The land down under has long had a strong hold on Hollywood, producing some of our most beloved stars, including Margot Robbie, Russell Crowe and all three Hemsworth brothers.
But Australia also has its own thriving film and television market — especially when it comes to soap operas — and no show does it better than “Neighbours,” the long-running drama set around a single cul-de-sac and its inhabitants. It focuses on three families: the Ramsays, the Robinsons and the Clarkes, and follows their rivalries and family drama throughout generations. The series premiered in 1985 and is still running today, with a whopping 37 seasons under its belt. However, its future is currently in question as it was announced on Monday that the show had been dropped by U.K. broadcaster Channel 5.
Given its prominence in Australian television history, it’s no surprise that many actors got their start on the soap opera before breaking out internationally — whether they appeared on the show for one episode or a few seasons. Below, find 15 of the series’ most successful exports.
Furness starred as Linda Fielding in five “Neighbours” episodes in 1985, during its inaugural season. Then, 35 years later, the actor returned to the soap to direct three episodes in 2020. Married to fellow Aussie Hugh Jackman, Furness is best known for “Legend of the Guardians,” “Shame,” “Jindabyne” and “Waiting.”
“Bloodline” and Marvel star Ben Mendelsohn got his start as Warren Murphy on “Neighbours” from 1986 to 1987. Warren befriends Charlene Mitchell (Kylie Minogue) and Scott Robinson (Jason Donovan) and soon develops a drinking problem, which leads to him breaking up their relationship by kissing Charlene.
After appearing in “Neighbours,” Mendelsohn had his breakout role in the 1987 film “The Year My Voice Broke.” He is also well known for starring in the films “Animal Kingdom” (2010) as Pope Cody and “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012) as John Daggett. He portrayed Danny Rayburn in “Bloodline” from 2015 to 2017, for which he won an Emmy and was nominated for a Golden Globe. Lately, Mendelsohn has been making his mark on some major franchises, including “Star Wars” — he played villain Director Krennic in “Rogue One” — and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in which he plays Talos in “Captain Marvel” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” He is set to reprise the role in Disney Plus’ upcoming series “Secret Invasion.” He also starred as Ralph Anderson in HBO’s “The Outsider” in 2020 and played De Guiche in the critically acclaimed film “Cyrano” in 2021.
Before becoming the highest-selling female Australian singer, Kylie Minogue starred as Charlene Mitchell on “Neighbours” from 1986 to 1988. Charlene, a schoolgirl turned garage mechanic, got married to Jason Donovan’s Scott Robinson on a 1987 episode, drawing nearly 20 million viewers. After starring on the soap, Minogue launched a solo music career, going on to win a Grammy and sell 80 million records worldwide.
Born in the United Kingdom, Pearce and his family moved to Australia when he was 3 years old. When he was 18, he began starring on “Neighbours” as Mike Young from 1986 to 1989. Since getting his start on the soap, Pearce has appeared in blockbusters such as “The Hurt Locker,” “Iron Man 3” and “The Time Machine,” as well as in “L.A. Confidential” and Christopher Nolan’s “Memento.”
Born nearby in New Zealand, Crowe spent much of his childhood in Australia. The actor appeared in four 1987 episodes of “Neighbours” as Kenny Larkin, the former cellmate of Henry Ramsay (Craig McLachlan). Crowe would later ascend to blockbuster movie roles such as Maximus in “Gladiator,” Javert in “Les Misérables,” Robin Longstride in “Robin Hood” and John Nash in “A Beautiful Mind.”
Best known for her chart-topping cover of Ednaswap’s “Torn,” Natalie Imbruglia starred as Beth Brennan on “Neighbours” from 1992 to 1994. Beth worked as a builder’s apprentice in the construction industry but often let others take advantage of her kind personality. She was engaged to Brad Willis (Scott Michaelson), but broke the relationship off on their wedding day when she discovered he was having an affair.
After “Neighbours,” Imbruglia transitioned to her music career, releasing “Torn” in 1997. The song was No. 1 on the Billboard Airplay chart for 14 weeks and led to the success of her debut album, “Left of the Middle.” Imbruglia went on to release five more albums over the next 20 years, garnering eight ARIA awards, two Brit awards, a Billboard Music award and three Grammy nominations.
Bartlett starred in a handful of “Neighbours” episodes in 1993 as con man Luke Foster. In 2000, he moved to the United States and landed guest roles in shows including “Sex and the City” and “All Saints.” His profile increased when he starred in Eldar Rapaport’s film “August” and on HBO’s “Looking.” The Aussie actor reached new heights as recovering addict and stressed out hotel manager Armond in Season 1 of “The White Lotus.”
Stapleton appeared in a string of 1998 episodes as Josh Hughes. The Aussie actor went on to star in various TV series and films, but it was the 2010 Australian crime drama “Animal Kingdom” that made him internationally known. Stapleton’s other big credits include “300: Rise of an Empire,” “Gangster Squad” and “Darkness Falls.”
The eldest Hemsworth brother played Nathan Tyson from 2001 to 2002. Nathan, a football player, finds himself in hot water after he is caught using steroids to enhance his performance on the field. Hemsworth later returned to the show in 2008 to play John Carter, a car salesman whose family used to foster Riley Parker (Sweeney Young).
Since 2016, Hemsworth has starred as Ashley Stubbs on HBO’s hit series “Westworld” and has also made cameos in two of his brother Chris’ “Thor” films. He also appeared in two episodes of “Young Rock” in 2021.
Hemsworth only appeared in one episode of “Neighbours” 20 years ago, in which he worked with Carla Bonner’s Steph Scully in a garage. Soon after, the actor landed a part on rival Australian soap “Home and Away,” in which he starred as Kim Hyde in nearly 200 episodes from 2004 to 2007. Just nine years after his debut on “Neighbours” in 2002, Hemsworth began donning a blonde wig and the iconic hammer, Mjolnir, as Marvel’s Thor. Since then, he’s starred as the Asgardian Prince in eight feature films, with “Thor: Love and Thunder” due later this year.
Emmy-nominated actor Michelle Ang rose to prominence as Lori Lee on “Neighbours,” appearing in 88 episodes from 2002 to 2004. Lori becomes friends with Connor O’Neill (Patrick Harvey), and the two have a one-night stand, which results in Lori’s pregnancy. Although Connor does not want to be part of the child’s life, Lori decides to keep the baby and gives birth to a daughter, Madeleine (Madison Lu).
After her stint on “Neighbours,” Ang starred as Alex in web series “Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462,” for which she received an Emmy nomination, and later joined the cast of “Fear the Walking Dead.” Ang most recently played Omega, a clone, in Disney Plus’ “Star Wars: The Bad Batch.” She has also guest starred roles on “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Drop Dead Diva,” “Rizzoli & Isles” and “The Twilight Zone.”
Before she played Mary, Queen of Scots in the CW’s “Reign,” Adelaide Kane appeared in 46 episodes of “Neighbours” as Lolly Allen in 2007. Lolly starts out as a troubled teen who often lies and steals, but it is soon revealed that she is being abused by her stepmother, who is eventually kicked out of the house.
After Kane’s work in “Neighbours,” she appeared in “Power Rangers RPM” and “Teen Wolf” as Cora Hale, and then landed the starring role in “Reign” from 2013 to 2017. Kane has also held roles in “The Purge,” “Once Upon a Time,” “SEAL Team” and “This Is Us.”
Liam Hemsworth appeared in 24 episodes of “Neighbours” as Josh Taylor in 2007 and 2008 before breaking out as an international heartthrob. Hemsworth’s character was an athletic paraplegic who dated Bridget Parker (Eloise Mignon) after a car crash left her paralyzed.
In 2010, Hemsworth starred in the Nicholas Sparks drama “The Last Song” opposite Miley Cyrus, who he would later marry (and divorce). But Hemsworth really broke through playing Gale Hawthorne in “The Hunger Games” in 2012, as well as reprising the role in “Catching Fire” and both “Mocking Jay” installments over the next three years. In 2016, he starred in Roland Emmerich’s “Independence Day: Resurgence” and most recently appeared in the Quibi series “Most Dangerous Game” in 2020.
The Oscar-nominated actor known for playing Harley Quinn in “Suicide Squad” and “Birds of Prey,” as well as her starring roles in “I, Tonya,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” appeared in over 300 episodes of “Neighbours” as heartthrob Donna Freedman. Robbie was originally brought on as a guest star but was promoted to a regular cast member shortly after her 2008 debut. Throughout her four-year stint, Robbie’s character got married, had an affair and shared a same-sex kiss with Sunny Lee (Hany Lee).
John Harlan Kim
One of the newer talents on this list, John Harlan Kim appeared in 14 episodes of “Neighbours” as class clown Dale McGregor from 2009 to 2011. After his stint on the series, Kim starred as Ezekiel Jones on “The Librarians” from 2014 to 2018. He has also appeared on “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Hawaii Five-0,” “9-1-1,” “The Little Things” and “Nancy Drew.” Next, he’s set to star as up-and-coming attorney Chad Park in the “L.A. Law” sequel series pilot at ABC.