When she discovered her co-star Mel Gibson was a notorious practical joker, Bojana Novakovic plotted to pull one on him before he could get her. "He was having a suit fitting, so I went in and introduced myself as Julie, a seamstress," says Novakovic, 28, who plays Gibson's daughter in the thriller Edge of Darkness. "Later that day, I said, 'Hi, I'm Bojana.' And he went, 'You got me,' and laughed."That wasn't all that broke the ice: like Novakovic, the 54-year-old megastar had serious stage fright. "On the first day we were both shitting ourselves!" says the Melburnian, whose credits include last year's horror flick Drag Me to Hell, Showcase's raunchy series Satisfaction and the ABC-TV drama that landed her a 2004 AFI award, Marking Time. "I told someone I was nervous and they said he was more scared than me. He hadn't acted for eight years and I had never acted with Mel Gibson!"
The Mad Max star - one of the many bigwigs who had to approve Hollywood newcomer Novakovic's casting - was clearly impressed. "There's a sense of gravity about Bojana," said Gibson. "She's a presence. You remember her."RELATED: Movie Review: Edge of Darkness
When she can, the Serbian-born actress, who was 7 when her family immigrated to Sydney, spends time with her boyfriend of a year - "He works in a different industry" - and sees theatre and music with friends who aren't performers. "One actor in my life is enough, and that's me," she says. "With actors it's too easy to go into this world of complaining. Someone will always be better, richer, more loved, do more work. Those dynamics don't interest me. The friends I hang out with, we create our own work rather than complain about acting."
Which doesn't leave much time for frivolity. "Spare time? What's that?" says the actress with a laugh. "In my spare time I'm writing for theatre." In 2003, she set up Ride On Theatre, a theatre company she dreams one day will have "a cafe upstairs. Mum [Biljana Novakovic] is a ceramic artist and people can eat out of her bowls." And they might just meet a seamstress named Julie.Reported by Sarah Marinos