Harley Bonner, who has already been nicknamed “the hot doc” by Australian admirers, is considering seeking help from his Kiwi pal Scott Smart.
Bonner, who portrays Dr Marty Walker on Shortland Street, and Smart, who plays him on Neighbours, worked together on a commercial in Australia and are now, ironically, portraying soap doctors on opposite sides of the Tasman.
“We’ve remained in touch on Instagram,” Bonner adds, hinting to a potential ‘hot doc’ showdown.
Bonner – as trauma specialist Dr Logan Bennett – is going to win hands down when it comes to entrances.
While Bonner rappelled from a helicopter on to the site of a vehicle collision and helped save the life of Summer Bay favourite Dean Thompson (Patrick O’Connor), Smart’s character made his Shortland Street debut as an emergency room patient.
Logan was racing around Summer Bay on a jet ski in a matter of days, but Bonner says he quickly discovered it wasn’t a good idea to refer to himself as the show’s new action guy.
“I muttered something along such lines to one of the girls,” says the narrator. He laughs as he recalls her saying, “Oh, get over yourself.”
In Australia, Bonner, 30, is regarded as practically soap royalty. Carla portrayed Steph Scully in Neighbours from 1999 to 2010 and again from 2015 to 2018.
Then, in 2013, he joined the Melbourne-based drama as adolescent swimmer Josh Willis, who had a romance with Naomi Canning, portrayed by Morgana O’Reilly from Mean Mums.
Bonner left after three years and almost 700 episodes to return to the United States, but five years later, he is still creating waves in Summer Bay.
He recalls, “I’d auditioned a bunch of times throughout the years, maybe five times or something like that.”
“I believe I would have done it regardless of the role, but I just happened to get a character that was extremely exciting and a lot of fun to portray — a character who enables me to exhibit a cheekier, more fun-loving, less serious side of myself than Neighbours allowed me to express.”
Logan travels to Summer Bay with his patient Dean, where he soon re-acquaints himself with his former Doctors Without Borders coworker, neurosurgeon Christian Green (Ditch Davey). He also strikes up a sexual relationship – sort of – with Mac, the unlucky-in-love restaurateur (Emily Weir).
Bonner wants to keep what happens next a mystery, but he does indicate that Logan has a few surprises up his sleeve.
“We’re going to shoot some of the revelation right now, so fans will have to wait approximately five months to learn more about Logan.”
The actor, who spent most of his youth watching his mother work on Neighbours, understands the demands of working on a hit show like Home And Away better than most.
Growing up with a mother who was in people’s living rooms five days a week was “really pretty simple,” he adds.
“In primary school, you’d get the odd pieces here and there, just kids being kids and saying s….
“However, I believe it drove me to figure out what I value and what I care about in terms of other people’s opinions.
“And, in general, other people’s opinions are just that – and sometimes rather ill-informed.”
Because he had a renowned mother, the actor claims he soon learned to recognise those who merely wanted to befriend him.
He adds, “That’s worked in my favour.” “I can tell who’s faking it and who’s not.”
Meanwhile, Bonner feels that Home And Away, which has soared in Australia’s ratings this year, has outgrown its soap moniker.
“When I initially came here, I referred to it as a soap, but one of the producers said, ‘We’re trying to angle it more as a drama,’ and based on what we’ve just done and what you’re about to watch, I think it stands its own in the drama space,” he adds.
When pressed to pick between Summer Bay and Neighbours’ hometown Erinsborough, Bonner is diplomatic.
“I’d suggest Home And Away for the ordinary individual who didn’t grow up watching one of the shows,” he says. “However, it’s difficult to match liking, familiarity, homeliness, and all those kinds of qualities that I experienced with Neighbours.
“They’re extremely similar, but they’re also completely different experiences,”