30 Australian actors who conquered Hollywood
Yvonne Strahovski is known as the leading lady of the series 'Chuck' (2007-2012) and one of the major villains of 'The Handmaid's Tale'. Born in 1982 in Sydney, she has been quite lucky in her acting career. Right after graduating in Contemporary Arts in 2003, she landed her first roles on Australian television. Then, after trading Australia for Hollywood, it took her only three days to get cast for 'Chuck.'
Born in 1979 in Sydney, Rose Byrne became an internationally known face of television with the criminal thriller series 'Damages.' She and Glenn Close played two competing and ruthless lawyers in the series from 2007 to 2010. Byrne is also known for Hollywood successes like 'Get Him to the Greek' (2010) and the 'Insidious' (2010-2018) franchise.
Isla Fisher got her big break in Hollywood with the romantic comedy 'Wedding Crashers' (2005). You may also know her from 'Confessions of a Shopaholic' (2009). The actress was born in Oman but raised in Perth, Australia. She has also starred in the TV series 'Arrested Development' (2013-2019).
This movie legend was born in Perth in 1979 and died in 2008 in New York City. He got a posthumous Academy Award for his interpretation of the Joker in 'The Dark Knight' (2008). Heath Ledger's international fame had started with '10 Things I hate about you' in 1999, and his role of Ennis Del Mar in 'Brokeback Mountain' (2005) was also widely acclaimed.
One of the best known Aussies in Hollywood is of course Russell Crowe. Actually, he was born in New Zealand, but he lived most of his life in Australia. His big international break came with 'Gladiator' (2000), which won him an Oscar as well as immortal fame.
Born in Melbourne in 1969, Cate Blanchett described her younger self to the Daily Mail as "part extrovert, part wallflower." She made a lasting international impression with her role as Elizabeth I of England in the film 'Elizabeth' (1998). Commercial success came with the 'Lord of the Rings' franchise, and she won Oscars for her roles in 'The Aviator' (2004) and 'Blue Jasmine' (2013).
This Avenger was born in Melbourne in 1983. He began as a TV actor in the Australian series 'Home and Away' but made the step to Hollywood in 2009 with 'Star Trek.' His role of Thor in the Marvel superhero movies made him one of the most popular and best paid actors of the film industry.
Margot Robbie also began her career in an Australian soap series. Born in Dalby, Queensland, in 1990, she had her big break in Hollywood as Leonardo DiCaprio's wife in 'The Wolf of Wall Street' (2013). Vanity Fair praised Robbie for mastering the Brooklyn accent in that film.
Born in New York in 1956 with Irish and American parents, Mel Gibson can still be considered an Aussie actor. His family moved to Sydney when Mel was 12 years old, and it was there that he started his acting career. Gibson definitively conquered Hollywood with 'Braveheart' (1995), which he produced, directed, and starred.
It's Michael J. 'Crocodile' Dundee, the Australian legend who visited and startled New York City in 1986, and then again in 1988. Paul Hogan's 'Crocodile Dundee' got two sequels and international acclaim for a star who had already conquered Australia with his own TV program, the Paul Hogan Show. He's the oldest Aussie in this list, born in Sydney in 1939.
A talented and confident actress, Toni Collette never finished acting school and went directly to work with Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins in the film 'Spotswood' (1992). International renown came with 'The Sixth Sense' (1999), while her role as the mother of 'Little Miss Sunshine' (2006) is equally memorable. Here we see her in the 2021 production 'Stowaway'.
Guy Pearce was born in the UK in 1967 but grew up in Geelong, in the Australian state of Victoria. Having begun his acting career in the Australian soap 'Neighbours' in the 1980s, he made the leap to Hollywood in the 1990s. Especially memorable is his leading role in 'Memento' (2000, image), where he played a man with extreme short-term memory loss trying to find his wife's murderer.
This man has made the Guinness Book of Records. He is the actor with the "longest career as a live-action Marvel superhero," playing Wolverine in the 'X-Men' franchise from 2010 to 2018. He's also a gifted musical star, with the film version of 'Les Misérables' (2012) and 'The Greatest Showman' (2017) as examples.
Liam is the youngest of the three talented Hemsworth brothers. Born in Melbourne in 1990, he got his breakthrough in Hollywood with the part of Gale Hawthorne in 'The Hunger Games' (2012).
Joel Edgerton's break in Hollywood came with the 'Star Wars' franchise in 2002 and 2005. In Australia, he was known for the TV series 'The Secret Life of Us' (2001). Joel is originally from Blacktown, New South Wales, where is was born in 1974.
Also from Sydney, but from a different generation, the film and TV veteran Jacki Weaver (1947) made an important mark with 'Animal Kingdom' (2010). Her role of the matriarch in a criminal family earned her Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. Two years later, she played another impressive mum, taking care of the troubled Bradley Cooper in 'Silver Linings Playbook' (2012). Both she and her husband in the film, Robert De Niro, were nominated for an Academy Award.
An Australian superstar who needs little introduction. We can point at several career turning points for this Hawaiian-born, Sydney-raised actress. In 1990, she starred with Tom Cruise in 'Days of Thunder,' after which the co-stars got married. In 2002, she won an Oscar for her leading role in 'The Hours.' But 'Moulin Rouge' (2002) and 'The Others' (2001) are also unforgettable.
The Mentalist Simon Baker is from Ballina, New South Wales, although his cradle stood in Tasmania in 1969. He, too, starred in 'Home and Away' before trying the big screen with 'L.A. Confidential' (1997). His breakthrough was once again on TV, with 'The Mentalist' in 2008.
Eric Bana was born in Melbourne in 1968. A stand-up comedian, he surprised friends and foes as the Hulk (2003) and as Hector in 'Troy' (2004). But for those who had paid attention, his leading role in 'Chopper' (2000), a film based on the autobiography of a violent criminal, was the real turning point in Bana's acting career.
This actor, born in England in 1976 and raised in Perth, Australia, is best known for his role as marine Jack Sully visiting the Pandora planet in 'Avatar' (2009). No less than four sequels have been planned for this blockbuster.
Unforgettable as speech therapist Lionel Logue in 'The King's Speech' (2010), Australian actor Geoffrey Rush had already been recognized for his talent in 1996. That year he won an Academy Award for his leading role of pianist David Helfgott in 'Shine.'
This former roller skating champion was born in Perth in 1976. She gained success in Australia with 'Home and Away' before making Hollywood headlines with 'The Amityville Horror' in 2005. This remake of the 1979 classic led to a number of roles for her in the thriller and horror genre.
She's the face of the modern classic 'Mulholland Drive' (2001) from director David Lynch. Naomi Watts was born in the UK in 1968 but moved to Australia when she was 14 years old. You may also know her from 'King Kong' (2005), 'The Impossible' (2012), or 'Birdman' (2014).
This Australian film heavyweight had her first international breakthrough in 1984, with an Oscar-nominated leading role in 'Passage to India.' She worked together with actor/director Woody Allen in several movies, and for one of them, 'Husbands and Wives' (1992), she won an Academy Award.
Born in Melbourne in 1981, Luke Hemsworth makes the headlines less often than his brothers Liam and Chris. Nevertheless, he has triumphed in Hollywood with the sci-fi series 'Westworld' (2016-2019).
This actress and model was born in Adelaide in 1986. She was working in a clothing store when someone approached her to join the cast of the Australian film '2:37' (2006). A big break was the movie 'Warm Bodies' (2013) in which Teresa falls in love with a zombie.
A rising star in showbusiness, Leila George got the acting genes from her father Vincent D'Onofrio. She is half American, half Australian, born in Sydney in 1992. Leila conquered Sean Penn's heart (though they have divorced already) and you may also remember her from the series 'Animal Kingdom' (2016).
This man could also have become a sheep-shearer, like his father in Winton, Queensland. Instead, he is starring in films like 'Zero Dark Thirty' (2012) and 'Mudbound' (2017) - both of which made him a favourite among critics.
She's Hannah Baker, the central figure in the captivating Netflix series '13 Reasons Why' (2017-2018). Born in Perth in 1996, Katherine Langford always wanted to be an actress. She auditioned for the role of Hannah over Skype and got this huge part before ever setting a foot in Hollywood.
David Wenham, born in Sydney in 1965, had a successful career on Australian television before making international fame with the 'Lord of the Rings' franchise (2002) and '300' (2006). He has also starred in the TV series 'Top of the Lake' (2013-2017).