Hollywood owes a lot to performers from Down Under. While you may not realize it, Australian celebrities are responsible for many of the blockbuster films we watch, the TV shows we binge on, and the catchy songs we play on repeat. Check out our list of the most famous Australians in show business and find out what they’ve done to make their homeland proud.
Born and raised in Sydney to English parents, Jackman had his breakthrough as Wolverine in the 2000 film X-Men. Today, he holds the Guinness World Record for having “the longest career as a live action Marvel superhero.”
Jackman also has a successful career as a stage actor, performing in popular musicals (Oklahoma!, The Boy from Oz) and multiple one-man shows. His performance in The Boy from Oz earned him both a Tony and Drama Desk Award in 2004. Perhaps that’s why he’s just as good in screen adaptations of musicals—in 2013, he was nominated for an Oscar and won an Emmy for his role in Les Misérables.
Portia de Rossi
You may not have realized that Portia de Rossi is an Aussie. The 48-year-old, born Amanda Lee Rogers, hails from the small city of Horsham. But after changing her name and moving to Los Angeles in the mid 1990s, she made a concerted effort to ditch her Australian accent—and it paid off. Her convincing portrayal as a Boston-based lawyer Nelle Porter on Ally McBeal and the insufferable Californian Lindsay Bluth Fünke on Arrested Development earned her six Screen Actors Guild Award nominations (and one win for McBeal).
Today, de Rossi enjoys life far from Oz—she and wife Ellen DeGeneres own multiple properties in the exclusive community of Montecito, where their neighbors include Oprah, Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle.
Born in Tasmania but raised in New South Wales, actor Simon Baker is another actor who found success after dropping his Aussie twang. For three seasons, he starred as attorney-turned-convict in the CBS drama The Guardian. And from 2008 to 2015, he played the hunky psychic Patrick Jane on The Mentalist—a role that earned him an astonishing $30 million deal.
Baker now lives in Los Angeles, but he keeps close company with fellow Aussies. Naomi Watts is the godmother of his daughter Stella, and Nicole Kidman serves the same role for his second child Harry.
Nicole Kidman is one of those stars who we all recognize as Australian, but what many don’t know is that she was actually born in Hawaii. Her family returned to Oz when she was a toddler and was primarily raised in Sydney, where she got her start in acting.
The rest is history. Kidman boasts an Oscar, five Golden Globes, and two Emmys (just to name a few honors) for her prolific work in film and television. Among her most notable projects are The Hours, Moulin Rouge!, and Big Little Lies. She recently returned Down Under to Byron Bay for production on the new Hulu miniseries Nine Perfect Strangers.
Melbourne native Cate Blanchett began her career as a stage actress in Sydney after graduating from the National Institute of Dramatic Art. But it was her first leading role in the 1997 film Oscar and Lucinda that led to major Hollywood buzz. By the 2000s, she was a major star, splitting work between indie films and blockbusters like The Lord of the Rings. She earned her first Academy Award in 2004 for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator.
Blanchett is widely considered one of the most talented actresses of our time, but she doesn’t work exclusively in front of the camera. She and her husband Andrew Upton served as co-creative directors of the Sydney Theatre Company. Plus, she works tirelessly as an environmental and humanitarian advocate.
Like Nicole Kidman, actor Mel Gibson was born in the United States but moved to Australia as a child. (Although he maintains permanent residency status in Oz, he is actually a dual Irish and American citizen.) His title as People‘s first “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1985 made him a hot commodity in Hollywood, and Gibson ran with it to find success in films like Braveheart and the Lethal Weapon series.
Gibson was plagued with scandals in the 2000s, including a DUI, charges of making anti-Semitic remarks, abuse accusations, and an ugly divorce. Nevertheless, his career didn’t suffer. Hacksaw Ridge, which he directed, received multiple Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations in 2017.
Born in New Zealand and raised in Sydney, Russell Crowe was born to work in show business. His parents worked as film set caterers, and he delivered his first line of dialogue on an Australian TV show at age five or six. Crowe attracted attention for his work in the 1992 film Romper Stomper, but his work in American films launched him to superstardom. In the 2000s, he received three consecutive Oscar nominations for Best Actor for The Insider, Gladiator, and A Beautiful Mind.
Like Mel Gibson, Crowe has been the subject of tabloid headlines over the years. His notorious short temper even led to an arrest and second-degree assault charges in 2005. But Crowe continues to be a box office draw. In 2022, he will join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starring as Zeus in Thor: Love and Thunder.
Rose Byrne, born and raised in the Sydney suburb of Balmain, drew praise for her first leading role in the 2000 film The Goddess of 1967. She continued to act in movies for the next seven years, but her role in the FX series Damages is widely considered her mainstream breakthrough. She earned two Primetime Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Award nominations for her work on the show.
Byrne is known for mixing things up, showcasing her talent and beauty in comedies (Bridesmaids, Spy), arthouse films (Juliet, Naked) and blockbuster franchises (Star Wars, X-Men.) She currently stars in the Apple TV+ comedy Physical, which has already been renewed for a second season.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers embody California cool vibes, so it might come as a surprise to learn that its iconic bassist Flea didn’t grow up hanging out on its beaches. In fact, he was born in Melbourne, briefly spent some years in the suburbs of New York, and then returned to the Australian capital of Canberra.
Flea only moved to Los Angeles as a young teenager, which is when he befriended Anthony Kiedis and Hillel Slovak. They would later form RHCP and become a global sensation for their signature blend of funk, rap, and rock. Since their 1991 debut, the band has won six Grammys. In 2012, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Flea has also found success with solo pursuits. His 2019 autobiography Acid for the Children received positive reviews from The New York Times and the Atlantic. And in June 2021, he announced that he will star alongside Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie in the period film Babylon.
Sydney native Rebel Wilson once said she intended to pursue a career in math, but a hallucination during an unfortunate bout of malaria convinced her to become an actress instead. Wilson pursued the craft by moving to New York in 2003 and studying improv. She landed small parts in Bridesmaids, Rules of Engagement, and Workaholics, but her role as Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect was her breakthrough.
Wilson currently splits her time between filming the upcoming Netflix comedy Senior Year and keeping her 10 million Instagram followers updated on her everyday adventures.
The world still mourns over the loss of Heath Ledger, who died in 2008 of an accidental drug overdose. The actor, who was born and raised in Perth, left school at 16 to pursue his career. His ambition took him all the way to Hollywood, where he secured supporting roles in The Patriot and Monster’s Ball. Teens fell in love with him when he starred in 10 Thing I Hate About You, but critics hailed him as a legitimate star after his performance in Brokeback Mountain. Ledger received a 2006 Academy Award nomination for the part, then won a posthumous Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2009 for The Dark Knight.
Chris Hemsworth, along with brothers Luke and Liam, got his start in Oz, landing small parts in a handful of TV series. But he got his big break in 2004 when he relocated from his native Melbourne to Sydney to star in the popular soap opera Home and Away. He then made his film (and U.S.) debut in 2009 playing George Kirk in Star Trek. Hemsworth’s career took off from there—he is now an icon for his role as Thor in countless Marvel productions. Future projects include a sequel to his 2020 Netflix hit Extraction, as well as an untitled biopic on Hulk Hogan.
Margot Robbie, a native of Queensland, began her acting career in indie films and the popular Aussie soap opera Neighbours, but her breakthrough role was in Martin Scorsese’s 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street. Today, she’s most easily recognized as Harley Quinn in DC Comics’ Suicide Squad films.
However, Robbie is more than a pretty face in big budget films. Her portrayal of Tonya Harding in I, Tonya, and her supporting role in the 2019 film Bombshell earned her nominations for two Academy Awards and three Golden Globes. Her next move? Winning over the family-friendly genre by starring in an upcoming live-action Barbie film.
With her pitch-perfect (but highly scrutinized) “blaccent,” it’s amazing to learn that Iggy Azalea, born Amethyst Kelly, spent the first 16 years of her life in Australia. Azalea was born in Sydney and raised in the town of Mullumbimby, but the aspiring rapper dropped out of high school at 16 and flew to America under the guise of going on a quick vacation.
The truth is she had no intention of returning home. In 2014, after releasing two mixtapes, she debuted her first studio album The New Classic. It debuted at number 3 on the US Billboard 200 and earned four Grammy nominations (Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance).
Azalea announced that after the August 2021 release of her third album, The End of an Era, she will be taking a hiatus from music.
People of a certain age remember Kylie Minogue from as far back as the 1980s, when she starred in the soap opera Neighbours and scored a chart-topper with a cover of “The Loco-Motion.” But the seemingly ageless pop star blew up in the 2000s with her best-selling album Fever. To date, Minogue—the highest-selling female Australian artist of all time—has a total of 15 studio albums, one Grammy Award, and a record-smashing 17 ARIA Awards.
Age hasn’t mellowed her either. Her 2020 album Disco debuted at number one in the UK and Australia; it was also nominated for a 2021 Billboard Music Award for Top Dance/Electronic Album.
Miranda Kerr was born in Sydney, raised in the rural town of Gunnedah, and spent a short time experiencing city life in Brisbane before she became a worldwide star. She got her start at 13, when she entered and won a modeling competition for Dolly magazine. Despite controversy surrounding her age, she ignored critics and forged ahead in the industry.
Kerr began modeling for sportswear brands (Billabong, Roxy), then scored a Maybelline contract, and finally ascended to the status of being the first Australian Victoria’s Secret Angel. Even if her days as an angel ended nearly a decade ago, she’s still considered one of the hottest women on the planet. Today, Kerr is married to Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel and co-owns KORS organics, a skincare line.
The late Steve Irwin lived up to our image of the typical Australian. Always exclaiming “Crickey!” while dressed in his signature khaki, the wildlife expert became a household name with his TV series The Crocodile Hunter. Viewers loved his boisterous personality, but behind the scenes, Irwin was quite serious about his work as a conservationist and environmentalist.
Before his tragic death in 2006 from a stingray barb, he established the Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation, International Crocodile Rescue, and the Ironbark Station Wildlife Rehabilitation Facility.
Today, his two children, daughter Bindi and son Robert, carry the torch as TV personalities who focus on nature conservation.