David Wenham

Hometown: Sydney

Where you might have seen him: As a pyromaniac in Miramax’s “Cosi”

Upcoming roles: “The Lord of the Rings,” “Moulin Rouge”

What others say about him: “He’s made an interesting choice as an actor by being strategic about the roles he wants to play,” says producer-director Robert Connolly (“The Boys”). “He’s offered a lot of work and only does a fraction of it.”

SYDNEY – His strikingly individual looks may not have yet sent Middle America swooning, but 35-year-old theater actor David Wenham is on his way, having become a household name Down Under as Diver Dan, the absentminded love interest of Sigrid Thornton in pubcaster ABC’s hit Granada drama “SeaChange.”

Audiences Stateside will likely first see Wenham in his Australian Film Institute Award-nominated role in Jonathan Teplitzky’s adult comedy “Better Than Sex,” which became one of the increasingly rare breed of Aussie films to score a substantial U.S. sale after it was picked up at the Cannes Intl. Film Festival by Goldwyn.

After that will come the release of Baz Luhrmann’s much anticipated Fox period piece “Moulin Rouge” and then New Line’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which is filming in New Zealand with Wenham in the major role of human lord Faramir. Also on Wenham’s international slate is Milcho Nanchesvsky’s “Dust,” which filmed in New York and Macedonia.

After being encouraged by teachers to act as a constructive outlet for disruptive youthful energies, Wenham earned a theater degree before working his way onto soaps and, eventually, getting work with some of Australia’s leading theatrical companies.

These troupes included Neil Armfield’s Belvoir Street Theater, whose alumni include Geoffrey Rush and Cate Blanchett. Indeed, working on Belvoir’s production of “Cosi” in 1992 led to a role in Miramax’s 1995 production of the play with helmer Mark Joffe, while Wenham also had a leading role in Peter Duncan’s 1997 Columbia TriStar film “A Little Bit of Soul,” opposite Rush and Frances O’Connor.

“The stage is important to me,” Wenham says, having last year returned to Sydney boards for Matthew Warchaus’ production of “Art.” “It helps an actor’s work on film as well. Like anything, it’s good to have a balanced diet.”

His critical bigscreen breakthrough also had its origins on the stage with Rowan Woods’ unrelentingly gritty 1997 film “The Boys,” in which Wenham played a psychotically violent jailbird, reprising a role he first played in the Griffin Theater Co.’s 1991 production.

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