Australia is best known for its beautiful beaches, expansive outback, and nightmarishly poisonous animals. But Australia also has a wide range of brilliant actors. Some of the best actors and actresses working today are Aussies, although often times it can be hard to tell. With solid American dialects at a well-trained actor’s disposal, it can be easy to make a mistake about where your favorite actor is actually from.
For this list, we’re taking a look at some of the actors and actresses you might not realize hail from the land down under. We’re excluding major actors who, for the most part, the public already knows is Australian. That means that as much as we love the guy, you won’t be seeing Hugh Jackman show up here.
So get ready to throw another shrimp on the barbie, mate, here are the 15 Actors You Didn’t Realize Were Australian.
15. Rachael Taylor
This “Sheila” grew up with parents Nigel and Christine in Tasmania, Australia, and from an early age Rachael Taylor began modeling, even making it into the finals in the Miss Teen Tasmania pageants. She later moved to Sydney to advance her modelling career and pursue her other love: acting. She landed the first gig in 2004 with the television movie The Mystery of Natalie Wood, which earned her a regular part in the Australian drama Headland.
Her big break came in 2007 when she scored the role of Maggie Madsen in Michael Bay’s Transformers. Since then, Taylor has kept busy with a slew of comedy and drama movies, and more recently has reentered into the realm of television. She was one of the leads on the short lived Charlie’s Angels reboot, appeared in Grey’s Anatomy, and more recently played the role of Trish Walker in Netflix’s highly popular Jessica Jones. Her film Gold, about explorers in the Indonesian jungle, which also stars Matthew McConaughey, opens later this year.
14. Alex O’ Loughlin
You might recognize Alex O’Loughlin as Steve McGarrett from the 2010 reboot of Hawaii Five-0, but did you know that this actor who plays a Hawaiian detective actually comes from Canberra, the Australian Capital Territory? Born in 1976, O’Loughlin stared his film career in 2004 when he starred in Oyster Farmer, a dark crime/comedy set in Australia. Afterwards, he landed a series of film roles including both horror movies Feed and Man-Thing in 2005.
He made a guest appearance in the 2007 season of The Shield, and also got to star in the short lived show, Moonlight, which lasted one season. In 2010, O’Loughlin played alongside Jennifer Lopez in The Back-up Plan, which was unfortunately torn apart by critics for being a predicable romantic/comedy. O’Loughlin bounced back the very same year when he was offered the role of McGarrett in Hawaii Five-0. The tropical crime/drama reboot was popular enough to last six seasons, with CBS renewing it for a seventh debuting later on this year.
13. Josh Helman
Born in Adelaide, South Australia, Josh Helman is an upcoming actor who has exploded within the last couple of years. His first acting gig was back in 2007’s All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane in a glorified cameo, but it was enough to land him small parts in television with Home and Away and McLeod’s Daughters. After a series of bit parts, his big break came in 2010 when he starred in HBO’s highly acclaimed war series, The Pacific.
Since then Helman has landed roles in some of the biggest recent blockbusters, the first being 2012’s Jack Reacher in the small role of Jeb. He later went on to play the young version of William Stryker in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and reprised the role again in the recent X-Men: Apocalypse. You also might not have recognized him with all the face paint on, but he played the war boy named Slit in George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road.
Interested in other creative endeavors, Helman will be sitting in the director chair for the first time later this year with Kate Can’t Swim, a drama which stars himself alongside Zosia Mamet and Celeste Arias. If his directing chops are as good as his acting abilities, we can’t wait.
12. Eka Darville
This Australian based actor has played almost every television role imaginable: everything from a Red Power Ranger, to a Roman slave. Born in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, Eka Darville broke into television in 2008 with a part in Blue Water High, a campy series about Australian teenage surfers. After its cancellation, he went on to test his action chops on Power Rangers R.P.M., in which he played the Red Eagle RPM Ranger.
In 2010 he played Pietros in Spartacus: War of the Damned, and landed his first feature film role in 2012’s Mr. Pip, which he plays a student who is mistakenly confused with a rebel leader. In 2015 he landed a small role in FOX’s highly popular Empire, but was unfortunately written out after the first season. These days Mr. Darville keeps quite busy, scoring a lead role in Netflix’s Jessica Jones, playing Jones’ drug addicted neighbor who eats other people’s peanut butter, Malcolm Ducasse.
We’ll be seeing more of Darville in Netflix’s upcoming The Defenders, which has Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist team up to rid New York City of crime. Not sure where the peanut butter loving Malcolm will fit in with all of that, but we’re stoked nonetheless.
11. Mia Wasikowska
Most famous for playing the titular role in Alice in Wonderland, Mia Wasikowska was born in Canberra, Australia Capitol Territory. She started her acting career at the early age of 15 when she scored a role in the drama series All Saints. Like many actors, she then starred in a series of short films before landing roles in major productions. Her first feature was Edward Zwick’s 2008 Defiance, which starred Daniel Craig as a Jewish resistance fighter in Nazi-occupied Europe.
Since then the Australian actress has been in a number of major studio films. She starred in Tim Burton’s live adaptation of Alice in Wonderland in 2010, and reprised the role in this year’s sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass. She starred in the critically-acclaimed erotic thriller Stoker, and last year she creeped audiences out in Guillermo del Toro’s latest horror/fantasy Crimson Peak as Edith Cushing, a Victorian Era woman who finds ghosts in her new home. Willing to give any genre a go, Wasikowska will also be starring alongside Robert Pattinson in next year’s Damsel, a comedic Western about a couple living in the mountains.
10. John Noble
Dabbling in a little bit of everything, you might recognize Aussie John Noble from a few different things. His acting career started in the late 1980s where he played bit parts in a number of different shows including Water Rats, the 1999 version of The Lost World, and Stingers. While he wasn’t a featured player in any of them, he hit the big leagues in 2002 when he was cast as the mad Steward of Gondor, Denethor, in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
Unfortunately, all of Noble’s scenes were removed from the theatrical cut, but he was given much more screen time in the follow up, The Return of the King. Since the Middle-earth movies, Noble has kept busy with a wide range of television roles, the most famous being that of Dr. Bishop in J.J. Abrams’ Fringe, and the father of Sherlock Holmes in Elementary. Noble also provided the voice behind Brainiac in Superman: Unbound, as well as the creepy persona of Scarecrow in the highly popular videogame, Batman: Arkham Knight. What hasn’t this guy done?
9. David Wenham
Another Australian actor who is no stranger to Middle-Earth, you might recognize David Wenham from his role of Faramir in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Return of the King. Afterwards, he went on to play in a couple different TV movies before he landed the part that everyone recognizes him for, Dilios in Zack Snyder’s 300. The eye-patched character, who narrates the story as well as leading the 10,000 Spartan charge at the end of the film, plays a pivotal role in Snyder’s epic, making Wenham a major force in the world of acting.
In 2008, the actor landed a role in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, which starred fellow Aussies Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. Unfortunately, the movie was a critical and financial bomb, not able to earn back even half of its estimated $130 million budget. Since then Wenham has bounced back with roles in Public Enemies, 300: Rise of an Empire, and a few notable roles in television. He’ll be returning to the world of big-budget blockbusters next year starring alongside Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Javier Bardem in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Let’s hope that pirates suit the actor as well as Roman warriors did.
8. Julian McMahon
Born in Sydney, Australia, Julian McMahon broke into the mainstream in 2003 with his role of Dr. Christian Troy in FX’s Nip/Tuck. Christian is a slick, arrogant, unethical, and narcissistic ladies’ man, played perfectly by McMahon, and audiences didn’t know whether to love or hate him. McMahon’s charismatic take on Troy, while maybe not beloved, was an instant hit among viewers, and Nip/Tuck enjoyed a solid six season run. At the same time, the actor had a brief stint on the show Charmed, a fantasy about three magical sisters battling the forces of evil.
You might also recognize McMahon from his work as Dr. Victor Von Doom in the 2005 version of The Fantastic Four, and 2007’s Rise of the Silver Surfer. Though the first installment made some money, the two Fantastic Four films are now panned for being campy with comically dated effects. Today McMahon still gets solid work in television and movies, playing alongside Bruce Willis and John Malkovich in the film RED, and even providing his voice in an episode of Robot Chicken as none other than Dr. Doom. Good thing this Australian actor has a sense of humor.
7. Noah Taylor
Though Noah Taylor was born in London, his family eventually returned to their native home of New Zealand when he was five years old. His love for theatre inspired young Taylor to craft his skill for acting, landing roles in 1987’s The Year My Voice Broke about a prepubescent boy in rural Australia, and its sequel, Flirting, in 1991. It led him to what some consider to be his most recognizable role in Shine, playing the adolescent version of Geoffrey Rush’s Australian pianist, David Helfgott.
And remember that jerk who cut off Jamie Lannister’s hand in the third season of Game of Thrones? That would be Taylor’s character Locke, who was a despicable foe who finally met his doom by a very agitated Hordor. Since then Taylor has had a brief stint in Netflix’s Peaky Blinders, as well as popping up in the Tom Cruise sci-fi flick, Edge of Tomorrow. He most recently starred in a horror movie entitled Windmill, and later this year will be featured in the crime/drama Free Fire alongside Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson and Arnie Hammer.
6. Joel Edgerton
Brother of famous stunt coordinator Nash Edgerton, Joel Edgerton has appeared in everything from dramas to comedies, and from indies to full scale action epics. He was born in Blacktown, New South Wales in 1974, attending Nepean Drama school in 1994. He was able to break into the mainstream with the 2001 Australian TV series The Secret Life of Us, and shortly after scored his big international break with the role of Owen Lars in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.
He reprised the character of Owen for the sequel, Revenge of the Sith, and in 2011 nabbed a leading role in the prequel version of the cult-horror movie, The Thing. The following year Edgerton scored again with the part of a Squadron Team Leader in Kathryn Bigelow’s highly acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty. With some great films under his belt, the actor’s greatest performance might be in 2011’s Warrior, which stars Edgerton as a mixed martial arts fighter going up against his estranged brother, played by Tom Hardy. Today the Aussie actor finds plenty of work with a resume that includes The Great Gatsby, Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Gift, Black Mass, and Jane Got a Gun.
5. Simon Baker
That’s right, everybody’s favorite TV “psychic” in The Mentalist from sunny California is actually from Tasmania, Australia. A rising star from the get-go, Simon Baker received Australia’s prestigious Logie award in 1992 for Most Popular New Talent. Not bad for only had performed in a handful of shows by this time, including a role as “Unnamed Party Guest” in Tales from the Crypt. In 1997 however, Baker hit pay dirt by appearing alongside Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, and Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential.
In 2001 he landed the lead role in the drama series The Guardian, for which he was nominated for his first Golden Globe. Then in 2008 he scored his most famous role to date as Patrick Jane, a former psychic who jones with the California Bureau of Investigation to track down the criminal that killed his wife and daughter. It’s the role that earned Baker critical acclaim, being nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Emmy during its seven season run. Not one to forget his heritage, the Aussie actor will be directing and starring in Breath in 2017, a coming-of-age tale based on Tim Winton’s award-winning novel set in mid-70s costal Australia.
4. Jason Clarke
You may remember Jason Clarke as the “evil” John Connor from last year’s lackluster Terminator Genisys, but don’t let that sway your decision about this fantastic Australian actor. Clarke was born in Queensland in 1969, though you wouldn’t be able to tell from his flawless American dialect. He started acting in his mid-twenties, scoring roles in various television programs like Water Rats and Blue Heelers.
He played a small part in the over-the-top action romp Death Race in 2008, but that performance opened up the door to other films like Michael Mann’s Public Enemies and John Hillcoat’s Lawless. In 2012 and 2013, Clarke starred along with fellow Aussie Joel Edgerton in both Zero Dark Thirty and The Great Gatsby. In 2014, he got to play the leading human character in Matt Reeve’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and in the survival story Everest the following year. Though he might have taken a slight step back with the aforementioned Terminator Genisys, we still have high hopes that the next film with this Aussie actor will be a return to form.
3. Rebel Wilson
Though she’s frequently mistaken for being English, comedian Rebel Wilson in fact hails from the land down under, more specifically from Sydney, New South Wales. From an early age Wilson was able to start successful stage and television career in her home country. While she was enjoying local success, the actress broke out internationally in the 2011 comedy hit Bridesmaids, in which she played Kristen Wiig’s clueless roommate Brynn.
Since then the actress has been in a little bit of everything, including a Workaholics episode in which she plays a character named “Big Money Hustla.” She’s done voiceover work, like in 2012’s Ice Age: Continental Drift, as well as appearing in mainstream comedies, like the Cameron Diaz film What to Expect When You’re Expecting. But it wasn’t until Pitch Perfect in 2012 that Wilson’s fame exploded. The musical-comedy was a major hit with audiences, especially Wilson’s eccentric character with pitch perfect comedic timing, Fat Amy. She reprised the role for the sequel in 2015, and it seems that Fat Amy will soon be lighting up the screens yet again in 2017 with Pitch Perfect 3.
2. Dominic Purcell
Born in England but raised in Australia, Dominic Purcell grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood and turned to a life of acting after becoming bored with landscaping. Feeling inspired after having watched Oliver Stone’s Platoon, he enrolled in the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts where he was a classmate of fellow Aussie actor, Hugh Jackman. In 2000 Purcell got his big break with a role in Mission: Impossible II, which by luck was filming in Australia.
Though his role was small, it provided better odds in casting calls which lead to roles in movies like Equilibrium and Blade: Trinity (in which Purcell performed all of his sword fighting stunts). The actor’s defining role came in 2005 on FOX’s hit show Prison Break, in which Purcell plays a wrongly accused death-row inmate. Since then he landed a role in CW’s highly popular Legends of Tomorrow, in which the Aussie tough-guy plays criminal arsonist Heat Wave. With Legends of Tomorrow, Purcell is busier than ever, especially now that Prison Break is finally returning to television next year with a long awaited sequel series.
1. Margot Robbie
Unless you were paying close attention to her accent in that one scene in The Big Short, you might have missed the fact that Margot Robbie is actually from Dalby, Queensland, Australia. This up-and-coming actress grew up on her grandparents’ farm off of the Golden Coast, and in her late teens, moved to Melbourne to pursue an acting career. She earned several Logie Award nominations for her work in the soap opera, Neighbours, but left the show in 2010 to purse her dreams of making it in film.
2013 was a big year for the Australian actress as she made her big screen debut in the romantic comedy About Time, and starred in Martin Scorsese’s biopic, The Wolf of Wall Street. Shortly after Margot Robbie became a household name, and in 2015 she stared opposite Will Smith in the crime drama, Focus.
So far this summer, Robbie’s headlined two summer blockbusters as Jane Porter in The Legend of Tarzan, and of course as everyone’s favorite love-sick psychopath in Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn. While the DC movie about misfit antiheroes has gotten mixed reviews, most would agree that Robbie’s performance as Quinn was one of the few highlights, which might even have earned the actress a possible standalone movie for the character. Though it’s up in the air at this point if a Harley Quinn spinoff might happen, we can’t wait to see what this young talented actress does next, regardless of what it is.
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