Friday, December 24, 2010

Top Australian actors making it big in US television

HOME-GROWN Australian talent is scattered throughout the entertainment industry across the world.

Some make it bigger than others and a select few hit the fame jackpot, receiving big pay checks and international acclaim.

television is a honey pot for Australian actors but many fly under the radar due to their convincing foreign accents and Hollywood lifestyles.

Below is (the closest I could get to making) a gallery of Australian actors who have staring roles in American television series.

Some made a career for themselves before making the move to the US while other’s careers took off the moment they reached American soil.

Which are your favourites? Have I missed any familiar faces?

  • Toni Collette has graced the screen in films like Muriel’s Wedding, The Sixth Sense and Little Miss Sunshine but recently made the switch to television playing the lead role in US series United States of Tara. Her performance as a suburban housewife with dissociative identity disorder has already won much acclaim; Collette won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for best actress this year.
  • Simon Baker hails from Tassie and appeared in Aussie soaps Home and Away and Heartbreak High before making the move to the US and landing the lead role in CBS television series The Mentalist. The charming blonde-hair-and-blue-eyes consultant ruffles a few feathers and many a ladies hearts in the 3 season strong show.

  • Rachel Griffiths’ claim to fame came from budding up with pal Toni Collette in Muriel’s Wedding but she has found great success in American drama series Six Feet Under and currently stars in ABC Primetime drama Brothers & Sisters with veteran Sally Field and Callista Flockhart.
  • Anthony LaPaglia may be a gifted football player but he has certainly made his mark on the world of film and television. His performance as protagonist “Jack” Malone in all seven seasons of Without a Trace has made such an impact that LaPaglia now speaks naturally in an American accent.
  • Rose Byrne hails from Balmain in Sydney’s inner-west but the brunette beauty has found her home in US prime time television as protégée to ruthless lawyer (played by Glenn Close), Ellen Parsons, in Damages.
  • Jesse Spencer is further evidence Australia is fantastic at producing gorgeous blonde hair and blue-eyed charmers. After spending six years playing Billy Kennedy in Aussie soap Neighbours Spencer found his international break as Dr. Chase in hit medical drama House.
  • Yvonne Strahovski graduated with straight A’s from the University of Western Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts in Performance and went on to work in a string of Aussie series like Headland and Sea Patrol. Her career has since taken off staring as CIA agent Sarah Walker in the US spy comedy Chuck.
  • Dominic Purcell is of British blood but moved to Bondi on Australia’s east coast when he was two. Purcell landed the title role in US sci-fi drama series John Doe in 2002 but most audiences know him as Lincoln Burrows in Prison Break.
  • Emilie de Ravin was accepted into the Australian Ballet School in Victoria at fifteen but later gave up her dance shoes for acting when she moved to Los Angeles at eighteen. While there she stared as alien/human hybrid Tess Harding in teen television series Roswell and later Claire in hit ABC drama Lost.
  • Julian McMahon began his career as a model and later stared in Home and Away. Ten years later the son of former Australian Prime Minister, Sir William McMahon, has become a staple of American television staring as demon Cole Turner in Charmed for five years and currently as the womanising plastic surgeon Dr. Christian Troy on the hit drama Nip/Tuck.
  • Anna Torv learnt the acting craft on Australian shores, having studied at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), but has achieved acclaim as the lead star of sci-fi drama Fringe. Torv plays Olivia Dunham, a young FBI agent assigned to investigate the spread of unexplained phenomena.

PUBLISHED: The Disney movie vault: A work of magic or a money-making machine?

Just in time for Christmas, here is another way of thinking about Disney's Vault practice where it puts its classic films on moratorium for up to ten years at a time.

All for what?

Apparently to "preserve" the films and keep them "special" for "generations to come".

In other words, potentially make a 10 year old child wait until they are 20 to be able to purchase one of their favourite films.

What do you think?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Review: Uncle Vanya a treat for Sydneysiders

I saw Sydney Theatre Company's Uncle Vanya earlier last week and a review will be up soon but I wanted to say beforehand that it was fantastic.

Cate Blanchett, Richard Roxburgh, Hugo Weaving and Jacki Weaver on stage at the same time is dynamite. To have international stars all come back to Australia to perform is such a treat and makes for a memorable theatre experience.

Uncle Vanya is on at Sydney Theatre until January 1, 2011. If you get your hands on tickets, run, don't walk. You won't regret it.

UPDATE: REVIEW of performance 1pm Wednesday 8th December 20110

SYDNEYSIDERS were in for a treat when Sydney Theatre Company took on Chekov's Uncle Vanya with a stellar cast.

Following up from their critically acclaimed production of August: Osage County, STC proved they are well on their way out of (and hopefully never back to) the red.

Staring John Bell, Cate Blanchett, Sandy Gore, Hayley McElhinney, Anthony Phelan, Richard Roxburgh, Andrew Tighe, Jacki Weaver and Hugo Weaving, the small cast did justice and then some to Chekov's classic tale of melancholy.

Andrew Upton's adaptation brought Australian accents but kept Russian references which initially made for an uneasy fit.

However, it soon became clear Russian accents were not needed for authenticity as the range of Australian accents used clearly marked the social status of each character.

Furthermore, the play's setting- which took place in the Serebryakov family estate, a hot but occasionally rainy climate- seemed easily interchangeable with either the Australian outback or a warm summer in remote Russia.

The subtleties in script and action make for an enriching play.

Long silences interrupted by idle talk of the weather with characters disjointly scattered across the stage- part of a family yet very much alone- reinforce the sadness of the tragi-comedy.

The use of traditional, upbeat Russian folk music provides a jarring contrast to the reality of their "wasted" lives and enhances the irony of the play.

Comedic moments are just that, particularly Weaver's opening exchange with Weaving and Blanchett and McElhinney's drunken confessions.

Most memorable of all is the the pseudo-climax half way through act two that showcases Roxbrurgh's acting chops.

The chilling scene sets your mind in motion and the unwinding of the rest of the play leave the audience contemplating the implication of classic themes such as estrangement, the meaning of life and what death will bring.

Having so much Australian talent on stage is almost surreal at times, but the cast work so well together that the celebrity status of the actors quickly fades and the brutal story and fate of their characters receive our full attention.

Uncle Vanya runs at the Sydney Theatre in Walsh Bay until January 1, 2011. Tickets are almost (if not completely) sold out but if you can get your hands on some, I would highly recommended watching and engaging with this piece of gripping theatre.