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Summer Bay to Hollywood

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THE golden sands of Summer Bay have become a breeding ground for Hollywood's next big stars.

While long-running TV soap Home and Away enjoys ratings success locally, its former stars are running rings around their Hollywood competition by securing major film in multi-million dollar films.

Logie-winner Chris Hemsworth is the latest actor to be snapped up for a co-starring role opposite British star Sean Bean in psychological thriller The Cache.

While secrecy surrounds the script and the 24-year-old's character, Hemsworth began filming in Chicago earlier this month.

Home and Away producer Cameron Welsh says the day Hemsworth quit to chase superstardom overseas he knew he'd score a deal.

"You knew instantly he was going to be big, just by the look of the guy,'' Welsh, 30, said. ``He has a great look and a brilliant voice and those things are really important and really valid skills.

"It was great to stand by and watch him grow and it was no surprise when we learned he was getting roles over in the States weeks after finishing here.''

The Home and Away production line has been in full swing for the past 20 years, churning out star after star, with Isabel Lucas another riding the wave of success.

Lucas, 22, recently completed filming vampire thriller Daybrakers opposite Ethan Hawke and says the fast pace and long hours of a soap gives actors the tools they need to achieve big things.

"It's like a fast-paced factory, you just churn out scene after scene and you need to be able to reach and get emotions then and there,'' she said. ``There is a lot of pressure at the time, but it's the best training you could ever get.''

At just 23, Chris Egan is another to leave Summer Bay behind to work abroad.

He has appeared in US television series Empire and Vanished and now Egan will be seen opposite Milla Jovovich in sci-fi flick Resident Evil: Extinction when it opens next month.

As these young stars shine overseas there are also established actors, including Oscar-nominated actor Heath Ledger, Melissa George and Isla Fisher, who learned the tricks of the trade through their time on Home and Away.

George, who played the popular character Angel, is lapping up the work with ease.

She will be seen next opposite Hollywood hunk Josh Hartnett in horror film 30 Days Of Night.

"Being on Home and Away teaches you to be a good actor,'' George said. ``We went through a lot on Home and Away. It was a major training ground and it is very positive, very fulfilling and very exciting to be where I am now because of that.''

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