You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Aussie soaps a proving ground for thesps

Rigors help produce alums including Crowe, Pearce, Kwanten

Before Chris Hemsworth wielded his hammer as fallen Norse god Thor, he was the unassuming school principal’s son on Aussie sudser “Home and Away.” But he’s not the first resident of the skein’s sunny fictional town of Summer Bay — really on Sydney’s northern beaches — to head to Hollywood, where the soap is garnering a rep as a talent incubator.

Other thesps to spend time in this sleepy beachside locale include Ryan Kwanten (“True Blood”), Isabel Lucas (“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,”) and Melissa George (“The Amityville Horror,” “Triangle”). On TV, there’s Alex O’Loughlin (Steve McGarrett in “Hawaii Five-0”), Nick Bishop in “Body of Proof” and Pippa Black in laffer “Outsourced.”

In fact, Oz soaps have proven to be fertile ground for young actors, with Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe having spent time on Ramsay Street as part of the cast of the venerable “Neighbours.”

“Home and Away” producer and one-time thesp Cameron Welsh says his skein regularly handles inquiries from Stateside agents about cast members, and attributes the show’s star-making nature to the simple fact that the skein has to film five episodes per week.

“A lot of actors come into a show like ‘Home and Away’ with little experience, and by the time they leave, they know their way around a set,” Welsh says.

“Home and Away” shoots 46 weeks a year, the work load is great, and the pace fast. Thesps can wind up working a six-day week, with two units operating at any given time — and when a character is front and center of a story arc, the actor is up before dawn and doing pickups at the studio until evening.

Neighbours” exec producer Susan Bower credits not only the grueling schedule of serial dramas but also the dedication they have to training and growing stars like Margot Robbie, soon to be seen on the Alphabet’s retro skein “Pan Am,” and Caitlin Stasey (“Tomorrow, When the War Began”), joining names like Pearce, Crowe and Alan Dale.

“We have drama coaches that help all our cast, first of all to break down scripts so they know emotionally and storywise where they are,” she says. “They have to do all the craft of where they should be and which camera is on them.”

Bowers says being known as star-makers also has helped Aussie soaps draw talent.

“Gone are the days when actors join serial drama as a career,” she says, but she benefits from the fact that bit part players, once known for their lack of skill, are arriving keen to use these shows as a launch pad.

And having survived the gruelling pace, Oz’s soap actors can tend to feel bulletproof.

“It’s a lot about the confidence,” Welsh says. “If you can do a show like ‘Home and Away’ successfully as an actor, you can do anything.”

Popular on Variety

More News

  • Kanye West

    Kanye West to Preview ‘Jesus Is King’ Album and Film in Los Angeles on Wednesday

    On the heels of Monday’s announcement that Kanye West’s delayed “Jesus Is King” album will be released on Friday along with a companion IMAX film, the rapper will preview both projects at the Forum in Los Angeles on Wednesday, it was announced this morning. Tickets for the “Jesus Is King Album & Film Experience” will be [...]

  • Money-Logo

    Meredith Sells Money Personal-Finance Site to Digital Advertising Firm

    After previously failing to find a buyer for Money — and shutting down the print edition — Meredith has found a new home for the personal-finance brand. Meredith announced Tuesday that it closed the sale of the Money brand to Ad Practitioners, a Puerto Rico-based digital advertising and media company that operates a network of [...]

  • Former 'Project Runway' Casting Professionals Launch

    Former 'Project Runway' Casting Professionals Launch Vital Casting

    Three former “Project Runway” casting professionals have launched Vital Casting, a woman-led casting company whose mission is to help production companies, networks, studios, and streamers cast unscripted content with a focus on inclusion, equity and diversity in representation. Founders Alissa Haight Carlton, Jen DeMartino, and Rebecca Snavely met as freelance casting directors while they were [...]

  • Front row: CBS THIS MORNING co-hosts

    'CBS This Morning' Brings Audience on Set in A.M. Experiment

    Stay out of Gayle King’s way on Wednesday morning. As the clock approaches 8 a.m. tomorrow,  King and her “CBS This Morning” co-hosts, Anthony Mason and Tony Doukopil, will have to whisk themselves from their home studio to another one at the multi-tiered New York broadcast facility that hosts their program. They will have to [...]

  • Juice WRLD Sued by Yellowcard for

    Juice WRLD Sued by Yellowcard for $15 Million Over ‘Lucid Dreams’

    Juice WRLD has been sued by the pop-punk band Yellowcard for $15 million, who claim that the rapper’s 2017 song “Lucid Dreams” copies melodic elements of their song “Holly Wood Died,” according to a report in The Blast, citing court documents. The band, which split in 2017, are seeking $15 million, royalties and credit for co-ownership of [...]

  • Isabelle HuppertIsabelle Huppert Life Achievement Award,

    The Arcs Festival Taps Isabelle Huppert to Head The Talent Village For Young Helmers

    Guillaume Nicloux, the French director of “Valley of Love,” is set to preside over the jury of the Arcs Film Festival, while the iconic French actress Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”) will be the patron of the second edition of the Talent Village. Created last year, the Talent Village is a development workshop and platform for emerging [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content