Australian actors successful overseas

Australian actors have been represented amongst the best in the world for a long time - not just in the last few years. This is my list of Australian actors who have made it on the international stage.

Thanks for your suggestions below - I know it's not a perfect list and it's great there are more to add:) However, please don't be offended if your favourite current actor isn't there! (I'd love to know if I've missed any old ones though :)

My main motivation for starting the list was to acknowledge that Australians making it big as performers overseas is not just a recent thing. Australians have always been represented in Hollywood since they started making movies. Also in other performing arts settings (eg Nellie Melba, Peter Dawson) ... My focus was on the earlier people, but didn't seem fair to cut it off as today's Aussies are just as remarkable.
View:
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
1.
Errol Flynn
Errol Flynn was born to parents Theodore Flynn, a respected biologist, and Marrelle Young, an adventurous young woman. Young Flynn was a rambunctious child who could be counted on to find trouble. Errol managed to have himself thrown out of every school he was enrolled in. In his late teens he set out to find gold...
“ Australian swashbuckler ” - singinggirl
 
2.
May Robson
Born Mary Jeanette Robison. She was the youngest daughter of Henry Robison of Penrith, Cumberland, England and Julia Schelesinger of Liverpool, Lancashire, England. Her father died in 1860 and her mother remarried. In 1866/67 they were living in St Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and moved back to London...
 
3.
Peter Finch
Actor, Network
Despite being one of the finest actors of his generation, Peter Finch will be remembered as much for his reputation as a hard-drinking, hell-raising womanizer as for his performances on the screen. He was born in London in 1916 and went to live in Sydney, Australia, at the age of ten. There, he worked in a series of dead-end jobs before taking up acting...
 
4.
 
5.
Judy Davis
Judy Davis was born April 23, 1955 in Perth, Western Australia. She was educated at Loreto Convent and the Western Institute of Technology, and graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in 1977. She came to prominence as Sybylla Melvyn in the film adaptation of Miles Franklin's novel...
 
6.
Rod Taylor
Suave and handsome Australian actor who came to Hollywood in the 1950s, and built himself up from a supporting actor into taking the lead in several well-remembered movies. Arguably his most fondly remembered role was that as George (Herbert George Wells), the inventor, in George Pal's spectacular The Time Machine...
 
7.
Judith Anderson
Actress, Rebecca
Dame Judith Anderson was born Frances Margaret Anderson on February 10, 1897 in Adelaide, South Australia. She began her acting career in Australia before moving to New York in 1918. There she established herself as one of the greatest theatrical actresses and was a major star on Broadway throughout the 1930s...
“ Those familiar with "Rebecca" with Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine will remember the chilling Mrs Danvers as played by Judith Anderson. ” - singinggirl
 
8.
Leo McKern
Although he sounded very British, Leo McKern was an Australian. By the time he was 15 years old, he had endured an accident that left him without his left eye. A glass eye replaced it - one might conjecture for the better, as far as making McKern a one-day actor of singular focus (no pun intended; his face had that extremely focused look)...
 
9.
Toni Collette
Toni Collette is an Academy Award-nominated Australian actress, best known for her roles in The Sixth Sense and Little Miss Sunshine. Collette was born Toni Collett (she later added an "e") on November 1, 1972, in Blacktown, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. She is the first of three children of Judith (Cook)...
 
10.
Robert Helpmann
Son of James Murray Helpmann & Mary (nee Gardiner), he was educated at Prince Alfred's College, Adelaide, South Australia. He first danced solo at the Theatre Royal, Adelaide in The Ugly Duckling in 1922. He went on to become the pricipal dancer at Sadlers Wells ballet from 1933 to 1950. World renowned as a dancer and choreographer...
 
11.
Jack Thompson
Australian actor Jack Thompson was born John Hadley Payne on August 31, 1940 in Manly, New South Wales, a suburb of Sydney. Outside of Oz, he is best known for his appearances in The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Breaker Morant, The Man from Snowy River, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones. 'Breaker' Morant in which he played a military defense attorney defending three soldiers accused of murder during the Boer War...
 
12.
Michael Pate
The future movie bad man was born in Drummoyne, a suburb of Sydney, Australia, and got his career start as an interviewer on the government's radio station. Pate also worked on the Australian stage and in Down Under movies before relocating to th e U.S. in the early 1950s to appear in Universal's "Thunder on the Hill...
 
13.
Barry Humphries
His father was an affluent construction manager. Barry was a very intelligent boy who attended Melbourne University. There, he began in revues and doing some impersonations. He moved to London around 1960 and began his TV career. He has created numerous characters, including Dame Edna Everidge and Sir Les Patterson.
 
14.
Geoffrey Rush
Geoffrey Roy Rush was born on July 6, 1951, in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, to Merle (Bischof), a department store sales assistant, and Roy Baden Rush, an accountant for the Royal Australian Air Force. His mother was of German descent and his father had English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry. He was raised in Brisbane, Queensland, after his parents split up...
 
15.
Hugh Jackman
Hugh Michael Jackman is an Australian actor, singer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer and producer. Jackman has won international recognition for his roles in major films, notably as superhero, period, and romance characters. He is best known for his long-running role as Wolverine in the X-Men film series...
 
16.
Russell Crowe
Actor, Gladiator
Russell Ira Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand, to Jocelyn Yvonne (Wemyss) and John Alexander Crowe, both of whom catered movie sets. His maternal grandfather, Stanley Wemyss, was a cinematographer. Crowe's recent ancestry includes Welsh (where his paternal grandfather was born, in Wrexham), English...
 
17.
Nicole Kidman
Actress, Moulin Rouge!
Elegant redhead Nicole Kidman, known as one of Hollywood's top Australian imports, was actually born in Honolulu, Hawaii, while her Australian parents were there on educational visas. Kidman is the daughter of Janelle Ann (Glenny), a nursing instructor, and Antony David Kidman, a biochemist and clinical psychologist...
 
19.
Chips Rafferty
Years before Jack Thompson arrived on the scene, Chips Rafferty was regarded by many as the personification of the stereotypically rugged, straightforward and laconic Aussie male. Tall and thin, though not particularly striking in appearance, Rafferty was a tailor-made star for the austere, modestly-budgeted dramas made 'down under' in the 1940's and 50's...
 
20.
Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett was born on May 14, 1969 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, to June (Gamble), an Australian teacher and property developer, and Robert DeWitt Blanchett, Jr., an American advertising executive, originally from Texas. She has an older brother and a younger sister. When she was ten years old...
 
21.
Mel Gibson
Actor, Braveheart
Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson was born January 3, 1956 in Peekskill, New York, USA, as the sixth of eleven children of Hutton Gibson, a railroad brakeman, and Anne Patricia (Reilly) Gibson (who died in December of 1990). His mother was Irish, from County Longford, while his American-born father is of mostly Irish descent...
 
22.
Bill Hunter
Bill Hunter was one of Australia's acting legends, having worked with almost every notable Australian director and actor of the last thirty years - evidence of his genuine popularity among the public and acting fraternity alike. He started out in Australian television in the '60s (a hotbed of well written and directed drama)...
 
23.
Sigrid Thornton
An icon of the Australian screen, Sigrid Thornton has starred in many of the films now regarded as classics of the Australian cinema. They include George Miller's box office hit The Man From Snowy River (Fox Classics), The Lighthorsemen (RKO), directed by Simon Wincer, Slate Wyn And Me (Hemdale) and The Man From Snowy River 11 (Disney - Touchstone)...
 
26.
Barry Crocker
Music Department, Neighbours
 
27.
Hugo Weaving
Actor, The Matrix
Hugo Wallace Weaving was born on April 4, 1960 in Nigeria, to English parents Anne (Lennard), a tour guide and teacher, and Wallace Weaving, a seismologist. Hugo has an older brother, Simon, and a younger sister, Anna, who both also live and work in Australia. During his early childhood, the Weaving family spent most of their time traveling between Nigeria...
 
28.
Guy Pearce
Actor, Memento
Guy Edward Pearce was born 5 October, 1967 in Cambridgeshire, England, UK to Anne (Pickering) and Stuart Graham Pearce. His father was born in Auckland, New Zealand, to English and Scottish parents, while Guy's mother is English. Pearce and his family initially traveled to Australia for two years, after his father was offered the position of Chief test pilot for the Australian Government...
 
31.
Paul Hogan
Paul Hogan became a worldwide success with his irresistible comic performance in Crocodile Dundee, which he created and co-wrote. This earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor as well as an Academy Award nomination (for Best Screenplay). The versatile actor got his start in Australian television in a recurring role as comic relief on A Current Affair...
 
32.
Heath Ledger
When hunky, twenty-year-old heart-throb Heath Ledger first came to the attention of the public in 1999, it was all too easy to tag him as a "pretty boy" and an actor of little depth. He spent several years trying desperately to sway this image, but this was a double-edged sword. Heath Ledger was born on the fourth of April 1979...
 
33.
Gerard Kennedy
Actor, Division 4
Once described early in his career as Australia's version of 1950's Hollywood action star Jeff Chandler, sharing his rugged looks and intense performances, Gerard began in theater before moving to television playing memorable villains in Homicide. This led to his breakthrough role as enemy espionage agent Kragg in Hunter...
 
34.
Alwyn Kurts
Actor, Homicide
One of Australia's most recognisable actors, Alwyn Kurts had previously been an accredited war correspondent, before becoming a notable figure in Melbourne radio in the 1950s via his program "Raising A Husband", and as an executive at radio station 3XY. Shortly after television arrived in 1956, he transferred "Raising A Husband" from radio...
 
35.
 
36.
 
37.
Eric Bana
Actor, Star Trek
Eric Bana was born Eric Banadinovic on August 9, 1968, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. He is the younger of two brothers. His father, named Ivan Banadinovic, came from Zagreb, Croatia, and worked as a manager for Caterpillar Inc. His mother, named Eleanor Banadinovic, came from a German family and was a hairdresser...
 
38.
Radha Mitchell
Actress, Silent Hill
Radha Mitchell (born 12 November 1973) is an Australian actress. She started her career acting in various Australian TV series and movies, and later became known for her appearance in Hollywood films. Mitchell, a native of Melbourne, began acting when she was still in high school and had her professional debut on the popular Australian soap...
 
39.
Ben Mendelsohn
Despite his prominence in Hollywood as a character actor known for playing villains and criminals, Ben Mendelsohn has been a leading man in Australia since starting acting as a teenager. Paul Benjamin Mendelsohn was born in Melbourne, Australia, to Carole Ann (Ferguson), a nurse, and Frederick Arthur Oscar Mendelsohn...
 
40.
Rachel Griffiths
Actress, Blow
Her mother, Anna Griffiths, is an art consultant. Her uncle is a Jesuit priest. Has two older brothers. One brother, Ben, is a ski instructor. Lived on the Gold Coast, Queensland until age five, then moved to Melbourne. Attended Star of the Sea Catholic Girls' College, did well at school and learned ballet...
 
41.
Kylie Minogue
Actress, Moulin Rouge!
Kylie Ann Minogue was born on 28 May, 1968. The eldest of three children, Kylie's acting career began early, but it was her role as "Charlene" in the Australian soap, Neighbours, which established Kylie as an international star. Her singing career began, purely by accident, when a record company executive heard Kylie's rendition of Little Eva's 1962 hit...
 
42.
Rolf Harris
Rolf Harris came to London in 1952 to study Art. A year later he was appearing on TV as an artist and storyteller and had his first hit as a singer in the early sixties with Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport. After a relatively quiet period in his life in the late seventies, his brother Bruce Harris became his manager and reinvented him...
 
44.
 
45.
Helen Reddy
The #1 Grammy-winning "I Am Woman" became not only THE anthem of the feminist movement during the radical 1970s, but also the signature song for its crop-haired composer and singer Helen Reddy. Three decades later this is the hit people still remember her for, despite the fact she had an abundance of other "top ten" records over the course of her long career...
 
47.
Matthew Newton
Since graduating from the National Institute Of Dramatic Art in 1998 he has played lead roles in film, television and on stage. His feature films include 'Looking For Alibrandi', 'My Mother Frank', 'The Bet', 'Bitter and Twisted', 'Blurred', 'The Great Raid' and 'Queen Of The Damned'. He has worked...
 
48.
Wendy Hughes
Wendy Hughes was an accomplished actress who had won over 13 major awards. She had been called "one of the world's great actresses" with "the beauty and talent to become an international star". Hughes was born in Melbourne and studied at the National Institute of Dramatic Art. She has two children, Charlotte (17) and Jay (13).
 
49.
Matt Day
Day was born in Melbourne, Victoria. When he was 11 years old, he went to live in the United States with his father, a newspaper correspondent, where he became interested in acting. On his return to Australia, he attended University High School in Parkville, Melbourne and joined St Martins Youth Arts Centre in South Yarra...
 
52.
Robyn Nevin
Robyn Nevin entered the National Institute Of Dramatic Art (training ground of Mel Gibson, among others) at age 16 in the very first intake in 1959. She went through what she called 'a little temperamental huff' with the theatre following graduation and took a job with the national broadcaster in Tasmania...
 
53.
Graham Kennedy
Graham Kennedy's last major appearance on Australian television was between April 1988 and December 1989, when he hosted "Graham Kennedy's News Hour" (in 1988 with Ken Sutcliffe) and "Coast to Coast" (in 1989 with John Mangos) for Australia's Channel Nine TV Network. While actually reading real stories...
 
57.
Lana Cantrell
Impassioned Australian singer Lana Cantrell, who found international success in the 1960s and 1970s, did not do things the easy way. A self-taught singer with no formal training, the tall, trim, shaggy-haired beauty entered the music industry and, for the duration of her career, remained true to her own vision and uniqueness every step of the way...
 
58.
Magda Szubanski
Actress, Fast Forward
Attended college in Melbourne, Australia. With friends from college, launched an early-80s comedy show on Australian TV called The D Generation. In late 80s/early 90s, appeared in comedy show on Australian TV called Fast Forward.
 
59.
Kate Isaac
Actress, Miss Eliza
Born in Sydney Australia, Canadian actress Kate Isaac comes from a long line of performers. Both Kate's parents sang professionally and her younger brother is the front man for a popular Australian folk band. Leaving a career in Law, Kate decided to pursue her love of the arts, enrolling in acting school and dedicating her time and energy to perfecting her craft...
 
60.
 
61.
 
63.
Rebel Wilson
Rebel Wilson was born in Sydney, Australia. She trained at the Australian Theatre for Young People and at Second City in the US. After a successful stage and television career in Australia, this writer/actress/producer now focuses on feature film projects in the United States and is perhaps most known for her breakthrough roles in the films Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect.
 
65.
Rose Byrne
Rose Byrne was born in Balmain, Sydney, Australia. She is the daughter of Jane, a primary school administrator, and Robin Byrne, a semi-retired statistician and market researcher. She landed her first role in a movie, Dallas Doll, when she was 15 years old. Since then, Rose has appeared in a variety of Australian televisions shows including Heartbreak High...
 
66.
Emily Browning
Actress, Sucker Punch
Emily Browning is an Australian actress and singer. She made her film debut in the Australian television film The Echo of Thunder (1998). Browning is also known for her roles in the horror film The Uninvited (2009), the action film Sucker Punch (2011), the independent drama Sleeping Beauty (2011), The Host (2013), Pompeii (2014) and Legend (2015).
 
67.
Abbie Cornish
Actress, Limitless
Abbie Cornish grew up on her parents' 170 acre farm in the Hunter Valley town of Lochinvar with her 3 brothers and younger sister. Abbie started modeling at age 13. Her first acting job was at age 15 on the Australian Broadcasting Commission series Children's Hospital playing a quadriplegic.
 
68.
Mia Wasikowska
Mia is an Australian actress, born and raised in the country's capital, Canberra. She is the daughter of photographers Marzena Wasikowska and John Reid. Her mother is Polish and her father is an Australian of British ancestry. She has an older sister, Jess, and a younger brother, Kai. At age eight, her family moved to Poland for a year...
 
69.
Joel Edgerton
Actor, Warrior
Joel Edgerton was born on June 23, 1974 in Blacktown, New South Wales, Australia, to Marianne and Michael Edgerton, who is a solicitor and property developer. His brother is filmmaker Nash Edgerton. He went to Hills Grammar School in the Western Suburbs of Sydney, and after leaving, he attended Nepean Drama School in 1994...
 
70.
Diane Cilento
She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Tom Jones in 1963 and appeared in The Third Secret the following year but she allowed her film career to decline following her marriage to actor Sean Connery, the second of her three husbands, to whom she was married from 1962-1973...
 
71.
Simon Baker
Simon Baker was first recognized in 1992, when he received Australia's prestigious Logie award for Most Popular New Talent. Upon relocating to Los Angeles with his family, Baker was immediately cast in the Academy Award winning film L.A. Confidential.
 
72.
George Lazenby
George Robert Lazenby was born September 5, 1939 in Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia, to Sheila Joan (Bodel) and George Edward Lazenby. He moved to London, England in 1964, after serving in the Australian Army. Before becoming an actor, he worked as an auto mechanic, used car salesman, prestige car salesman...
 
73.
Portia de Rossi
Portia de Rossi was born and raised in Geelong, Australia. Originally born Amanda Rogers, at 15 she changed her name to Portia, saying that it was the most daring thing she had ever done up until that point. After graduating from high school, she attended the University of Melbourne, and studied law...
 
74.
John Noble
Artistic Director of Stage Company of South Australia 1977 - 87. Head of Drama, Brent St. School of Arts (Sydney) 1997-00. Directed over 80 plays, including 'Sons of Cain' on London's West End (1986). Freelance actor. Semi-regular in TV series 'All Saints'. Voice and acting teacher.
 
75.
Melissa George
Actress, Home and Away
The second of four children, Australian actress Melissa George was born in Perth, Western Australia in 1976. The daughter of Pamela, a nurse, and Glenn George, a construction worker, Melissa initially expressed interest in various forms of dance rather than acting. During her childhood, George studied tap...
 
76.
Julian McMahon
Actor, Nip/Tuck
Julian Dana William McMahon was born in Sydney, Australia, the second of three children of Lady Sonia McMahon (née Sonia Rachel Hopkins) and Sir Billy McMahon, the longest continuously serving government minister in Australian history, serving over 21 years as a government minister before serving as Prime Minister of Australia from March 1971 to December 1972...
 
77.
Rachael Taylor
Actress, Transformers
Rachael Taylor grew up in Tasmania, Australia, with her parents Nigel and Christine Taylor. She began modelling during her teens, working for the Skye-Jilly International agency. She competed for Miss Teen Tasmania, as well as the Miss Universe/Miss World state finals. She moved to Sydney to further her modeling career as well as to pursue acting...
 
78.
David Wenham
Actor, 300
 
79.
Dustin Clare
Dustin Clare is an award winning Australian actor. Dustin Clare made his feature debut opposite Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis in Fred Schepisi's The Eye of the Storm, which premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival and screened in Special Presentation at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival...
 
80.
Bella Heathcote
Actress, Dark Shadows
Born Isabella, "Bella" Heathcote is an actress from Australia. Her first roles include playing "Amanda Fowler" on the Australian television soap opera, Neighbours, for which she is best known. She was a recipient of a Heath Ledger Scholarship in May 2010. Tim Burton cast Heathcote as "Victoria Winters" in his film adaptation of Dark Shadows in February 2011...
 
81.
Indiana Evans
Actress, Home and Away
Indiana Rose Evans born 27 July 1990 is an Australian actress and singer-songwriter, best known for her roles in Home and Away as Matilda Hunter, H2O: Just Add Water as Bella Hartley, and Blue Lagoon: The Awakening as Emmaline Robinson. Evans had an interest in performing since the age of five, when she would perform for family and friends...
 
82.
Holly Valance
Actress, Taken
Holly Rachel Valance was born on 11th May 1983 in Melbourne, to parents Rachel and Ryko. Holly's mother is from Southampton, England and her father hails from Yugoslavia. Both her parents were fashion models and her father is a pianist and guitarist. Her parents live in Melbourne with Holly's two younger sisters...
 
86.
Miranda Kerr
Miranda May Kerr was born in Sydney and raised in the small town of Gunnedah to John and Therese Kerr. Kerr's paternal grandmother lived on a farm, where she "raced motorbikes and rode horses." Her parents later moved the family to Brisbane when she and her younger brother Matthew were teenagers. She...
 
87.
 
88.
 
89.
Nick Cave
Composer, Lawless
Nick Cave is a man of many talents. Musician. Songwriter. Screenwriter. Novelist. Actor. The Australian was born in Warracknabeal, Victoria in 1957, and would go onto form the alternative rock band Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, who have since successfully released a string of hit albums. In film, Nick has starred in two films with Brad Pitt: Johnny Suede by Tom DiCillo and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford...
 
90.
Flea
Michael Peter Balzary was born on the sixteenth of October 1962, in Melbourne, Australia. When he was four, his parents divorced and Michael, his sister Karen and his mother Patricia headed for New York; they didn't stay long and soon ended up in L.A. (in 1972), where his step-father, a jazz musician named Walter Urban Jr....
 
92.
Natalie Imbruglia
Natalie Jane Imbruglia was born on Tuesday, February 4, 1975, in Sydney, Australia, to Maxene (Anderson) and Elliot Imbruglia. Her father is Sicilain (from Lipari) and her mother has English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish ancestry. She grew up in a small beach town on the New South Wales coast called Berkeley Vale...
 
93.
Claudia Karvan
Claudia Karvan is one of Australia's most recognized actresses, having achieved popular success and critical acclaim through her work in film and television. Having begun work at 14, Karvan has an extensive filmography. She first appeared in Gillian Armstrong's High Tide with Judy Davis, then in Phillip Noyce's Echoes of Paradise...
 
94.
Steve Bisley
Popular Australian actor born in New South Wales, whose earlier film work typified the "Aussie larrikin" sterotype with his lively and animated acting style, blonde hair and lairish grin. Bisley broke into film alongside fellow NIDA graduate Mel Gibson in the surfie flick Summer City, followed by a minor role in Newsfront...
 
95.
Paul Mercurio
Blame it on Elvis. It was the lusty gyrations of The King in Jailhouse Rock that inspired nine-year-old Paul Joseph Mercurio to dance. His mother, Jean, responded with her usual supportive posture and enrolled Paul in a local ballet school. From there (with a short surfing break) it was on to John Curtin College of the Arts...
 
97.
Brendan Cowell
Australian actor Brendan Cowell was raised in an artistic family, with both of his sisters involved in dance and music. From a young age, Brendan created his own shows to perform in the family living room after dinner. At age 8, he was cast in a commercial while awaiting one his sisters to come out of a rehearsal...
 
98.
 
99.
“ Born February 6, 1980 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia ” - singinggirl