Our Favorite Australian Actors
We, as all fans of cinema do, love to take time to reflect on our favorite Australian actors. Anyone familiar with Hollywood knows that the industry loves its Aussies, having made many of them top stars and globally recognized. But our favorite Australian actors have much more than just their country of origin in common: they have talent. And loads of it. From acting and singing to writing and dancing, they are talented in more ways than can be counted. But let’s say we give it a shot and count our five favorite Australian actors anyway . . .
Often referred to as ‘the sexiest man alive’, Hugh Jackman is everyone’s favorite leading man: tall, handsome and equal parts rugged and elegant. What more can you ask for? But he’s much more than just eye candy. He has consistently taken risks in his career, playing roles beyond the standard leading man part. And the industry has rewarded him richly for doing so. Take, for example, his award winning turn playing Peter Allen in the Boy From Oz on Broadway. He not only showed his broad range of talents by singing, dancing and acting the part to perfection, but also won the Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor. Not bad for a guy who can also play Wolverine and was once one of the top contenders to replace Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.
Though his name may have been in the headlines for reasons other than his performances in recent years, there’s just no denying that Russell Crowe is one of the finest actors of his generation. An Oscar winner for his fierce and brilliant portrayal in Gladiator, he (like Jackman) has carved a career out of playing more than standard issue leading man parts. Recall his critically lauded turns in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Insider and you know that this is an actor who can command the screen like no other. Though his recent films like Robin Hood and A Good Year may not have performed up to expectations, you certainly cannot fault Crowe for his performances. Maybe audiences just expect to see him in better films. And they no doubt will in the future.
Though she isn’t quite as famous as some of her fellow Aussie compatriots, you know Naomi Watts as soon as you see her. She’s the woman King Kong fell in love with in Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake! And King Kong wasn’t the only one, as audiences soon wondered where this elegant and supremely talented actress had been for years. Turns out she was right under our noses, appearing in films like Mulholland Drive, The Ring and 21 Grams. Though she was born in England, Watts spent much of her life in Australia and moved to Sydney in 1982. Though it was the Australian film industry that gave her the success that eventually led to her dominance in Hollywood, Watts considers herself British, having spent the first 14 years of her life there.
After nearly two decades in the film industry, Nicole Kidman is now considered Hollywood royalty. There is an unmistakable princess quality to her, not just in terms of her beauty, but in the way she carries herself and presents herself on screen. She has also blossomed into a performer of legendary capability, some calling her the finest actress of her generation. Her unforgettable, Oscar winning performance as Virginia Woolf in The Hours opposite Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore still stands as one of the greatest performances of the last decade. So manifest was she in the role that many who saw the film failed to recognize Kidman as the actor on screen. They thought they were watching someone else altogether! And that, as any actor would tell you, is entirely the point.
Since he passed away in January of 2008, there has been praise heaped upon Heath Ledger, the charming young actor who wowed critics in The Dark Knight and who earned a permanent spot in film history after his breakthrough performance as a closeted gay ranch hand in Brokeback Mountain, for which he earned an Oscar nomination. Ledger continues to cast a long shadow over Hollywood as no other young actor has appeared on the scene with the ability to do what he did: play characters with a rugged mix of fear and fearlessness, of charm and despair. It is a legacy that will remembered for years to come, and will not be easily supplanted by any actor, Australian or otherwise.