: Yeah, that’s not nice! So Season 3 was amazing and obviously you guys are going into Season 4 and you probably can’t talk much about that, so we’ll kind of stay away from it. But Franky and Boomer have their ups and downs throughout the season, and now that Franky is out of prison, how do you think Boomer is going to deal with that? Do you think she’s going latch onto someone else or she’s going to kind of shine? What are your personal thoughts on how your character is going to react to that situation because, obviously, it was huge impact on her?
KM: Yeah, it is, and I think she will internalize the complexity of what it means to not have Franky around and I think it will show in her behavior. I think that’s…that’s probably— [laughs]
MM: That’s all you can say, basically. [laughs]
KM: Yeah! [laughs]
MM: It’s alright. I’ve got you. I won’t try to get anything out of you. [laughs] So more about production and the process, what’s the hair and makeup process for Boomer? I’m sure you’re detangling your hair for hours after playing her for a day.
KM: Oh yeah. Unfortunately, it does not take long in the makeup chair for me. I sit down and they start painting me with red paint, like giving me sort of stipply skin. They give me more eyebrows, bushy eyebrows. They make my teeth manky, like they put brown wax on my teeth. Then they start on the hair and it’s just a bit of salt spray, and a bit of grease, and a bit of this, and a bit of that. Sometimes they play around with me and like to give me a bit of what’s called “pash rash,” which is the rash you get if you’ve been kissing someone with stubble. They have fun with me.
MM: [laughs] That’s great.
KM: I certainly overcompensate. Someone said to me yesterday, “Gosh, how many handbags have you got, Katrina?” and “You’re makeup is always so nice.” And I’m like, yeah, I overcompensate completely because I don’t get to wear it when we’re shooting. I don’t get to do anything nice to myself when we’re shooting, so I’m going to go to town when I’m not! [laughs]
MM: [laughs] That’s great. Now going into Season 4, which we’re all super stoked about, do you have any hopes for the show to explore Boomer’s past a little bit more?
KM: Yes, there’s always hope. Whether we do that, literally, it’s unsure. But I think bits and pieces of her past will probably come to the front. Hopefully, you’ll just keep learning about who this girl is and watch her sort of grow and change. She’s kind of open. She’s like a big child, she’s not very introspective, she’s very in the moment and very impressionable and quite reactionary as well. It doesn’t take much to push her buttons, which is why she’s landed herself in jail. I hope that you certainly get to see some more dimensions to her. But again, I don’t even know. [laughs]
MM: Or you know and you don’t want to tell us. [laughs] No, I’m kidding.
KM: No, I really don’t! I have no clue what to expect, really. It’s very exciting. Scary, but exciting.
MM: Oh yeah, for sure. Now, if you guys were to bring on any big guest stars on the show, who would you like to work with? The sky’s the limit. You have no boundaries, you can pick anybody.
KM: Oh my God. Who would I? Well, I know Rosie [O’Donnell] is game. That would be awesome. That would be so, so cool. I don’t know how she’d go with our accent— probably better than I go with my own accent. [laughs]
MM: If you could swap roles with another character, who would you swap with?
KM: Oh. Who would I swap with? Hmm. I guess… seeing Liz quite drunk, a lot, I think that would be interesting to explore why and how that happens. Yeah, so that might be interesting. Who else? I’d have a crack at Governor Ferguson, although I don’t think I’d be so great.
MM: [laughs] You never know. You never know until you try!
KM: [laughs] She’s such an alpha female and I’m naturally not, so. But that would be cool to have a go at that. They’re all great characters! I’d swap with any of them if I had to, sure.
MM: [laughs] Now, I love the scene where Boomer was trying to convince Maxine to father her children when she got out of prison. Did you and Socratis [Otto] have a lot of fun with those scenes?
KM: Yes, we did. Socratis and I have a lot of fun full stop. [laughs] We actually came up with the storyline ourselves because there had been another storyline penned for Boomer, and at the last minute, they couldn’t go ahead with it so it was kind of like, “Whoa, what do we do?” And Soc’s and I had a chat and we sort of came up with this notion with Maxine and Boomer, and I even got to write a scene in, I think, it was Episode 11. So that was an enormous privilege and it was really cool. Yeah, so we’re stoked and here’s hoping. We were lucky enough, we went to Europe last year and got to catch up in London and then in Germany. We have a lot of fun Soc’s and I.
MM: That’s awesome! Yeah, I told him he needs to get his butt over to the United States and come over to New York City so he can hang out with me. So, I think y’all should just take a joint Wentworth trip and just come and visit me.
KM: Let’s do it! I’m up for that, absolutely. That would be so much fun.
MM: Yes, I’m so down for this! Now, obviously, the show has a lot of intense material and Boomer is really a breath of fresh air. Do you think that’s why the audience loves her so much? I mean, I got so many questions for you and everyone was saying how much they love Boomer. Do you think it’s because she’s so quirky and a break in the madness?
KM: Aww, that’s a great question. I wonder! It’s nice to hear that people like her. From my perspective, I think she —when I read scripts— that she, the writers give her sometimes the voices of what everyone’s thinking, which is a really big privilege as well. She can be the every man and she often gets to because she has difficulty processing complex situations, she tends to simplify things and people probably then go, “Yeah, it’s a relief.” [laughs] But yeah, she’s a funny chicken. When we are dealing with such high stakes and intense psychological trauma often, and physical trauma, when someone can simplify things the way Boomer does, it’s probably a great relief to people.
MM: I think that’s great, and the character is wonderful. I obviously enjoy her as well. Now, did you ever think that Wentworth would just take off the way that it has with supporters worldwide? People are just loving this. Even in the U.S. they’re writing articles that say, “Watch Wentworth instead of Orange is the New Black.” I think that obviously, coming from over here, that’s saying something. Did you guys have any idea that this would just break out like it did?
KM: No, not a clue. When we started, we held no such aspirations. Well, maybe some did. But we were just too concerned about getting this show going and hoping that there was chemistry between us all and that the teams, all the departments would work well together. We just did the absolute best we could. Everyone worked so hard to do their job to their best ability. After Series 1 when the response in Australia was really positive, and then hearing that it had been sold to all these countries—I know lots of shows get sold to lots of different countries, so that’s not unusual. But I think the thing for me that’s unusual, and this is because I’m old probably, is that it’s so… [laughs]
MM: Oh, stop. [laughs]
KM: [laughs] It’s true! Like there’s Twitter and there’s Facebook stuff, I don’t know. But the response is instantaneous and people can talk straight to you, so it’s kind of overwhelming and that’s hard to get my head around. That’s a brand new world, but it’s really cool. It’s bizarre. So no, to answer your question— no, we had no idea. We still don’t. [laughs]
MM: Right, I know. You guys are still at the tip of the iceberg and it’s going to come around and it will hit you. But I have a couple random questions I like to throw in before we conclude. I’m obsessed with donuts, that’s my thing. If you were a flavored donut, what flavor would you be?
KM: Good question. I reckon I’d be strawberry. Not that I particularly like… I mean, I do, but that just pops into my head and I don’t know why. Probably because it’s pink and I’m a pink kind of girl [laughs]
MM: Well, that’s great. I mean, you can’t go wrong with a strawberry donut! So now, what are three items you never leave home without?
KM: Wallet, phone, makeup.
MM: Nice. Now, not to put you on the spot or anything, but can you say something in your best American accent?
KM: Oh, I can try. What should I say? Um…[in best American accent] “Hello.” [laughs] “My name’s Katrina.”
MM: [Laughs] I have to say though that I’m pretty good at British accents, but I have yet to master an Australian accent and that is something that has plagued me for the majority of my life and one day I will get it.
KM: I’ll help you! What’s a word you want to say?
MM: Um. Hmm. What is a word I want to say? What about… can I say a sentence or are we pushing it?
KM: No, no. Say a sentence.
MM: Alright. What about “I love Wentworth”? Let’s try to say that.
KM: OK. “I…”
KM: OK, so you have to flatten your tongue out. Because you guys have a really muscular tongue when it comes to speaking, that’s how that America sound gets made. But ours is very flat. So if you just don’t open your lips too much and don’t open your teeth too much, you’re pretty much Australian. Give it a go for me. [laughs]
MM: I don’t think I can do it.
[Audio below of this piece of the conversation]
KM: Oh, you can, McKenzie! You can! Just don’t open your teeth too much and just say “I love Wentworth.”
MM: [in best Aussie accent] I love Wentworth. [silence] Nope.
KM: Good! That was good, especially Wentworth. That was really good.
MM: I tried, I tried. Sometimes, like certain words I can, but I literally— I’m such a nerd and I try to teach myself things, whether it’s Sign Language or how to talk with a British accent. I will sit there and listen to Australian accents or something and try to emulate it. I’m a weirdo, obviously.
KM: Not at all. I’m the same. I was listening to your accent and trying to do it in my head, too. [laughs] It’s fascinating. I get the fascination.
MM: Oh yeah. There’s just a sophistication, I feel, about your accent.
MM: Yeah! It’s always like, “Oh, we don’t have an accent.” And I would not think I have an accent, but somebody coming in would be like, “Yeah, you have an accent.” It’s just fascinating to me how dialects work, but that’s a whole other conversation.
KM: Oh, same! Oh my God, that’s a whole other conversation. I’m obsessed with that stuff too. Absolutely obsessed.
MM: That’s awesome!
KM: When I went to uni after I finished high school—uni is university— I studied linguistics for a year because I was that obsessed. I just wanted to know how it all worked. Actually, it blows your mind when it gets broken down, but yeah, that’s a whole other conversation.
MM: [laughs] So now, lastly, we’ve come to the end of the conversation. Why should people who might not have seen the show yet tune it?
KM: That’s a really, really good question. I would say tune in to watch people figuratively and literally bleed in front of you. I think the show is incredibly relatable. I think you end up thinking anyone can find themselves in any one of the positions those women, particularly, are in. It’s a great tool to learn about yourself. That’s what I find when I watch it. I often get sucked into the storylines watching it and I learn a lot about how fragile we are, but also how strong we are. That’s what I would say.
MM: Well, this has been wonderful. I just love you guys and I appreciate you guys taking the time to talk to me.
KM: Oh, thank you for taking the time to talk to us!
You can catch up with Katrina Milosevic on Twitter: @KatrinaMilosevi