Australia has had some extremely talented exports in the world of film-making. Some of the most famous actors and actresses in the world are Australians, and here we profile some of them for you :
Nicole Kidman is probably one of the most well-known actresses in Hollywood today. While she is Australian, she was actually born in Honolulu, Hawaii while her parents were there temporarily on student visas. She started her acting career quite early, at the age of 16, with roles in a couple of Australian movies. Kidman made her Hollywood debut in 1990 in the movie Days of Thunder opposite future spouse Tom Cruise. She gained wider recognition and fame through her roles in movies such as Far and Away, Batman Forever and Eyes Wide Shut, and won an Academy Award in 2002 for her portrayal of the writer Virginia Woolf in The Hours. She has also been nominated for Oscars for her work in Moulin Rouge!, Rabbit Hole, and Lion. Kidman has also made the switch to television successfully through the drama Big Little Lies, on which she also served as an executive producer.
She is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood, as evidenced by the fact that she has twice been named in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and she has also been listed as one of the highest-paid actresses in the world.
Moulin Rouge!, one of her most successful movies, is a musical directed by Baz Luhrmann. It had Kidman and Ewan McGregor in lead roles, with John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent and Richard Roxburgh in supporting roles. The plot involved Ewan McGregor’s character, a young English poet, falling in love with the star of the Moulin Rouge cabaret, Nicole Kidman’s character. It was the third part of Luhrmann’s ‘Red Curtain’ trilogy, following Strictly Ballroom and Romeo + Juliet. Being a musical, Moulin Rouge! is filled with musical numbers aplenty, but the movie itself hurtles along at breakneck speed, where a bit of thought and pause would have been a better choice.
Next up, we have Hugh Jackman, who has gained worldwide fame through his portrayal of Logan/Wolverine in the X-Men movie franchise. Jackman was born in 1968 in Sydney to British parents; his parents had emigrated to Australia the previous year, and thus he holds both British and Australian citizenship. After completing his BA, he did a one-year course at the Actors’ Centre in Sydney, and then started out with roles in television, before a breakthrough stage performance in the Royal National Theatre’s production of Oklahoma! in London’s West End, for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award. Of course, he burst into the limelight with his casting as Wolverine in Bryan Singer’s X-Men, and then subsequently played the character in eight more movies, culminating with Logan in 2016. He has become almost synonymous with the character, to the extent that fans have called for Wolverine to not appear in any further X-Men or Marvel movies if Jackman is not playing the role.
The next Australian actor on this list is another heavyweight, having won two Academy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and three British Academy Film Awards. We are, of course, talking about Cate Blanchett. She was born in the Melbourne suburb of Ivanhoe in 1969. She too began her career on stage, with a role opposite Geoffrey Rush in the 1992 play Oleana for the Sydney Theatre Company. Her first high-profile Hollywood role was in the movie Elizabeth, where she played Elizabeth I of England. She also gained a whole new legion of fans after being cast as Galadriel in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Some of her other most successful films include the likes of The Talented Mr Ripley, Babel, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Thor Ragnarok. One of the movies she did early on in her career was Oscar and Lucinda, where she starred alongside Ralph Fiennes, Ciaran Hinds and Tom Wilkinson. Her character takes to playing casino games at a very early age after her parents’ death, as does Fiennes’ character, and their inability to break free from its grip informs the rest of the story.
Our next actor is Russell Crowe. This widely popular and successful actor is actually a New Zealander, having been born in the capital city, Wellington, in 1964, but has lived in Australia most of his life. He came to global fame and recognition for his role as General Maximus Decimus Meridius in the movie Gladiator, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Actor. Some of his other acclaimed movies include A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, Robin Hood, Man of Steel, American Gangster and Les Miserables. Gladiator, directed by Ridley Scott, tells the story of General Maximus, played by Crowe, who is betrayed when Commodus, the ambitious son of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, murders his father to prevent Maximus from getting the throne. Maximus is reduced to slavery and must rise through the gladiatorial ranks in order to avenge the murders of his family and the emperor. It is one of the finest movies of this century, and Crowe delivers a stupendous performance as the wronged general-turned-gladiator.
Last but not least, we have one of the newer kids on the block in Margot Robbie. She was born in 1990 in Dalby, Queensland, and her breakthrough role came in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. She has also had notable roles in the movies Focus, Legend of Tarzan and Suicide Squad. Robbie was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of the disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya, while also picking up award nominations for her roles in Mary Queen of Scots, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Bombshell. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie, and stars Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio alongside Robbie. It is set in Los Angeles in 1969 and tells the story of an actor and his stunt double as they work their way through the maze that is Hollywood.
Who’s your favourite Australian actor or actress?