Six Aussies making it big on the small screen

By 16 November 2015The latest, World Stage

It’s not just the Hemsworth brothers making heads turn in Hollywood, with the small screen gobbling up Australians at a mile-a-minute too.

It’s no wonder people question if there’s something in the water here in Australia.

Home and Away alone has been the launching pad for mega-stars including Chris Hemsworth, Guy Pearce and Isla Fisher (including a few of the names on this list).

But not all Aussies flutter to Hollywood just for film.

In this new Golden Age of Television, it’s no surprise to see Australian talent packing out the credits of top American, British and Australian series alike.

When he’s not starring in Australian flicks like Red Dog and superb sci-fi Predestination, Noah Taylor can be seen in smash hit Game of Thrones and Peaky Blinders, as well as a variety of Hollywood blockbusters.

On the flip side, Cate Blanchett is currently getting Oscar buzz for her role in Carol, but is returning home to develop and direct new Australian TV series Stateless.

From Simon Baker (The Mentalist) to Ryan Kwanten (True Blood), there’s no shortage of Australian success stories on the small screen. Even better, the majority of these names don’t forget their Aussie heritage, returning to our shores to continue making home-grown stories.

Here are just a few examples of Aussies dazzling us with their extraordinary talent.

Ben Mendelsohn

Once described as a man with “hangdog appeal”, Mendelsohn has a knack for playing unhinged or haunted characters (just try and think of his Animal Kingdom performance without a shiver).

And in the wake of David Michod’s crime drama, the US is finally cottoning onto what a talent Mendelsohn is. Aside from high-profile film roles, including a gig in The Dark Knight Rises, he starred in the Netflix original series Bloodline, scoring an Emmy nod for his performance and securing a spot on season two.

But Australians have long known Mendelsohn is hot property. He started out (as many Aussie actors do) on Neighbours, and had roles on popular series The Secret Life of Us, as well as Love My Way with Claudia Karvan and Tangled.

Jacki Weaver

Another Animal Kingdom alumnus, Weaver’s career in Hollywood has also skyrocketed since her Academy Award-nominated role as matriarch Janine ‘Smurf’ Cody.

Following her acclaimed turn in Silver Linings Playbook with Jennifer Lawrence, Weaver is now starring in the Aussie heart-warmer Last Cab to Darwin. However, she is also carving it up on the small screen too. She scored a role on the series Blunt Talk, produced by Patrick Stewart and Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane, about a British newscaster (Stewart) who moves to Los Angeles. Season two was picked up before the first season even went to air.

Not one to forget her roots, Weaver returned home to film Foxtel’s new six part mini-series Secret City set to air in 2016. Weaver joined the cast as a powerbroker in the Australian Labor Party in the “compelling and intriguing Australian political drama”.

Patrick Clair

Yes, that Emmy Award-winning, captivating and chilling opening credits to HBO hit drama True Detective was created by an Australian – by Brisbane digital artist Patrick Clair, to be exact.

He also concocted the moody, blood-draped imagery of the intro to Netflix superhero series Daredevil, and no surprise, was enlisted to create the opening for the second series of True Detective as well.

But the 33-year-old first made his mark in Australian TV on programs such asHungry Beast, with film critic Marc Fennell (who still has high praise for Clair), and The Chaser.

Melissa George

Perth-born George is arguably one of Australia’s most successful TV stars. Her enviable career began back in 1993 with Home and Away, before she was snapped up by Hollywood, appearing in the hit series Friends, Alias, Grey’s Anatomy, and most recently in The Good Wife.

Her controversial part as Rosie (the mother of the slapped child) in Aussie series The Slap was met with wide acclaim. So much so, that when the US bought the rights for their own take on the tale, George was recast in the role.

Angus Sampson

You would be forgiven for not realising Angus Sampson was an Aussie in his latest role. The hard-working thespian sports a solid Minnesota accent as Bear Gerhardt in season two of Fargo – the critically-acclaimed series inspired by the film.

But many would recognise Sampson, who apart from appearing in Insidious andInsidious: Chapter 2 has starred in a wealth of Australian film and TV.

This year there was a role in the blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road, but he has also appeared in everything from Paper Giants and Beaconsfield, to horror flick100 Bloody Acres. Sampson also starred and co-directed The Mule – one of the first films in Australia to try a VOD release.

Deborah Riley

Australian production designer Deborah Riley has been spending a lot of time in Iceland and Spain lately, having taken over as lead production designer on the hit series Game of Thrones ahead of series four.

Her talent in creating Westeros and the look of new locations like Dorne meant Riley was recognised with an International Emmy for her efforts this year.

You can also catch her work in many homegrown films, including Jindabyne andMoulin Rouge!