Australia has always punched above its weight in delivering star-quality talent to the world.
Aussies such as Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman, singing and acting legend Olivia Newton-John and actor, singer, dancer and all-round good guy Hugh Jackman have long been household names worldwide for their talent, abilities and that affable, down-to-earth quality that comes from growing up down under.
Through launching pads like TV's Home and Away and Neighbours, and revered drama institutions such as Sydney's NIDA, Australia has a history of nurturing its talents before seeing them shoot to worldwide stardom in movies, tv, music, or on the catwalk.
Here, are the best of the best. From a long list, we’ve culled it down to 25 of the most successful and famous Australian celebrities in the fields of film, music, modelling and tv celebrities.
25. Sam Worthington
After growing up in Rockingham, near Perth in WA, Worthington trained at NIDA (The National Institute of Dramatic Art) before landing Australian TV and film roles including 2003’s Gettin’ Square. Playing Jack Sully in the James Cameron blockbuster Avatar (2009) made him an international star and one of the most famous male Aussie celebs in Hollywood. He lives in the US with wife, Australian model Lara Worthington, and their two children.
24. Rebel Wilson
She had people rolling in the aisles long before she was a movie star and just a tv celebrity. The former comedian played the memorable Toula on SBS’s Pizza and had other stints on Australian TV shows, before the western Sydney girl moved to the US and landed parts in films including Bridesmaids, What to Expect When You’re Expecting and the Pitch Perfect franchise. She lives in Hollywood.
23. Liam Hemsworth
Like his brothers, actors Chris and Luke, Liam Hemsworth began his career on an Australian soap before moving on to become major actors in Hollywood.
After playing Josh Taylor in Neighbours, the Melbourne-born actor set his sights on Hollywood. In 2010, he starred in The Last Song with Miley Cyrus (whom he would marry in 2018), and found a mass audience through his role as Gale Hawthorne in The Hunger Games. Hemsworth, who has homes in the US and Australia, has also starred in Empire State and Independence Day: Resurgance.
22. Simon Baker
He was a familiar face on Australian TV screens, playing roles in E Street, A Country Practice, Home and Away and more, before Hollywood beckoned. After a seedy role in the classic L. A. Confidential, alongside Australians Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce, Baker featured in a number of films before landing what would become his signature role in TV's The Mentalist. He has three children with his wife, Australian actress Rebecca Rigg.
21. Rachel Griffiths
She was relatively unknown when she was cast as Muriel’s best friend Rhonda in the classic 1994 Australian comedy Muriel’s Wedding, and Rachel Griffiths hasn’t looked back since. Her film credits include My Best Friend’s Wedding, Saving Mr Banks and Hacksaw Ridge. And she starred in the wildly popular series Six Feet Under. Rachel lives in Melbourne, Australia with husband Andrew Taylor, with whom she has three children.
20. Rose Byrne
The Sydney-raised female actress made her Australian film debut at the age of 13 in Dallas Doll. From 1999, she appeared in a number of films, including Gregor Jordan’s Two Hands, alongside Heath Ledger, before winning her first Hollywood as a background handmaiden in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. By 2007, she was being cast regularly in Hollywood studio films and in 2009 became a blockbuster star through her role in the Nicolas Cage vehicle Knowing. Since then, she’s starred in Insidious, Bridesmaids, X Men: First Class, Neighbours and Peter Rabbit. She has two children with husband, US actor Bobby Cannavale.
19. Hugo Weaving
He was one of Australia’s go-to actors, appearing in gems such as the Bodyline TV series, Proof and Bangkok Hilton (with Nicole Kidman). Then, when The Matrix exploded into cinemas in 1999, his role as the virtual Agent Smith propelled him to stardom. These days, Weaving, who has a son and daughter with long-time partner Katrina Greenwood, works in both Australian and Hollywood productions.
18. Isla Fisher
The former Home and Away star is one of the most recognisable Australian celebs in Hollywood, having appeared in such hits as Wedding Crashers, The Great Gatsby and Now You See Me. Born in Australia (Perth), the actress has three children with husband Sacha Baron Cohen. They have homes in London and L.A.
17. Naomi Watts
She’s come a long way since rejecting Tom Cruise for a lamb roast in a TV ad in the ’80s. Moving to the US after some Australian TV stints, she featured in several films before getting her break in the critically acclaimed David Lynch film, Mulholland Drive. Since then Watts, who has two children with ex Liev Schreiber, has starred in 21 Grams, King Kong, The Wave and more.
16. Keith Urban
Before he hooked up with Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, who was born in New Zealand and grew up in Queensland, was relatively unknown down under. But since the 1990s he has been a country music star in the US, where he moved to in 1992. He has also been a judge on TV's The Voice and American Idol. He is both an Australian and US citizen and has two children with Kidman.
15. Guy Pearce
Like Hugo Weaving, Pearce was one of the drag queens in in the 1994 Australian hit film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. After that road trip, the Neighbours alum scored roles in L.A. Confidential, Memento, The King’s Speech and Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel Prometheus. The former Geelong boy has one child with Dutch actress Carice van Houten.
14. Toni Collette
Playing the title role in Muriel’s Wedding launched Collette into a career that included starring roles in About a Boy, The Hours and Little Miss Sunshine. In 2000, she was nominated for an Oscar for her role as the anguished mother in the box office smash The Sixth Sense. She has won multiple awards, including an Emmy and Golden Globe for her role as Tara Gregson in Showtime’s United States of Tara.
13. Miranda Kerr
After catching the world’s eye as a Victoria’s Secret Angel in 2007, Miranda Kerr has become one of the world's most-recognisable models. She has a son, Flynn with her ex Orlando Bloom, and a son, Hart, with billionaire husband Evan Spiegal.
12. Margot Robbie
Neighbours alum Margot Robbie from Dalby, QLD stunned audiences with her performance (and flawless Brooklyn accent) in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street in 2013 and has been a Hollywood superstar since.
In 2018, she was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Tonya Harding in I, Tonya. She lives in L.A. with husband Tom Ackerley.
11. Chris Hemsworth
From humble beginnings growing up in Melbourne and the Northern Territory outback, Hemsworth is now one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, best-known for playing Thor in the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In 2014, People magazine named him as its “Sexiest Man Alive”. He lives with wife Elsa Pataky and their three kids in NSW’s Byron Bay.
10. Kylie Minogue
While many stars used Neighbours as a launching pad for their acting careers, Kylie had other things in mind. After releasing her debut single "Locomotion" in 1987, Minogue went on to become one of Australia’s most successful music acts, recording hits such as "I Should Be So Lucky", "Better The Devil You Know" and "I Can’t Get You Out Of My Head". The Londoner's 2018 album Golden was the singer’s 14th.
9. Hugh Jackman
Throughout the world he’s well-known for playing Wolverine in the X-Men franchise, but Hugh Jackman can do a lot more than sprout hair on his face. A talented singer and dancer who hails from Sydney, Jackman won a Tony award for his portrayl as Peter Allen in Broadway's The Boy From Oz. He’s also starred in Van Helsing, The Prestige and 2017’s hit The Greatest Showman. He has two children with wife, actress Deborra-Lee Furness.
8. Cate Blanchett
One of Australia’s most successful and critically acclaimed actresses, the NIDA graduate began her acting career on the stage in 1992 opposite Geoffrey Rush in the Sydney Theatre Company production of Oleanna by David Mamet. Her first film role was in Paradise Road in 1997 and by the next year she was a worldwide sensation after portraying QE1 in Elizabeth, for which she was nominated an Oscar (many critics believe she should have won, with the gong handed to Gwyneth Paltrow for Shakespeare in Love).
She’s been nominated a total of seven times for an Oscar and won twice (Blue Jasmine and The Aviator). Cate is still living in Australia (Sydney) with husband, playwright and screenwriter Andrew Upton, and their four children.
7. Paul Hogan
He was a beloved star in Australia through Nine’s The Paul Hogan Show and as Crocodile Dundee proved in 1986, his comedy translated throughout the world. The movie remains the highest-grossing Australian film. Hogan divorced his wife Noelene in 1986, later marrying his Dundee co-star Linda Kozlowski. He has six children from the two relationships and lives in the US.
6. Heath Ledger
His star was still on the rise upon his untimely death in 2008, but his legacy lives on. After his impressive turn in the Australian film Two Hands, Ledger appeared in 10 Things I Hate About You, A Knight's Tale, and The Patriot alongside Mel Gibson. He was nominated for an Oscar for his revered performance in Brokeback Mountain and in 2008, he memoraly played The Joker in The Dark Knight, a role for which he won a posthumous Oscar. He is survived by Matilda, his daughter with actress Michelle Williams.
Heath was found dead on January 22 2008 in New York City.
5. Elle MacPherson
What hasn't Elle MacPherson done? Born in Australia (Sydney), the former super model is a businesswoman, television host and actress. First appearing in a Tab cola ad in 1982, MacPherson went on to become part of a new generation of supermodels that included Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Cindy Crawford. In 1989, she appeared on the cover of Time, which labelled her “The Body”—a nickname that stuck. MacPherson has two children and reportedly now lives in the US after living for years in London.
4. Olivia Newton-John
One of Australia’s darlings, the singer enjoyed a successful music career in the 70s, but it wasn’t until starring in the film version of the Broadway hit Grease, that the world became hopelelly devoted to the young star. Now battling breast cancer the mother of one lives with husband John Easterling in the US.
3. Russell Crowe
Yes, he wasn’t born down under, but the Oscar winner still calls Australia home. After TV and film roles in Australia, including his memorable turn in 1992's Romper Stomper, Crowe scored roles in Hollywood, including in L.A. Confidential, before picking up an Oscar nomination in 1999 for his inspiring portrayl as tobacco industy whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand. He lost, but picked up the gong the next year for Gladiator. He’s also starred in Cinderella Man, A Beautiful Mind and Robin Hood. He lives in Sydney and has two children with ex Danielle Spencer.
2. Mel Gibson
Despite his controversies, Mel Gibson, who was born in the US and grew up in Sydney, remains one of the most successful filmmakers and actors in Hollywood. He soared to fame in 1979 in the title role of George Miller’s Mad Max, and his star kept rising through films such as Gallipoli, The Year of Living Dangerously and the Lethal Weapon franchise.
In 1995, he directed and starred in the historical drama Braveheart, for which he picked up Oscars for Best Director and Best Film. His 2016 war drama, Hacksaw Ridge, proved he was still one of the world’s great filmmakers. He is currently planning a “Resurrection” sequel to his 2004 labour of love, The Passion of the Christ.
1. Nicole Kidman
Who would have thought that the redhead from the “Bop Girl” music video would rise to such heights? Following her teenage roles (remember BMX Bandits?) Kidman stole the screen in Philip Noyce’s Dead Calm, before teaming up with her future husband Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder in 1990.
By 1995, she was one of the world’s biggest movie stars with roles in To Die For and Batman Forever. Throughout her eclectic career the talented actress has seemed as comfortable in dramatic roles (The Portrait of a Lady; Rabbit Hole) as she did in the fun stuff (Bewitched, Paddington). A four-time Oscar nominee, she picked up the gong for her portrayl of Virginia Woolf in The Hours in 2002.
In 2018, she won a Best Actress Golden Globe for her role in HBO’s Big Little Lies. She lives with husband Keith Urban and their two children in homes in Australia and the US. She also shares an adopted son and daughter with ex Cruise.