Australian Actors Who’ve Made Hollywood Their Own!

Did you know Margot Robbie worked three jobs simultaneously at the age of 16 to make ends meet? More on these Australian actors who are not only leading men and women of Australia, but also of Hollywood!


Russell Crowe

russell crowe

Eva Rinaldi [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

General Maximus (Gladiator), Professor John Nash (A Beautiful Mind), Robin Hood, Inspector Javert (Les Miserable) – this is how we’ve known Russell Crowe. It was Gladiator though got him known internationally and an Academy Award.

Russell Ira Crowe was born on 7th April 1964 in Wellington, New Zealand to parents who worked as film set caterers. His family moved to Australia when he was 4 years old. However they moved back to New Zealand during his high school years. He lives in Sydney, Australia. Though he has applied for Australian citizenship, he’s been rejected all times.

Crowe began performing as a musician in the early 1980s under the name ‘Russ Le Roq’. His best single “I Want To Be Like Marlon Brando” did not do too well in the music industry. 21 year old Crowe returned to Australia and started pursuing his career in acting. During this period, he appeared in several Australian shows and musicals. His first movie role was provided in The Crossing (1990).

Before moving on to American films, Crowe acted in a Canadian movie. His first significant films in Hollywood came when he starred with Denzel Washington in Virtuosity.


Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman

Eva Rinaldi [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Kidman has dual citizenship. Her parents were on educational visas when Nicole was born. She was nicknamed “Hokulani”, which means heavenly star in Hawaiian. The family returned to Australia when Nicole was 4.

Nicole was enrolled at ballet when she was 3. She began acting in primary and high school, and eventually became known for her acting skills. She quotes her inspiration for acting came from Margaret Hamilton’s performance as the Wicked Witch in the Wizard Of Oz. Kidman studied acting at Philip street theatre in Sydney along with Naomi Watts, her high school friend.

Nicole Kidman gained international recognition for her role in Dead Calm (1989). She followed it up with the highest grossing movie of those days in Days Of Thunder (1990) opposite Tom Cruise. Her other important role from her early days is that from Batman Forever (1995). Her most successful period has been from 1995-2003. Her musical talents are verily displayed in Moulin Rouge (2001).

The People magazine in 2001 branded Nicole Kidman as the World’s Most Beautiful Person. She was the highest paid actress in Hollywood during 2006. Kidman’s role as Virginia Woolf in The Hours fetched her Academy Award, becoming the first Australian actress to do so!


Naomi Watts

Naomi Watts

Georges Biard [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Naomi Watts was born in Kent, England on 28th September 1968. Her mother is of Australian origin. Her family moved to Sydney when she was 4. During her high school years, Watts performed in plays. It was during her school years that she befriended Nicole Kidman, who was later to become her pillar of support.

She was cast alongside Nicole Kidman in Flirting (1991), an Australian release. She moved to LA in hope of finding more fortune. She was introduced to many agents through Kidman but she missed several roles to other actresses.

Watts got her first lead role in the horror movie Children of the Corn: The Gathering. However it was her in Mullholand Drive (2001) that gave her breakthrough and several acclaims. Her characters in The Ring film series and King Kong have long become her identity.


Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman

Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The powerful Wolverine has his roots in Australia. You would’ve notice his Aussie accent once in a while slippin’ in on stage!

Hugh Jackman was born in Sydney to English parents. He graduated in 1991 with a BA in Communications from University of Technology, Sydney. He also took up drama courses for added credits. During the following years, Jackman did stage, musicals and television.

His first international breakthrough came when he performed in Oklahoma! at the Royal National Theater, London. This performance immediately put him in the spotlight. He was first cast as Wolverine in 2000 in the X-Men series.


Chris Hemsworth

Chris Hemsworth

 Ronald Woanderivative work: RanZag  [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Chris Hemsworth was born in Melbourne. His earliest memories are of cattle stations up in the Australian Outback. His family kept moving in and out of Melbourne and the Outback but most of his childhood was in Melbourne.

He started starring in Australian television series in 2002. He then moved to Sydney to appear in 171 episodes of the series Home and Away till 2007. Hemsworth figured as a contestant in the fifth season of Dancing with the Stars Australia in 2006.

He appeared in the opening scenes of Star Trek in 2009. His first movie on American soil was Ca$h (2010). However it is his character of the superhero Thor that has brought him cult status. The People magazine in 2014 named him its 2014 Sexiest Man Alive.


Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett

By Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Cate Blanchett was born in the Melbourne. Her father was a United States Navy petty officer.  and died When Blanchett was 10, leaving her mother to raise the family on her own.   During her teens, Blanchett dressed in masculine sense and also experimented goth and punk phases. She shaved her head at one point!

Blanchett pursued Economics and Fine Arts at the University of Melbourne but had to drop out to travel abroad. She played an American cheerleader as an extra in an Egyptian boxing movie, as she was in need of money. On returning to Australia, she enrolled in the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Sydney, to pursue an acting career and graduated from NIDA in 1992. She continued doing stage roles. She received the Sydney Theatre Critics’ Best Newcomer Award for her performance in Kafka Dances and won Best Actress for her performance in Oleann. This made her the first actor to win both categories in the same year. Blanchett made her feature film debut in Paradise Road (1997), co-starring Glenn Close.

Her first leading role was in Oscar and Lucinda (1997), opposite Ralph Fiennes, which earned her first AFI Award nomination as Best Leading Actress. Her first prestigious international role was as Elizabeth I of England in the acclaimed film Elizabeth (1998), directed by Shekhar Kapur. The film flung her to stardom, and her performance reaped wide respect, earning her the Golden Globe Award and (BAFTA), and her first Screen Actors Guild and Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. She won her first Academy Award in 2005 for Best Supporting Actress for her acclaimed portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator. This made Blanchett the first actor to collect an Academy Award for playing an Oscar-winning actor. Cate Blanchett is also the only Australian actor to win two acting Oscars.


Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson was born in New York. Gibson’s paternal grandmother was born in Australia to Irish parents. A lawsuit against the New York Central Railroad left his father being awarded $145,000 for injuries. Following this, his family relocated to Australia when Gibson was 12.

Gibson began studying acting at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney. While studying, he made his film debut in the film Summer City in 1977. Upon graduation, he immediately began work on Mad Max (1999). He continued performing as a stage actor. in 1982 Gibson acted in Gallipoli, a World War I drama. This earned Gibson a Best Actor Award from the Australian Film Institute and also a Hollywood agent. The River was Gibson’s first American film. In 1987 he played the lead role in Lethal Weapon that helped him cement his place as Hollywood’s leading man!


Margot Robbie

Margot Robbie

Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Margot Robbie was born in Queensland, Australia on 2 July 1990. Robbie worked three jobs simultaneously at the age of 16 to make ends meet. She studied drama at school and graduated from Somerset College.

At 17, she moved to Melbourne to take up acting professionally. She starred in two feature filmsI.C.U. and Vigilante in 2007. Robbie also acted in commercials, guest and regular roles in television series such as Neighbors. She was nominated for Most Popular New Female Talent at the Australian Logie Awards and Favorite Hottie at the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards.

In 2011, Robbie moved to LA. She auditioned for the new series of Charlie’s Angels but the producers presented her a role in the drama series Pan Am co-starring Christina Ricci. She was cast in the romcom About Time (2013). However her breakthrough came with The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). For her performance, Margot Robbie was nominated for the  MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance and also won the Empire Award for Best Newcomer.


Honorary Mentions

Other Australian actors – From their popularity, it seems like Margot Robbie and Rose Byrne are set to become regular Hollywood’s A list. The late Heath Ledger is worth mentioning as he was widely popular with the ladies for his hunky looks and locks!

Afterword

I can’t help but notice a couple of facts that repeatedly showed up while writing this article – National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) and Sydney! It goes to show the genius of NIDA and how commercially significant  Sydney is – so much so that they keep producing world class actors! So if you’re among other aspiring Australian actors, get your ass to Sydney/NIDA and take it on from there!


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