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digital artwork for the sunday tele

Why Aussie women are the most powerful in Hollywood

Filmmakers' new-found love affair with television - and the opportunity to produce outstanding six hour "director's cut" short series - has been a boon to Australian actors.

Never has there been greater demand for our homegrown talent in Hollywood and abroad, whether it's on the silver screen, on the box or behind the scenes creating content and anointing the next generation of stars.

 

At this year's coveted Golden Globes, Australians dominated acting categories with Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Margot Robbie and Toni Collette standing shoulder to shoulder with the industry's finest and most admired.

Australians are now among the greatest actors of our time. And the most brilliant of them, are women.

In recent years Australian men too have been well represented at the Globes, the British Academy Awards and the international film industry's most revered awards' event, the Oscars.

The Sunday Telegraph this week casts a critical eye over the Australian performers and storytellers who have taken Hollywood by storm.

We have rated the top 30 evaluating them on their awards hauls, their box office takings, their longevity, future demand and, critically, on their investment in technical production, something that protects their future careers and will, in time, reshape an industry created by men with male passions largely in mind

 

1. Cate Blanchett

STAR POWER RATING: 46.5/50

Box office 9/10

Talent + Versatility 10/10

Demand + Longevity 9.5/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 10/10

Technical investment 3.5/5

Hollywood buzz 4.5/5

 

"Actor's actor" Cate Blanchett continues to reinvent and surprise with a career filled with powerful dramatic roles, strong indie departures and some swashbuckling action and fantasy adventure that are pure delight. At 50, the star of Elizabeth, The Aviator, Blue Jasmine and Lord of The Rings is regarded as one of the finest actresses of her generation. With 2015's feature Carol, for which she earned her most recent, and seventh, Oscar nomination (she has collected two plus three BAFTAs and three Golden Globes), she became the recipient of more prestigious international acting awards than any other Australian. Having terrorised the Marvel universe as Hela in 2017's Thor: Ragnarok and turned in a menacing performance in 2019's Where'd You Go Bernadette?, she will next star as beloved comedienne Lucille Ball in the upcoming feature Lucy and Desi. Through her production company Dirty Films she co-produced two of the year's most anticipated TV series, Mrs America and Stateless.

2. Margot Robbie

STAR POWER RATING: 42/50

Box office 7/10

Talent + Versatility 9.5/10

Demand + Longevity 7.5/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 8/10

Technical investment 5/5

Hollywood buzz 5/5

 

In demand from legendary directors like Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, Robbie, at 29, is at the heights of her powers nine years after coming to the attention of Hollywood in the ABC hit TV series Pan Am. Her beauty and on-screen versatility are key to her appeal; she can play sexpot (The Wolf of Wall Street, Focus) ingenue (Bombshell) villain (I, Tonya and Mary, Queen of Scots) and psychotic badass (Suicide Squad) with equal conviction. She won over hardened critics with her gritty yet comedic turn in 2017's I, Tonya, for which she received her first of two Academy Award acting nominations and which she helped finance through her fledgling production company Luckychap. Her second came with this year's feature, Bombshell. She is now committed to producing great films for women and has an astonishing 18 projects in development (states industry website IMDB). She plans to salvage Warner Bros' live action feature Barbie for a new younger audience next.

3. Nicole Kidman

STAR POWER RATING: 41.5/50

Box office 8.5/10

Talent + Versatility 7.5/10

Demand + Longevity 8.5/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 8.5/10

Technical investment 5/5

Hollywood buzz 3.5/5

Nicole Kidman with husband Keith Urban at the Golden Globe Awards in January. Picture: Jon Kopaloff
Nicole Kidman with husband Keith Urban at the Golden Globe Awards in January. Picture: Jon Kopaloff

Ten years after establishing her production company Blossom Films, Kidman has hit her straps as a producer of small screen dramas, notably, and to great success, recent short series Big Little Lies for HBO. With 18 new projects (says IMDB) in pre-production, 15 of which she will produce and may also star in, Kidman is enjoying one of the most bountiful periods of her career. The Academy Award winner remains one of the Australian film industry's most enduring and loved stars. Following her turn as Gretchen Carlson in 2020's Oscar-winning drama Bombshell, Kidman will be seen in back-to-back roles, first in HBO's new TV miniseries The Undoing opposite Hugh Grant, then opposite Meryl Streep and James Corden in musical feature The Prom and in Australian author Liane Moriarty's new short series for TV, Nine Perfect Strangers. She's also signed to Amazon's newly acquired miniseries Pretty Things and at 52 shows no sign of slowing down.

4. Rose Byrne

STAR POWER RATING: 41/50

Box office 8.5/10

Talent + Versatility 8.5/10

Demand + Longevity 8/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 7/10

Technical investment 4/5

Hollywood buzz 5/5

Rose Byrne marked her Hollywood status in TV series Damages. Picture: Tim Hunter.
Rose Byrne marked her Hollywood status in TV series Damages. Picture: Tim Hunter.

Having shone in the 1999 Australian film Two Hands opposite Heath Ledger, the TV actress landed a blink-and-you-miss-it part playing Amidala, Natalie Portman's handmaiden, in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, before landing a real supporting role two years later alongside Brad Pitt and Peter O'Toole in Troy. A succession of roles, including in Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, followed but it was her star turn alongside Glenn Close in the US TV series Damages (2007-2012) that brought two Golden Globe and two Emmy nominations and marked her legitimate Hollywood arrival. A role in the Oscar-nominated 2011 comedy Bridesmaids - in which she deadpans with aplomb - brought a flood of comedy roles, notably in The Internship, Neighbours and Spy. A repeat role in the X-Men franchise secured her status as a CIA heroine to the comic universe, reaching a broader audience. Her screen-stealing turn as Gloria Steinem in Mrs America shows that at 40, the fragile doe-eyed beauty still has her best days ahead of her, including in Jon Stewart's new political comedy Irresistible opposite Steve Carrell. Has productions in the pipes with her Dollhouse Pictures company

5. Mel Gibson

STAR POWER RATING: 41/50

Box office 8.5/10

Talent + Versatility 8/10

Demand + Longevity 8/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 9/10

Technical investment 4/5

Hollywood buzz 3.5/5

Almost 15 years after being scorned by Hollywood, Mel Gibson is now more in demand than ever.
Almost 15 years after being scorned by Hollywood, Mel Gibson is now more in demand than ever.

Having been scorned by Hollywood in 2006 for being, in his words, "loaded, angry and arrested", the 64-year-old star of 1979's Mad Max is back in demand, playing bitter grizzled outcasts on the silver screen and writing and producing. Gibson - star of Gallipoli, The Year of Living Dangerously, Mrs Soffel, four Lethal Weapon films, Hamlet, Maverick, Ransom, The Patriot, What Women Want and two-time Oscar winning, BAFTA and Golden Globe winning Braveheart, which he also directed, produced and wrote, like The Passion of Christ - was revived with a minor role in 2014's The Expendables 3. Since then, he has starred in a movie a year, producing two more and, through his production company Icon, directed 2016's Hacksaw Ridge, winner of two Oscars and one BAFTA. Not too proud to play mad second fiddle, Gibson now has three new films in post-production (Fatman, Force of Nature and Waldo) and seven more in development, three of which he will direct, and there are reports a fifth Lethal Weapon film is also on the table.

6. Toni Collette

STAR POWER RATING: 40.5/50

Box office 7/10

Talent + Versatility 10/10

Demand + Longevity 9.5/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 7/10

Technical investment 3/5

Hollywood buzz 4/5

Since her breakthrough performance in Muriel’s Wedding, Toni Collette has slipped from one genre to the next. Picture: Jeff Spicer
Since her breakthrough performance in Muriel’s Wedding, Toni Collette has slipped from one genre to the next. Picture: Jeff Spicer

From the moment she appeared in her breakthrough film, Muriel's Wedding in 1994, Collette has been challenging audience expectations. She has slipped from one genre to the next: 1996's Emma gave way to 1998's glam rock musical drama Velvet Goldmine, both a fine body of Australian work leading to her Hollywood arrival in M. Night Shyamalan's 1999 monster hit The Sixth Sense, for which she earned her Oscar nomination. Critics and audiences alike loved her in dramas About A Boy, The Hours, Little Miss Sunshine, Hitchcock and in popular comedies Tammy and 2019's Knives Out. Her television work in DreamWorks' United States of Tara won her a Golden Globe and two Emmys while Netflix/BBC's Wanderlust and the CBC series Unbelievable have maintained her reputation as one of the best and most prolific actors of our time. Collette has new projects on the table through her production company Vocab Films. She will next appear in horror feature I'm Thinking Of Ending Things, sci-fi thriller Stowaway with Anna Kendrick and the Netflix drama Pieces of Her alongside Adam Sandler.

7. Hugh Jackman

STAR POWER RATING: 40/50

Box office 9/10

Talent + Versatility 8.5/10

Demand + Longevity 8.5/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 7.5/10

Technical investment 2.5/5

Hollywood buzz 4/5

Despite some offbeat feature choices, Hugh Jackman remains bankable in Hollywood. Picture: Tracey Nearmy
Despite some offbeat feature choices, Hugh Jackman remains bankable in Hollywood. Picture: Tracey Nearmy

It is three years since Jackman saw a decade-long dream through to its conclusion and carried the crowd-pleasing musical event The Greatest Showman to international acclaim, achieving separation from the role that for 17 years largely defined his film career, that of the mutant X-Men character Logan, The Wolverine. Despite some offbeat feature choices, Jackman remains bankable in Hollywood. He returns to the small screen on HBO this month in the biopic Bad Education, the story of real-life US educator turned criminal embezzler Frank Tassone. It's a role film critics are describing as Jackman's best work to date. Next, he'll be seen in the romance sci-fi thriller Reminiscence. With musicals back in vogue, the talented all-rounder and family favourite, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in 2012's Les Miserables, still harbours dreams of bringing Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1945 musical Carousel to the big screen. If anyone can, Jackman can.

8. Sam Neill

STAR POWER RATING: 38.5/50

Box office 8/10

Talent + Versatility 9/10

Demand + Longevity 10/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 7/10

Technical investment 1/5

Hollywood buzz 3.5/5

As cinema’s established straight man Sam Neill has been in constant demand, both locally and abroad,
As cinema’s established straight man Sam Neill has been in constant demand, both locally and abroad,

Three-time Golden Globe winner Neill has been in the business since 1972 and at 72 remains in high demand, starring in three films a year most recently. Early success came with 1979's My Brilliant Career, bringing interest from Hollywood for the concluding part of the Omen trilogy, 1981's The Final Conflict. As cinema's established straight man Neill has been in constant demand, both locally and abroad, cherrypicking only a handful of blockbusters to complement lots of small budget indie work. Dead Calm, The Piano, Sirens, The Dish and Ride Like a Girl sit comfortably alongside Hollywood blockbusters The Hunt for Red October, Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III for Steven Spielberg, The Horse Whisperer, Jurassic Park IIII and Thor: Ragnarok in Neill's resume. Next comes his turn in British TV comedy series Flack, which reunites him with The Piano's Anna Paquin, the feature Rams with Jeremy Sims and the blockbuster Jurassic World: Dominion for Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment.

9. Hugo Weaving

STAR POWER RATING: 38.5/50

Box office 9/10

Talent + Versatility 10/10

Demand + Longevity 9.5/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 7/10

Technical investment 1/5

Hollywood buzz 2/5

It was Hugo Weaving’s role as an evil Keanu Reeves-stalking agent in 1999 Hollywood blockbuster trilogy The Matrix that launched his name in Hollywood Picture Kym Smith
It was Hugo Weaving’s role as an evil Keanu Reeves-stalking agent in 1999 Hollywood blockbuster trilogy The Matrix that launched his name in Hollywood Picture Kym Smith

Following his turn as the embittered blind protagonist in Jocelyn Moorhouse's stark low budget 1991 movie Proof, Weaving's career took a sudden about face with 1994's Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, in which he played drag queen Tick. It was his role as an evil Keanu Reeves-stalking agent in 1999 Hollywood blockbuster trilogy The Matrix, shot in Sydney, that launched his name in Hollywood and overlapped with the blockbuster trilogy The Lord of the Rings, which saw him take up the hadhafang of Elrond the elf ruler. A role in 2011's Captain America preceded another year long stint in Middle Earth with the release of The Hobbit and its sequel, The Battle of Five Armies, in 2012 and 2015. Smaller releases have included Cloud Atlas, Mystery Road, Strangerland, The Dressmaker, Hacksaw Ridge, Mortal Engines and three recent releases, Hearts and Bones, Measure for Measure and Lone Wolf. His latest, Loveland, is in pre-production.

10: Chris Hemsworth

STAR POWER RATING: 38/50

Box office 10/10

Talent + Versatility 6/10

Demand + Longevity 8/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 6/10

Technical investment 3/5

Hollywood buzz 5/5

Chris Hemsworth with wife and actress Elsa Pataky. Picture: Theo Wargo
Chris Hemsworth with wife and actress Elsa Pataky. Picture: Theo Wargo

Chris Hemsworth's name is synonymous with surfer dude sex appeal and fantasy action hero box office gold thanks to his decade-long association with the Marvel franchise and the role of Thor, which he first inhabited in 2011. Marvel Studios' films Thor, The Avengers, Thor The Dark World, Age of Ultron, Ragnarok, Infinity War and Endgame have given Hemsworth the opportunity to ply his comedic and bodycon super powers while grossing over $7 billion at the box office in US, Canada, China, UK and Australia alone. Roles in Snow White and The Huntsman and Ron Howard's In the Heart of the Sea further sealed his popularity as a muscular romantic lead. In 2014 he became only the third Australian (Mel Gibson and Hugh Jackson the other two) to be named People's Sexiest Man Alive. Hemsworth, 36, has recently joined the technical ranks as producer, which his Thematic Entertainment stumping up for the upcoming 2020 action feature film Extraction, plus other projects set to include a Hulk Hogan biopic. Has a new Marvel film, Thor: Love and Thunder, due out in 2022.

11. Russell Crowe

STAR POWER RATING: 38/50

Box office 8/10

Talent + Versatility 8/10

Demand + Longevity 8.5/10

Critical Acclaim + Awards 8/10

Future investment 3/5

Hollywood buzz 2.5/5

 

It was in director Jocelyn Moorhouse’s tender and twisted 1991 film Proof that audiences first glimpsed Russell Crowe’s dramatic range. Picture: Brendon Thorne
It was in director Jocelyn Moorhouse’s tender and twisted 1991 film Proof that audiences first glimpsed Russell Crowe’s dramatic range. Picture: Brendon Thorne

His stint as a sadistic skinhead in 1992's Romper Stomper drew the eye of Hollywood filmmaker Curtis Hanson, who steered Crowe to his 1997 breakout role in LA Confidential alongside countryman Guy Pearce and Kim Basinger. Yet it was in director Jocelyn Moorhouse's tender and twisted 1991 film Proof that audiences first glimpsed Russell Crowe's dramatic range. By the end of his first decade in the industry, Crowe reached the pinnacle of his career with 1999's The Insider, for which he received his first Academy Award nomination. With Gladiator in 2000 he won his Oscar. A Beautiful Mind in 2001 completed his Oscar nomination hat trick. His reputation for being an industry hothead may have influenced the next decade of his career, one dominated by action films including Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, 3:10 To Yuma, Body of Lies, Robin Hood, The Next Three Days, The Man with The Iron Fists and Man of Steel. There were some unexpected departures, notably in 2012's acclaimed Les Miserables, 2016's The Nice Guys and as director of 2014's The Water Diviner. As rubbered-up disgraced TV executive Roger Ailes in Showtime's TV miniseries The Loudest Voice last year, he collected his second Golden Globe. Will next appear in feature thrillers The Georgetown Project and Unhinged and is down to produce three new film projects.

12. Geoffrey Rush

STAR POWER RATING: 37/50

Box office 9/10

Talent + Versatility 8.5/10

Demand + Longevity 6/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 9/10

Technical investment 2/5

Hollywood buzz 2.5/5

Geoffrey Rush made his screen debut in 1981 and hasn’t looked back since.
Geoffrey Rush made his screen debut in 1981 and hasn’t looked back since.

A decade after first stepping onto a QTC stage to begin a successful career as a player, Rush made his silver screen debut in the 1981 film Hoodwink. Fifteen years and six movie roles later he'd take home a coveted Academy Award in Scott Hicks's Shine. And that's when Hollywood came calling. Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth, Lantana, Pirates of the Caribbean x three films, The Book Thief, The King's Speech, Holding the Man, Gods of Egypt and last year's Storm Boy followed, along with three more Oscar nominations, two Golden Globe wins and three BAFTA awards. Television was also on his radar and 2017's Genius, in which he played Albert Einstein, won rave reviews and two Prime time Emmys. The 68-year-old will be missing from the rumoured latest instalment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise after his character, Hector Barbossa, was killed off at the end of 2017's Dead Men Tell No Tales.

13. Ben Mendelsohn

STAR POWER RATING: 36.5/50

Box office 8.5/10

Talent + Versatility 8/10

Demand + Longevity 8.5/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 6.5/10

Technical investment 1/5

Hollywood buzz 4/5

Ben Mendelsohn has been in the industry for more than 30 years.
Ben Mendelsohn has been in the industry for more than 30 years.

Of his three decades' in the industry, Mendelsohn, who first found fame in the 1987 Australian coming of age film The Year My Voice Broke, last year gave credit to his native land: "One thing about Australia is you can be something of a complete mess there and be embraced and acceptable." With his years of personal struggle writ large on his face, Mendelsohn, 51, has become, since his career-reigniting turn in 2010's Animal Kingdom, Hollywood's king of villains. As the Galactic Empire's evil director Orson Krennic he was George Lucas's antagonist in 2016's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Then followed the part of bad guy Nolan Sorrento in Steven Spielberg's 2018 Ready Player One, the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood, green shapeshifter Skrull in Captain Marvel and Henry IV in Netflix's The King. There have also been solid and glowing roles in Darkest Hour and in the TV series Bloodline. Now he's moving back to the light as a "Gary Cooper-type", solid and dependable, in HBO's The Outsider and the feature Babyteeth.

14. Joel Edgerton

STAR POWER RATING: 36/50

Box office 8/10

Talent + Versatility 7/10

Demand + Longevity 7/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 6/10

Technical investment 5/5

Hollywood buzz 3/5

 

Joel Edgerton, 45, will next sink his teeth into crime thriller The Unknown Man in South Australia. Picture: Nikki Short
Joel Edgerton, 45, will next sink his teeth into crime thriller The Unknown Man in South Australia. Picture: Nikki Short

Like Rose Byrne, Edgerton's first taste of Hollywood came by way of George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones (2002) shot in Sydney at Fox Studios. The film, and its sequel, Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith (2005), failed to launch Edgerton into the Hollywood stratosphere but did lead to a main role in offbeat British indie film Kinky Boots and brought him to the attention of US filmmakers, who cast him as gritty tough guys in Smokin' Aces (2007), Zero Dark Thirty (2012) and Red Sparrow (2018). The actor was a standout as conflicted thug Tom Buchanan in Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby (2013) yet from his early days wanted to be a filmmaker and never stopped writing, directing and producing shorts and features with his Blue-Tongue Films, finally taking home a Director's Guild of America Award for 2015's mystery/thriller The Gift. Jane Got A Gun, Boy Erased and The King have shown he can attract big stars to his projects. With eight projects in pre-prod (states IMDB), Edgerton, 45, will next sink his teeth into crime thriller The Unknown Man in South Australia following a run on Amazon TV in the series The Underground Railroad and has the rights to the novel Boy Swallows Universe.

15. Guy Pearce

STAR POWER RATING: 35.5/50

Box office 8/10

Talent + Versatility 8/10

Demand + Longevity 9/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 6/10

Technical investment 2/5

Hollywood buzz 2.5/5

Guy Pearce has two new film releases this year, and will also wear his director’s hat for the first time.
Guy Pearce has two new film releases this year, and will also wear his director’s hat for the first time.

After finding his feet in Australian TV soaps, Pearce came of age as flamboyant drag queen Adam/Felicia in 1994's Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Three years later it would lead to his Hollywood breakthrough alongside Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey in 1997's L.A. Confidential. While there was steady demand over the next two decades, it was in Christopher Nolan's two-time Oscar-nominated 2000 sleeper Memento that Pearce demonstrated he was film star material. Demand for his introspected manner and fine features has kept the offers pouring in: The Count of Monte Christo, The Time Machine, Two Brothers, The Hurt Locker, Animal Kingdom, The King's Speech, Prometheus, Lawless, Iron Man 3, Holding the Man, Alien: Covenant, Mary Queen of Scots and this year's Bloodshot to name a few. HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce pitched him onscreen with Kate Winslet and preceded long-running ABC series Jack Irish. After starring as Scrooge in the BBC's miniseries A Christmas Carol last year, Pearce can look forward to two new film releases this year and four more projects are planned, one of which will see him wear the director's hat for the first time.

16. Sam Worthington

STAR POWER RATING: 33.5/50

Box office 8/10

Talent + Versatility 6/10

Demand + Longevity 8.5/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 6/10

Technical investment 2/5

Hollywood buzz 3/5

Sam Worthington wife and former model Lara Bingle. Picture: Neilson Barnard
Sam Worthington wife and former model Lara Bingle. Picture: Neilson Barnard

With six films in production - including Avatars 2, 3, 4 and 5 - Worthington, 43, has never been in greater demand than he is now and will be on screen as Avatar's Jake Scully until at least 2027. Worthington has one man to thank for his Hollywood career, Avatar and Terminator director James Cameron, who, having cast Worthington in 2009's mega hit Avatar, recommended him to director McG (Joseph McGinty Nichol) for the role of cyborg Marcus Wright in the weakest of the Terminator sequels, 2009's Terminator Salvation. Cameron liked Worthington's on-screen toughness, a characteristic reminiscent of old American western stars. Action and thriller film directors clearly agree, with Worthington set to star alongside Harvey Keitel in upcoming gangster film Lansky, alongside Russell Crowe in Miramax's supernatural thriller The Georgetown Project and as a cursed gunslinger in the upcoming western The Last Son of Isaac Lemay.

17. Naomi Watts

STAR POWER RATING: 33.5/50

Box office 7/10

Talent + Versatility 7.5/10

Demand + Longevity 7.5/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 7.5/10

Technical investment 2/5

Hollywood buzz 2/5

Naomi Watts is currently midway through shooting sci-fi thriller Boss Level with Mel Gibson. Picture: Tim Hunter.
Naomi Watts is currently midway through shooting sci-fi thriller Boss Level with Mel Gibson. Picture: Tim Hunter.

A decade after John Duigan's Flirting put her on the map in Australia in 1991, legendary American director David Lynch cast Watts in his 2001 feature Mulholland Drive successfully launching her career abroad. She backed up with steady work including in 2002's The Ring, 2003's 21 Grams, for which she received her first Oscar nomination, Ned Kelly, I Heart Huckabees, blockbuster King Kong, The Painted Veil, J Edgar, 2012's The Impossible, which brought her second Oscar nomination, Diana, Birdman, Insurgent and Vice as well as some 60+ other roles. Yet it's in television roles that Watts is creating most waves, first in the 2017 Twin Peaks reboot and then last year playing sexually harassed TV presented Gretchen Carlson alongside Russell Crowe in the polarising Showtime miniseries The Loudest Voice. Watts, 51, will next be seen in local film Penguin Bloom and in drama Once Upon A Time in Staten Island, both of which she produces. She is currently midway through shooting sci-fi thriller Boss Level with Mel Gibson.

18. Eric Bana

STAR POWER RATING: 33/50

Box office 8/10

Talent + Versatility 8/10

Demand + Longevity 7/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 4.5/10

Technical investment 3/5

Hollywood buzz 2.5/5

Eric Bana started his career as a stand-up comedian before turning to acting. Picture: Britta Campion
Eric Bana started his career as a stand-up comedian before turning to acting. Picture: Britta Campion

After starting out as a stand-up comedian and landing his own TV comedy show, The Erica Bana Live Show, Bana made his film debut in The Castle in 2000, starring that same year as Australian underworld figure Mark "Chopper" Read in the cult hit, Chopper. The role received international recognition and in 2001 Ridley Scott came calling for Black Hawk Down. In 2003 he starred as Hulk, in 2003 was cast opposite Brad Pitt in Troy and in 2004 played the hero in Steven Spielberg's historical thriller, Munich. A rare turn as an alien villain arrived when director JJ Abrams cast him as Nero in 2009's Star Trek, after which he featured in a mixed bag of film roles including The Time Traveller's Wife, Lone Survivor and 2017's The Forgiven. His popularity surged in 2018-19 thanks to his appearance as the title character in Netflix's Golden Globe-nominated TV series Dirty John. Bana will next appear in crime thriller The Dry, based on Jane Harper's book. His production company Pick Up Truck is in pre-production on biographical film The Bike.

19. Rebel Wilson

STAR POWER RATING: 32.5/50

Box office 8/10

Talent + Versatility 5.5/10

Demand + Longevity 5.5/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 6/10

Technical investment 3.5/5

Hollywood buzz 4/5

 

A support role on SBS TV cult comedies Pizza and 2008's Bogan Pride led to Wilson auditioning, post an appearance on CBS sitcom Rules of Engagement, for Judd Apatow's comedy hit 2011 Bridesmaids. Wilson so impressing Kristen Wiig with her audition the film's makers created a small support role for her. The following year she was cast in comedy Bachelorette. That same year she won a role in Pitch Perfect, leading to appearances in sequels in 2015 and 2017. Roles in How To Be Single, Grimsby, Isn't It Romantic and The Hustle - the latter two both co-produced by Wilson's company Camp Sugar - have helped her secure her position in the comedy universe. A role in Tom Hooper's 2019 musical Cats proved no less amusing. She has four projects in pre-production, three as producer. The 40-year-old's next star vehicle will be as the title character in the remake of Goldie Hawn film Private Benjamin.

20. Liam Hemsworth

STAR POWER RATING: 32.5/50

Box office 8.5/10

Talent + Versatility 6.5/10

Demand + Longevity 6.5/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 6/10

Technical investment 1/5

Hollywood buzz 4/5

Liam Hemsworth in the latest campaign for OPSM eyewear. Picture: Hugh Stewart
Liam Hemsworth in the latest campaign for OPSM eyewear. Picture: Hugh Stewart

After losing the lead role of Thor to his older brother Chris, Liam Hemsworth was hand-picked to play Miley Cyrus's love interest in her first grown-up film role, in 2010's Nicholas Sparks drama The Last Song. Next came the film that would make him a bona fide Hollywood star, as Gale Hawthorne in the big-screen adaptation of the best-selling novel The Hunger Games, a box office sensation. A supporting role in The Expendables 2 preceded leading roles in war drama Love and Honour, drama Empire State and thriller Paranoia. He reprised the role of Hawthorne for two more Hunger Games films in 2014 and 2015, delighted back home in Australia in The Dressmaker in 2015 and of late has found there is steady work in the action (Independence Day: Resurgence) and crime (Killerman) genres. Next the 30-year-old appears in action/thriller Most Dangerous Game for an interactive mobile TV series for Quibi.

21. Noah Taylor

STAR POWER RATING: 32/50

Box office 7/10

Talent + Versatility 7.5/10

Demand + Longevity 8/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 6/10

Technical investment 1/5

Hollywood buzz 2.5/5

Noah Taylor. in the SBS drama series Deep Water. Picture: Sean O'Reill
Noah Taylor. in the SBS drama series Deep Water. Picture: Sean O'Reill

Taylor, 50, was introduced to Australian filmgoers in his feature debut, 1986's Dogs in Space. A year later he landed his second movie role, in John Duigan's Australian classic, The Year My Voice Broke. A decade later he gave a captivating performance as a young David Helfgott in 1996's Oscar-winning biography, Shine. He was then off to Hollywood to star in Cameron Crowe's hit film Famous in 2000. The following year Crowe cast him again in Vanilla Sky with Tom Cruise. Roles in Lara Croft Tomb Raider, Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Red Dog, Lawless, Edge of Tomorrow and 2018's Skyscraper followed. Television, too, has lapped up Taylor's quirky character. He lopped off a Lannister limb in Game of Thrones in 2013 and since 2014 has starred in half a dozen other TV shows including Amazon's Hanna, before inhabiting the moustache of Hitler from 2017 to 2019 in Preacher.

22. Isla Fisher

STAR POWER RATING: 31.5/50

Box office 7/10

Talent + Versatility 6/10

Demand + Longevity 7/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 6/10

Technical investment 2/5

Hollywood buzz 3.5/5

 

Regarded as one of Australia's greatest female comedy exports, Isla Fisher first came to the attention of Hollywood with a small part as a blonde alongside Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddy Prinze Jr in 2002's Scooby Doo. She landed her breakthrough role three years later in 2005's Wedding Crashers as a sexual aggressor and has made her name playing loveable scatterbrains in features such as Confession of a Shopaholic, Definitely Maybe and Bachelorette. Baz Luhrmann's 2013 film The Great Gatsby cast her in a welcome and different light as the doomed Myrtle. That same year she won over a new audience in the television comedy Arrested Development. The 44-year-old, who will play producer on a handful of upcoming projects, returns to television as exec producer and star of comedy series Guilty Party and will star in Disney's new live action feature Godmothered.

23. Sarah Snook

STAR POWER RATING: 31/50

Box office 2.5/10

Talent + Versatility 9/10

Demand + Longevity 8/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 6.5/10

Technical investment 1/5

Hollywood buzz 4/5

Snook’s breakout Hollywood moment came when she joined the cast of HBO TV series Succession. Picture: Phillip Faraone
Snook’s breakout Hollywood moment came when she joined the cast of HBO TV series Succession. Picture: Phillip Faraone

Snook's breakout Hollywood moment came not on the silver screen, but in 2018 when the actress joined the cast of HBO TV series Succession, the series HBO scheduled to fill the gap left by the phenomenal Game of Thrones. Snook soon became a fan favourite as heiress Shiv Roy on the show, her on-screen command and composure giving her a quiet edge. Prior to this, Snook captivated Australian audiences with her performance in Jocelyn Moorhouse's movie The Dressmaker. Its release came on the heels of her turn in Danny Boyle's Steve Jobs, on the family film Oddball and in Neil Armfield's Holding the Man - all four films coming out in the same year. Suddenly she was everywhere. She was equally commanding alongside Helen Mirren in 2018's thriller-fantasy Winchester. Her romp with Seth Rogen in the upcoming An American Pickle will screen on HBO Max next month after the pandemic shuttered its theatre release, following which she has two more projects in the works, one untitled for TV and the movie Pieces of a Woman, starring Ellen Burstyn and Shia LaBeouf.

24. Jacki Weaver

STAR POWER RATING: 30.5/50

Box office 2/10

Talent + Versatility 8/10

Demand + Longevity 10/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 7.5/10

Technical investment 1/5

Hollywood buzz 2/5

Jackie Weaver was 63 when she received her first Academy Award nomination. Picture: Greg Doherty
Jackie Weaver was 63 when she received her first Academy Award nomination. Picture: Greg Doherty

At an age many associate with retirement, Jackie Weaver took a deep breath and jumped right into the middle of the Hollywood film career that had evaded her for almost 50 years. She was 63 when she received her first Academy Award nomination, for 2010's Animal Kingdom. Two years later, she received a second for Silver Linings Playbook. That it came so long after she started making movies, in 1966, hardly mattered at all to Weaver, now 72. In arriving at all she had the validation she needed for a great career featuring showstopping performances in Stork (1971), Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975), Caddie (1976), Squizzy Taylor (1982), Cosi (1996), Last Cab To Darwin (2015), The Disaster Artist (2017) and Life of the Party (2018), to name a few. Recently she appeared in Stage Mother with Lucy Liu. Her next role is in Penguin Bloom.

25: Mia Wasikowska

STAR POWER RATING: 30/50

Box office 7.5/10

Talent + Versatility 7/10

Demand + Longevity 6/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 5/10

Technical investment 2/5

Hollywood buzz 2.5/5

 

At 15, Wasikowska landed the role of Lilya in the Australian comedy/drama Suburban Mayhem. Two years, and a handful of short films and features later, she received her Hollywood break at 17 playing a suicidal gymnast in HBO's In Treatment. In 2010 she was offered every young actress's dream role, Alice, in Tim Burton's blockbuster Alice in Wonderland. The film would become one of the highest grossing films of the year and take over a billion dollars at the box office. The following year she scored another title role in Jane Ayre. After plying her trade in another 14 films, Tim Burton would recall her in 2016 to star as Alice Kingsleigh again in Alice Through the Looking Glass. Next the 30-year-old - who harbours dreams of directing and who once directed a short about a character created by Tim Winton - will star alongside Tom Holland and Eliza Scanlen in The Devil All the Time and also in the drama Bergman Island.

26. Elizabeth Debicki

STAR POWER RATING: 29.5/50

Box office 7/10

Talent + Versatility 6.5/10

Demand + Longevity 6/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 5/10

Technical investment 1/5

Hollywood buzz 4/5

Elizabeth Debicki has landed a steady number of roles since appearing in comedy A Few Best Men in 2011. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Elizabeth Debicki has landed a steady number of roles since appearing in comedy A Few Best Men in 2011. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

Director Baz Luhrmann spotted Debicki in Stephan Elliott's 2011 comedy A Few Best Men and cast her as the haughty Jordan Baker in his fantastic 2013 romance/drama The Great Gatsby. Guy Ritchie then tapped her to play his beautiful villain in 2015's The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Support roles in Everest and Macbeth paved the way to her joining the Marvel Universe as the ethereal Ayesha, leader of the Sovereign people, in 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol II. She will return for its sequel next year. While filmmakers have been obsessed with her tall, blonde, highbrow beauty, in was on TV - in The Night Manager and The Kettering Incident - that she's matured as an actor, particularly in BBC's The Night Manager where she worked with a world class ensemble including Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie and Olivia Colman. Her work in 2018's film Widows, opposite Viola Davis, was well received. Debicki, 29, will next appear in Christopher Nolan's action film Tenet alongside Robert Pattinson and Michael Caine and has two more films in pre-production.

27. Yvonne Strahovski

STAR POWER RATING: 26/50

Box office 3/10

Talent + Versatility 7/10

Demand + Longevity 7/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 5/10

Technical investment 1/5

Hollywood buzz 4/5

 

After a decade working in Hollyowod, Yvonne Strahovski landed a key role in hit The Handmaid’s Tale. Picture: Emma McIntyre
After a decade working in Hollyowod, Yvonne Strahovski landed a key role in hit The Handmaid’s Tale. Picture: Emma McIntyre

Strahovski's role in cult TV series The Handmaid's Tale, playing the villainess Serena Joy Waterford, wife to the Commander of Gilead (Joseph Fiennes), followed a decade of work in Hollywood, initially as a CIA agent in NBC's sci-fi comedy Chuck from 2007 (the role that prompted her to quit TV in Australia for the US) and then, from 2012, as a serial killer on Showtime crime hit Dexter. In 2015 she landed the role of Rene Carpenter in the ABC TV series The Astronaut Wives Club, before the producers of Hulu's Handmaid's Tale tapped her for the role that made her a household name and has brought Emmy nominations. Along the way she has tackled comedy, in 2012's feature The Guilt Trip opposite Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen, action in 2014's I, Frankenstein and 2018's The Predator and appeared alongside Noomia Rapace in last year's thriller Angel of Mine. Next the 37-year-old will shoot sci-fi action film The Tomorrow War alongside Chris Pratt.

 

28: Jason Clarke

 

 

STAR POWER RATING: 25.5/50

 

Box office 7/10

Talent + Versatility 6/10

Demand + Longevity 5.5/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 4/10

Technical investment 1/5

Hollywood buzz 2/5

 

Jason Clarke was first cast as a detective in Australian classic Rabbit-Proof Fence. Picture: Franco Origlia
Jason Clarke was first cast as a detective in Australian classic Rabbit-Proof Fence. Picture: Franco Origlia

Late to acting, Clarke, 50, was cast as a detective in an Australian TV series when he was picked to play alongside Nicole Kidman, in 2002's Rabbit-Proof Fence. A four-episode guest role the Sci-Fi Channel's Farscape from 2003 led to a role in acclaimed Showtime series Brotherhood. Action and crime films carried him through the noughties and in 2010 he was rewarded with a role in Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Then came Zero Dark Thirty, The Great Gatsby, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Terminator Genisys, Chappaquiddick, Winchesters, First Man and, last year, the remake of Stephen King's Pet Semetary and the yet to be seen Silk Road. Upcoming is The Devil All the Time in which he stars with Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson.

29: Eliza Scanlan

STAR POWER RATING: 25/50

Box office 2/10

Talent + Versatility 7/10

Demand + Longevity 5/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 6/10

Technical investment 1/5

Hollywood buzz 4/5

 

The meteoric career of the talented Miss Scanlen began just five years ago when the then 15-year-old was cast in a handful of episodes of Australian soap Home And Away. Two years later, at 17, she was screen tested for the part of Amy Adams' little sister in HBO's Golden Globe-winning short series Sharp Objects and the rest, as they say, is history. Scanlen's performance both mesmerised and terrorised audiences when the series was released mid-2018. That same year she won the role of Beth March in Greta Gerwig's gorgeous remake of Little Women, sharing screen time with the best young actresses on the screen today, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson and Florence Pugh. Next came her role in the feature Babyteeth alongside Ben Mendelsohn. Her next role pits the 20-year-old on the screen with Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson in Netflix thriller The Devil All the Time.

30. Angourie Rice

STAR POWER RATING: 25/50

Box office 7/10

Talent + Versatility 6.5/10

Demand + Longevity 3/10

Critical acclaim + Awards 5/10

Technical investment 1/5

Hollywood buzz 2.5/5

Actress Angourie Rice has her first lead role when aged just 11. Picture: Nicki Connolly
Actress Angourie Rice has her first lead role when aged just 11. Picture: Nicki Connolly

At age 11, Rice first came to industry attention with her lead role in 2012's short film Transmission. Her reputation as a child actor grew with small roles in 2013's Walking with Dinosaurs and These Final Hours. Her break came in 2016 in Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling's The Nice Guys, leading to a role in Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled. In 2017 she landed a support role in the Marvel Universe as one of Peter Parker's classmates in Spider-Man: Homecoming. She returned in 2019's Spider-Man: Far from Home. Her most critically acclaimed roles to date came in 2017's Jasper Jones and 2018's Every Day, before she landed the lead in Bruce Beresford's nostalgic 2018 period piece, Ladies in Black. Rice, 19, next stars alongside Kate Winslet in HBO's short detective series Mare of Easttown.

 

Check out the Star Power Most Influential Aussies in Hollywood movie playlist on Foxtel. All your favourite Aussies in their greatest movies plus Cate Blanchett in Mrs America.

 

 

Originally published as Why Aussie women are the most powerful in Hollywood



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