The trend of talented Australian actors making it big on the world stage shows no sign of diminishing. In film, we have our Russell Crowe’s and Hugh Jackman’s, while in television, it would appear that casting an Aussie is considered de rigueur (see True Blood, House, Damages et al). In Australia there is deficit in quality productions and competition for film and television roles is fierce among local talent. It is little wonder so many antipodean thespians jump a plane to chase their Hollywood dream. Yet for every Ryan Kwanten, there are blokes back home who have gone about quietly cultivating their craft. These are our best kept secrets and actors who are at the top of their game.
Here is Record | Preserve | Share’s look at five actors international audiences should keep an eye on:
At 41, Ben Mendelsohn has matured into arguably Australia’s greatest acting talent. From his boyish roles in iconic Australian films from the late 80s and early 90s (see The Year My Voice Broke, The Big Steal, Idiot Box), he has progressed into playing darker and more emotionally complex characters. Last year’s unsettling Beautiful Kate was a revelation and his performance in this year’s Animal Kingdom was nothing short of masterclass. International audiences will have the opportunity to see more of Mendelsohn in 2011, when he stars in The Killer Elite alongside Robert De Niro, Clive Owen and Jason Statham.
Don Hany rose to prominence for his role in the Australian television drama, East West 101. Hany plays Zane Malik, an Arab detective, struggling with his identity as he works in Sydney’s Major Crime Squad investigating crime and murder in all quarters of multicultural Sydney. In real life, Hany is a first generation Australian with an Iraqi father and Hungarian mother, and has said that he identifies with many aspects of his character. His performance saw him take home the award for Most Outstanding Actor at the Logies (the Australian Emmy’s) in both 2008 and 2010. At 35, Hany adds a measured intensity and deep integrity to every performance – the only way is up for this bloke.
Sullivan Stapleton is best known to Australian audiences for roles in the edgy cable TV drama series Satisfaction and critically acclaimed drama The Secret Life of Us. But it’s his darker performances as a meph-head biker in Underbelly and the drug dealing Craig Cody in the Australian film Animal Kingdom that have really made people sit up and take notice – including the US. Stapleton has recently been signed to star in a new television drama from Joel Silver, the producer behind the blockbuster Matrix franchise. The series, The Odds, is described as ”a buddy cop show set in Las Vegas where the cops are just as outrageous as the crimes they solve”.
A uni drop-out shunned by the major acting schools, on screen, Dan Wyllie has captured attention playing loons and fools (see his character Bluey opposite Eric Bana in Chopper as a prime example). But Wyllie’s background is predominantly in theatre, which explains why he seems to be able to add subtle theatrical depth (be it comedic or dramatic) to his every performance. It was in the award winning Australian television series Love My Way playing Charlie Jackson (opposite Mendelsohn) that audiences got to see the full extent of his range.
With numerous stage and TV roles, Simon Lyndon is the guy Australian audiences “sort of know”. At 39, Lyndon is a talented character actor who always seems on the fringe of breakout fame. He played a feature role in Blackrock and charmed Aussie viewers in the television mini-series, My Brother Jack. He had an appearance in Terence Malick’s The Thin Red Line and received critical acclaim for his role in Chopper with Eric Bana, for which he won an AFI Award for Best Supporting Actor. With his thick accent and shock of blonde hair, there is something so distinctly Aussie and “knock-about” in all of Lyndon’s characters. Next up for Lyndon is the local production, Caught Inside , which had its premier at the Sydney Film Festival earlier this month (trailer below).