Tuesday, June 30, 2009
When most people think of Australian actresses and actors in Hollywood, they usually think of the obvious ones: Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, and even Russel Crowe (who’s actually from New Zealand.) But the presence of Australian actresses in the United States is far broader again.
Australian actresses have lead or major roles in a range of American television programs and movies, but they aren’t always obvious, because most adopt American accents.
Here’s a list of seven actresses you might not know are Australian (well, presuming you’re not reading this from Australia.)
Anna Torv (Fringe)
31 year old Anna Torv was born in Melbourne, and grew up on the Gold Coast (Queensland.) A graduate of Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Torv made her TV debut in the Australian TV series White Collar Blue, before landing a regular spot on Australian soap The Secret Life of Us. Her selection to play the role of Olivia Dunham on Fringe was considered surprising at the time given her relative lack of experience, however neither Torv, nor the show has ever looked back.
Notably, John Noble, who plays Walter Bishop on the show, is also Australian.
Yvonne Strzechowski (Chuck)
26 year old Yvonne Strzechowski was born in Sydney, and had only light acting experience before Chuck. A graduate of the University of Western Sydney’s Theatre Nepean, she had a number of minor roles on Australian television, before heading the States to try her luck.
Here’s a clip about her audition for Chuck, including Strzechowski speaking without an American accent
Poppy Montgomery (Without a Trace)
36 year old Poppy Montgomery was born in Sydney, and moved to the United States at the age of 18. Montgmorey came into prominence with her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in the 2001 CBS mini-series Blonde, before landing the role of Samantha Spade in Without a Trace.
Melissa George (various)
32 year old Melissa George was born in Perth, Western Australia. Well known in Australia for her long running role on soap Home and Away, George moved to the United States in 1998, where she landed minor roles in movies including Dark City, The Limey, Mulholland Drive and Down with Love.
Her first big breakthrough was playing the role of Lauren Reed on the ABC series Alias in 2003. She’s since started or co-stared in a variety of movies, including The Amityville Horror.
Rose Byrne (Damages)
29 year old Rose Byrne was born in Sydney. Byrne made her television debut in 1995 in Australian soap Echo Point, before taking on a number of smaller roles as she developed her acting skills. Her first movie role was as Dormé, the handmaiden to Natalie Portman’s Senator Padmé Amidala, in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones.
After working her way up the ranks, Byrne has appeared in numerous films, and has been playing one of the leading characters in the TV series Damages.
Miranda Otto (various)
41 year old Miranda Otto was born in Brisbane, and is the daughter of well known actor (in Australia) Barry Otto. Unlike many of her fellow Australian’s, Otto started her career in movies, rising quickly to become a popular lead actress in Australian films.
Her break through role internationally was playing Éowyn, a shieldmaiden of Rohan, in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy starting in 1999. Her first major Hollywood appearance was opposite Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer in the suspense thriller What Lies Beneath in 2000. She also appeared in the TV series Cashmere Mafia, and opposite Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds.
Otto has not vigorously pursued a Hollywood career, dividing her time between productions in the United States, the UK, and Australia, including theater work.
Isla Fisher (various)
33 year old Isla Fisher was born in Oman, but moved to Perth Western Australia at the age of six, and is an Australian citizen. Fisher wrote two best selling novels at the age of 18, before landing a role on Australian soap Home and Away.
Her breakthrough role came in 2002 when she played Mary-Jane, Shaggy’s love interest, in the Scooby-Do movie. In 2005, she won the Breakthrough Performance Award at the MTV Movie Awards for her role in Wedding Crashers, and has more recently starred in Confessions of a Shopaholic. She’s also engaged to Borat and Bruno actor Sacha Baron Cohen.
Here’s a David Letterman interview where Fisher’s accent came up
Rachel Griffiths (Brothers & Sisters)
Emilie de Ravin (Lost)
Frances O’Connor (Cashmere Mafia, others)
Toni Collette (United States of Tara)
Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)
Samantha Noble (Gabriel)
Dichen Lachman (Dollhouse)