As any Wentworth fan knows Sue ‘Boomer’ Jenkins is not to be messed with.
Frequently the brute strength behind the show’s Top Dog, ‘Boomer’s’ intimidation is all part of the power games behind prison walls.
But actress Katrina Milosevic recently found life very nearly imitating art when she sprang into action following a road rage incident.
Milosevic was travelling with her partner last year in Melbourne when their car was hit by another driver who failed to stop.
“I called the police and whilst I was on the phone the car started doing erratic things, going all over the place. It hit two other cars, reversed and hit us in the front then tried to drive through a space about a metre wide,” she says.
“And you could see that (the car was) pinned.
“I could see the driver was about to get back in the car, and I said ‘No way!’
“I got out of the car and so did another lady. All the men were just on the road on the side, filming or not going near them.”
“I thought ‘Do I grab the keys?’”
Milosevic and a fellow female driver kept the driver talking, stopping him from driving off.
“I thought ‘Do I grab the keys?’ and I decided not to, so I just kept them talking,” she recalls.
“And the girlfriend was a ‘mini-Boomer’. I swear to God. I thought ‘I’m in familiar territory here!’
“‘Dude you’re not getting in the car. You’re not driving anymore!’” Milosevic shouted.
“There was a bit of aggression but I kept them talking ….. and then the police arrived and they arrested him straight away, because he was already on the run!
“No one was hurt so it was fine.
“But now he’s in the slammer, as we speak!”
Milosevic, who has played ‘Boomer’ since Season One, says she is often quick to react to situations, driven by a desire to help.
“I don’t know what it is. I can’t stand injustice. I think that’s my thing. It’s my real bugbear, if I feel like someone’s being unjustly treated,” she explains.
“I’m just a bit fiery. I think I take after my father like that I can. It takes me a lot to be angry, but when I get angry it’s not good. It’s not violent. It’s just more surprising than anything.”
The NIDA-trained actor nearly didn’t get the Wentworth role, which was originally a guest in Season One. But she added so much to her performance that she is now one of the show’s indelible principals.
Fans have watched her emotional arc, particularly with transgender character Maxine (Socratis Otto) including wanting to have a baby together. Milosevic has had significant input in the storyline.
“The Maxine and ‘Boomer’ stuff was my idea”
“The Maxine and ‘Boomer’ stuff was my idea in the first place. We actually had something else that was in place and then at the last minute they decided they couldn’t go ahead with that. I was in there going ‘Ok well what are we going to do?’” she continues.
“It’s never been said but ‘Boomer’ falls in love with the man that Maxine was. That was the genesis of this relationship and then they brought in the baby element in.
“I don’t know if I’d be so generous,” she says of the show’s writers, “It’s just an ethos that we’ve set up on this show from the get go.”
But there are also days when emotionally-draining scenes can take their toll on the best of them. Is it easy to wind down?
“It’s a really good question I was only thinking about this the other day,” Milosevic reflects.
“In series four, particularly towards the end, I had a lot of emotional stuff to do with Maxie and I had a day where I came home and I was so shaken up I thought ‘I’ve done something to myself now, I’m not going to ever come back.’
“I was really scared that I’d cried too much and I dredged up way too much in order to tap into it.
“But I was OK.
“We were warned at acting school about that emotional memory recall. But I can’t do it any other way. I just I have to really go there otherwise there’s no point.”
Season Five of Wentworth, notably without Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) is exploring new power shifts and testing fan loyalties.
“We sort of feel that something major has shifted, because it has. But at the same time it has to. It’s understandable the show has to go that way in order to crack open new avenues and stories and to breathe life into it in a new and exciting way.
“I don’t think people will be disappointed. It’s got a new dynamic now. It has. I think that if it’s done what they hoped it would do,” she says.
“It’s still ridiculously intense, from the get go.
“There’s stuff coming up that feels like it belongs in a finale or something but it’s massive and it just feels kind of right.
“She wants someone to love”
“You get to see a different side of ‘Boomer’ this series and it’s quite a positive kind of growth. Whether it stays that way. I don’t know. I doubt it. But this series that’s what it’s about for her. ”
And there is also more in store for the show’s resident brute strength that taps into her emotions, and showcases Milosevic’s own versatility.
“What ‘Boomer’ wants is not just a baby but she wants someone to love. And I also think someone to be the boss of, because she’s never been the boss of anyone,” she explains.
“And I mean that in a positive way. Someone that she can teach and nurture and look after.
“I think the reason she wanted a baby in the first place is just through loneliness and not knowing who she is and where she fits. And there is a change this series in that.”
Wentworth airs 8:30pm Tuesdays on Showcase.