With everyone adopting an American accent in order to star in the big blockbuster films, viewers are often surprised too discover down the line that actors are British, Canadian, Australian, or some other nationality.
As a native Australian, I get a little excited when Australia actors make it big, especially when I remember them from bad Australian sitcoms! Here is a list of 20 Australian actors, some of which you may have known were from down under and others not. Some of them are among the highest paid stars in Hollywood.
Australians of a certain age will remember Eric Bana (which is an abbreviation of Banadinovic) from comedy sketch show Full Frontal, but it wasn’t long before Hollywood came calling. He got his bib break playing the titular role in 2003’s The Hulk, which was a flop, but still opened doors for the actor. After that he starred in Troy, Munich, Star Trek (2009) as the villain Nero, and has recently made a name for himself as the titular character in the series Dirty John. Viewers may have suspected that he wasn’t American after his terrible American accent in Black Hawk Down.
Born in England, but raised in Australian, her big break came in 1998 when she played Queen Elizabeth I in the biopic Elizabeth. After that she featured in many films, but probably became a household name when she played Galadriel in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. She also featured as Hela in the Marvel film Thor: Ragnarok in 2017. Her film credits are far to numerous to mention as she has appeared in over 7 0 films (plus 20 theatre productions). She is among Hollywood’s highest paid stars.
Byrne has become a well known name in Hollywood thanks to her roles as the annoying Helen Harris in Bridesmaids and has Professor X’s love interest Moira MacTaggert in the new X-Men films. She also appeared opposite Glenn Close in the tv show Damages from 2007-2012. She started out with bit roles on Australian tv until she landed the leading role in The Goddess of 1967, for which she won the Venice Film Festival award for best actress. This was followed by a small role in the new Star Wars movies, and Hollywood came calling. She has had memorable roles in I Capture the Castle (2003) and Troy (2004).
Born in New Zealand, Crowe lived most of his life in Australia and is considered an Australian actor. While his Hollywood career began ten years earlier, after featuring in many Australian programmes and films, his big break came with the lead role in Gladiator in 2000. After that he shows his action chops with leading roles in A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man, and his singing ability in Les Miserables. While some of Crowe’s off-screen antics have drawn controversy, his talent has never been contested.
Edgerton was a big name in Australian film and television before breaking into Hollywood, in part thanks to his minor roles in the new Star Wars movies released around the turn of the millennium. He is usually cast in supporting roles rather than leads, but always gives compelling performances. Early in his career he starred in King Arthur, alongside Clive Owen and Keira Knightley. More recently he featured in Netflix’s film The King, on which he also worked as a writer. He has a variety of writing, directing and executive producing credits to his name.
The original Robin Hood and Hollywood bad boy, Flynn was born in Tasmania, the island state of Australian, but he is also a citizen of both the UK and the US. He always starred as the charismatic lead, and as well as playing Hoof starred in blockbusters such as Captain Blood (1935) and The Light Brigade (1936). He was known as a womanizer leading to the phrase “in like Flynn”. This became less finny when he was charged with statutory rape in 1942. He still went on to have a fruitful career, though irresponsible spending left him bankrupt.
Best known for playing Thor in the Marvel universe, he got his break as a regular character on the popular Australian sitcom Neighbours, where he appeared in more than 4,000 episodes. His first Hollywood role was actually playing Captain Kirk’s father in the 2009 Star Trek reboot. Along with his Marvel role, he also starred in Snow White and the Huntsman and its Sequel, the Ghostbusters reboot and the Men In Black reboot. He is currently one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood.
Younger brother to Chris, Liam Hemsworth also got his start on Neighbours, though he only appeared in 25 episodes. He is probably best known for his role in the Hunger Games trilogy, and his romance and brief marriage to singer Miley Cyrus. His film career has been much more eclectic than his brother’s, starring in The Expendables franchise, the Independence Day reboot, and comedy Isn’t it Romantic opposite fellow Australian Rebel Wilson.
A man that has certainly proven that he can do anything! He stated out singing and dancing as a stage actor before landing the role of the ultimate hard man Wolverine in the X-Men franchise. This kicked off a long and successful Hollywood career. He starred as the titular character in Van Helsing, and starred in many acclaimed films such as The Prestige and Deception, while continuing to reprise his role as Wolverine in several films. He returned to his roots when he starred in 2012’s Les Miserables, and took on a musical again with 2017’s The Greatest Showman on Earth. He is truly a diverse talent.
While sadly Nicole Kidman will probably always be known as the woman who was married to Tom Cruise, the Australian beauty also has some amazing acting roles under her belt. He big breaks came starring opposite cruise in Days of Thunder and Far and Away, but she quickly made name for herself starring in 1995’s Batman Forever, and then more serious roles in films such as The Others, Cold Mountain, and playing Virginia Woolf in The Hours. She even showed us that she could sing and dance in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge. She has definitely gained respect as one of the most compelling actresses of her generation.
Born to play the bad guy, McMahon got his Hollywood break playing the bad guy in the 2005 Fantastic Four flop, and then made himself a household name as Christian Troy in Nip/Tuck. Some of us might also remember him from his role as Cole Turner in Charmed. He started out on Australian sit come Home and Away, which he starred on for two years. He has worked consistently over the years, usually playing supporting but memorable roles.
Born in England but raised in Australia, Purcell is best known for his role as Lincoln Burrows, the older of the brothers on Prison Break, and for playing Mick Rory in Legends of Tomorrow. He only really had bit roles on Australian television before breaking Hollywood through the action world, featuring in Equilibrium (2002) and Blade Trinity (2004).
Like many Australian actresses, Robbie paid her dues appearing on Australian soap opera Neighbours from 2008-2011 before heading off to Hollywood. She first got major notice for her role opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street. After that she went on to sat as Harley Quinn in the Suicide Squad and its spin off Birds of Prey, and as Tonya Harding in the biopic I, Tonya. She also received a lot of acclaim for her role as Queen Elizabeth I in Mary Queen of Scots and Sharon Tate in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.
Geoffrey Rush is one of only 24 people who have won the triple crown in acting: an Academy Award, a Primetime Emmy Award and a Tony Award. He mostly appeared on stage until he starred in the 1996 film Shine, for which he won an academy award. Since then he has had many prestigious and memorable roles. He gave a creepy but empathetic performance as the Marquis de Sade in Quills, out strutted Johnny Depp as Captain Hector Barbossa in Pirates of the Caribbean, did tribute to Peter Sellers in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, and played Lionel Logue opposite Colin Firth in The King’s Speech. Throughout his time at the top of Hollywood he also continued to appear on stage and in Australian films.
While Taylor is still relatively new to Hollywood, she is fast making a name for herself appearing in notable films such as Transformers (2007) and Shutter (2008). She also features as the best friend of Jessica Jones Trish Walker, in the Netflix series Jessica Jones, Like Cage and The Defenders. She started out playing the main role in the Australian tv series headLand, but quickly moved on to Hollywood. She had a memorable guest role on Grey’s Anatomy, and featured in the 2011 short-lived Charlie’s Angels reboot.
Torv starred in some popular Australian TV shows in the early noughties, including The Secret Life of Us and McLeod’s Daughters, before making her Hollywood break. She is now best known for playing Olivia Dunham in the Sci-Fi series Fringe, and now Doctor Wendy Carr in the Netflix hit Mindunter.
Wasikowska came to broad public attention when she played the lead role in the 2010 Alice in Wonderland reboot, and since then her career has only grown. She played Jane Eyre opposite Michael Fassbender in the remake f the classic tale, starred as Emma Bovary in Madame Bovary, and as Judy in Judy and Punch. She is now an acclaimed director as well.
Hugo Weaving has made a role for himself as a character actor who always appears in important supporting roles. He was Agent Smith in The Matrix, Elrond in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger. If you want to see Weaving taking the lead and doing something completely different, go back and watch him in The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, in which he leads a troupe of drag queens across the Australian dessert.
Our beloved Faramir in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Wenham was Australian film royalty before heading to Hollywood. He featured in all the critically acclaimed art house films to come out of Australia in the 1990s. In Hollywood he is known for his roles in Van Helsing, 300, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Rebel Wilson started out on the Australian comedy circuit starring in comedy series Pizza, sketch comedy show The Wedge, and writing and starring in her own musical comedy Bogan Pride. She was popular when she landed in Hollywood, quickly landing the roles of Brynn in Bridesmaids, and Fat Amy in the Pitch Perfect film series. She has gone on to lead her own Netflix comedy movie Isn’t it Romantic. We will next see her combining her singing and acting talents in the theatrical release of Cats.