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From soap star to superstar! Thor: Ragnarok’s Chris Hemsworth and other Aussies who hit it big


There are many reasons to get excited about the release of Thor: Ragnarok later this month. For one thing it’s directed by Taika Waititi who brought us one of the funniest comedies of recent years with What We Do in the Shadows.

Fans will no doubt also be foaming at the mouth of the possibility of a Thor versus Hulk showdown as strongly hinted in the internet-breaking trailer. But we all know by now that the real star of the franchise is Aussie superstar Chris Hemsworth himself who, through the Thor movies, has become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after leading men.

Not only does Hemsworth have the physique, he also has fantastic comic timing as seen time and time again in his portrayal of Thor. Plus, in this movie he appears alongside fellow Antipodean Cate Blanchett as the villainous Hela.

While few could have predicted Hemsworth’s meteoric rise from Neighbours newbie (see below) to Hollywood A-lister, a closer look reveals that he's actually the latest in a long list of former Aussie soap stars who hit the big time…

Mel Gibson

Before Gibson was an Academy Award winning director and starred as such iconic characters as Martin Riggs and Mad Max, he could be seen on an Australian daytime soap called The Sullivans.

The show centred around a family living in Australia both before and during World War II and Gibson played an Australian Navy Lieutenant named Ray Henderson.

Although he was only in the show for a few episodes, three years later Mad Max was released and in the process launched Gibson’s Hollywood career. He'll next be seen as Mark Wahlberg's macho on-screen dad in comedy sequel Daddy's Home 2.

Margot Robbie

This Aussie A-lister's career has gone from strength to strength since breaking onto the scene in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.

Besides working with a director most actors could only dream of working with (just ask Jonah Hill who took a massive pay cut for that honour in the same movie), Margot has also worked with the likes of Richard Curtis and Will Smith.

She was also arguably the standout performance in Suicide Squad as the deranged Harley Quinn. But before all that Margot was already a household name for fans of daytime soap Neighbours where she played Donna Freedman.

It was already obvious at that stage that she was an extremely talented actress as she earned two Logie Award nominations for the role. She left in 2011 to pursue her dream of making it in Hollywood and within two years her name was on everyone’s lips all over the world.

Heath Ledger

Tragically Ledger’s career was cut short following his untimely death just before the release of The Dark Knight. His role as The Joker proved so iconic and brilliant that it earned him a posthumous Oscar and continues to resonate with audiences and critics alike.

Ledger also demonstrated just how talented he was in Ang Lee's acclaimed romantic drama Brokeback Mountain opposite Jake Gyllenhaal. It will be surprising to some, however, to learn that Heath Ledger appeared in Australian soap Home and Away as well as Sweat, a TV show set in an Australian school for the athletically gifted.

Guy Pearce

Australian soaps Home and Away and Neighbours are almost like training grounds for future Hollywood superstars.

Well if that’s the case then English-born, Aussie-raised Guy has had excellent training as he appeared regularly on both shows. Racking up an impressive 496 episodes of Neighbours before departing in 1989, Pearce has been a regular in Hollywood for the last three decades ever since.

With memorable appearances in Memento, L.A. Confidential and Prometheus, Pearce is an actor that can always be counted on to deliver in big movies.

Isla Fisher

Fisher is probably one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood and has starred in some of the most successful comedies in recent memory.

Her movie Wedding Crashers was a massive commercial hit grossing $285 million worldwide on a budget of $40 million. She more than held her own opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann’s most commercially successful film The Great Gatsby while also turning in more dramatic roles in Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals more recently.

It would be really interesting to see Isla Fisher focus on more serious roles given the kind of juicy storylines she was given during her three year stint in Home and Away in the 1990s, which included anorexia and a character struggling with their sexuality. It would be awesome if she was given the kind of roles to really show her range.

Even so, there's only one Aussie who really matters right now. Watch Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Ragnarok, opening nationwide on 24th October.

Andy Furlong is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.

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