World Stage

Six Aussies making it big on the small screen

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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!

Aussie actors in Hollywood

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You might have seen these talented actors in your favourite US TV shows without realising that they are in fact, home-grown. We’re taking a look at some of the Aussies popping up in US drama all over the place.

Yael Stone

Sydney-born Yael graduated from NIDA and starred in a number of Australian TV shows like All Saints and Spirited, before taking on the role of perennially red-lipped, hopeless romantic Lorna Morello in the cult Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Much like Margot Robbie did in The Wolf of Wall Street, Yael nailed the Brooklyn/Boston hybrid accent so convincingly, many are surprised to find out that she is in fact Australian. Stone has been a series regular on the first three seasons, with the fourth set for release in 2016.

Watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix, Quickflix or iTunes. Watch Spirited on iTunes or Google Play.

Bojana Novakovic

Serbia-born Bojana moved to Australia as a child and also graduated from NIDA. You might have seen her in local films Burning Man, Not Suitable For Children, Charlie’s Country and The Little Death, or ABC series Rake. Novakovic has also been working the US and recently starred on the hit Showtime drama Shameless, a remake of the original UK show, where she played the main character Will Gallagher’s love interest, Bianca in season 5.

Watch Not Suitable for Children on Quickflix or iTunes. Watch Charlie’s Country on Quickflix or Google Play. See The Little Death on Quickflix or Google Play.

Josh Lawson

Speaking of The Little Death, its writer and director, Queensland-born Josh Lawson is himself a well-known actor who has starred in all four seasons of the Showtime drama House of Lies as Doug Guggenheim. You would already know Lawson from his prolific acting career in Aussie TV shows like Home and Away, Blue Heelers, Sea Patrol and The Librarians, as well as films Any Questions for Ben?, The Campaign and Anchorman 2: the Legend Continues.

The Little Death is on Quickflix and Google Play. Catch Sea Patrol on iTunes. Watch Any Questions for Ben? on iTunes. The Campaign is on Stan, iTunes ad Google Play. Anchorman 2 is on iTunes and Google Play.


Clare Bowen

Clare Bowen grew up in and around the Sydney and Wollongong region, making a foray into the acting world with small roles in local productions like Home and Away, All Saints and Not Suitable For Children before scoring one of the lead roles in ABC country drama Nashville as the talented but shy singer/songwriter Scarlett O’Connor.

Catch Nashville on iTunes. Not Suitable for Children is on Quickflix and iTunes.

Aisha Dee

Aisha Dee’s breakout role on The Saddle Club paved the way for the young Gold Coast-born actress to secure roles in the US sitcom I Hate My Teenage Daughter as MacKenzie, and in the ABC drama Chasing Life as Beth Kingston, the Australian-born best friend of cancer-stricken April Carve

Matt Passmore

Queensland-born Matthew Passmore started out in Aussie TV shows like Blue Heelers, McLeod’s Daughters and Underbelly before finding success in the US TV industry.  He played the lead role of Jim Longworth in all four season of crime drama The Glades and is currently gracing US TV screens in the title role of Neil Truman in Satisfaction.

McLeod’s Daughters is on Stan and iTunes. Underbelly is available at Stan and iTunes. The Glades is on Google Play.

Maia Mitchell

Talented singer and actress Maia Mitchell was born in Lismore, NSW and made her TV debut in Australian TV series Mortified where she played lead Brittany Flune and even won an AFI award for Best Children’s TV Series. She followed this up with roles in local teen series Trapped and Castaway and Disney comedy Jessie, before taking on the role of Callie Jacob in ABC family drama The Fosters.

Mortified can be found on Netflix.

Aussie invasion: Australian TV directors working around the world

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You’re used to hearing about Australian actors scoring leads around the globe – hey, even Michael Douglas knows it – but did you know our TV directors are nailing it overseas too?

We take a look at a few of the talented Australian TV directors working on some of the most high-profile shows of recent years, including Broadchurch, Doctor Who, Humans, Grey’s Anatomy and Suits.

Jessica Hobbs

Jessica Hobbs cut her teeth on Heartbreak High in the late 90s, before going on to work on iconic Aussie TV shows like McLeod’s Daughters, Love My Way, All Saints, The Slap and Rake. This year she made the jump to one of the U.K.’s hottest properties of the past few years: ITV’s Broadchurch, filming two episodes in the second season.

Daniel Nettheim

Daniel Nettheim, best known for directing 2011’s The Hunter with Willem Dafoe, is also a prolific TV director, having racked up credits for The Secret Life of Us, All Saints, Rush and Dance Academy. More recently Daniel’s been busy on the UK/US sci-fi show Humans and the new season of the BBC’s Doctor Who. He’s currently back in Australia filming Jack Irish with Essential Media for the ABC.

Jonathan Teplitzky

You may remember Jonathan Teplitzky’s work directing the Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth WWI drama, The Railway Man last summer, but he’s also very active in TV world. Jonathan directed two episodes of Australian show Rake last year, before going to the UK to direct episodes of ITV’s Broadchurch and Channel 4 miniseries Indian Summers, about the decline of the British Empire and the birth of modern India.

Cherie Nowlan

Cherie Nowlan is one of the busiest women in TV, racking up credits both here and in the US. Cherie made a name for herself in Australia on shows like Dance Academy, Packed to the Rafters and Crownies, before going Stateside. In the US, she’s directed shows like Gossip Girl, 90210, Grey’s Anatomy, Suits, The Mysteries of Laura, The Messengers and Satisfaction.

Kate Woods

You’ll know Kate Woods from her first feature: the Australian classic and AFI award-winning, Looking for Alibrandi. But you might not know that since then, Kate’s been prolific in the States. She’s worked on shows like Nashville, NCIS: LA, Revenge, Suits, Bones, Castle, Law and Order SVU, Private Practice and Rizzoli & Isles. Kate does occasionally work back home – this year she directed a webisode of Mychonny Moves In with John Luc, and she’s got an adaptation of On the Jelicoe Road in development, which sees her reunited with Alibrandi author Melina Marchetta.

Mat King

Mat King directed Underbelly here in 2011, before going on to direct an episode of Doctor Who for the BBC in 2013 and Law & Order: UK for ITV. Back home, he’s currently shooting season 4 of Nine’s House Husbands with Playmaker and upcoming SyFy series Hunter with Matchbox Pictures.