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How Summer Bay conquered Hollywood


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How Summer Bay conquered Hollywood

The Sunday Telegraph

October 10 2010

955655-samara-weaving.jpg

INSIDE Samara Weaving's delicate left wrist is inked a small elephant, its trunk raised skywards.

"When the trunk is up like that, it means luck. And that's how I feel - I am lucky," she confides.

She should be - having just been signed full-time to Home and Away, Weaving has taken the first steps on a career trajectory that could well propel her straight to Hollywood, should the success of the show's other alumni be anything to go by.

While Weaving, 18, deflects such talk over lunch ("Oh, God! I'm just happy where I am; I don't know about anything like that"), the path from Summer Bay to LA is certainly well-trodden.

Fellow blonde Isabel Lucas stuffed her Home and Away CV in a suitcase bound for Hollywood several years back and promptly landed a role in the US blockbuster Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen.

Chris Hemsworth will do the same next year as the title character in the celluloid adaptation of comic book series Thor.

Not bad for a boy who left Home and Away three years ago, his work as an actor built solely around the soapy storylines and sands of Summer Bay.

And then there's Ryan Kwanten, who spent the early part of the decade patrolling Home and Away as the shirtless Vinnie Patterson. He travelled to LA on a whim - "I came over on a three-day ticket. I only had clothes for three days" - before biting off a brilliant turn in Alan Ball's TV series True Blood.

Add to the list Chris Egan (the recent feature Letters To Juliet), Sharni Vinson (money spinner Step Up 3D), Isla Fisher (Confessions Of A Shopaholic), Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck), Melissa George (In Treatment), Justin Melvey (Days Of Our Lives), Tammin Sursok, Guy Pearce, Naomi Watts and even Heath Ledger, and it's fair to suggest that Home and Away is delivering more success stories than the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).

Ironically, Weaving was eyeing off the institution before landing the role of Indigo "Indi" Walker.

"It made perfect sense. I can always go back to university if I want to, I can always try out for NIDA or RADA or whatever down the track but I can't really defer Home and Away."

A self-proclaimed shy teen, Weaving (yes, niece of Hugo) says acting was a way to bury her inhibitions.

"We moved a lot until I was 13 (Indonesia, Singapore, Italy) and I was a quiet kid. I didn't really talk and my dad thought to put me in acting classes to bring me out of my shell."

The plan worked. Today, beyond Weaving's enviable visage - piercing blue eyes and bee-stung lips - she's chatty, refreshingly honest and laid back.

"I grew to love acting. It did bring me out of myself," she says. "You can pretend to be someone else and that's what I enjoy most."

She admits the move to Sydney from Canberra at the start of the year was initially arduous.

"I had to make this massive decision while studying (in year 12 last year).

"It was tough at first because I was going through three things at once: moving out of home, moving to a different city and landing a job - things that most people take two or three years to do.

"There were tears, sure, but everyone here was supportive, especially everyone on the show."

One such supporter, series producer Cameron Welsh, hopes Weaving remains with the soap for a long time yet.

But he's also a realist and has watched so many stars of the soap graduate to fame in the US.

"Sam's genuinely laid-back and funny and all that comes through on screen," Welsh says. "Hopefully she'll stick around for a while but really the sky's the limit for her. Obviously she's a rare mix of humility, extraordinary talent and great looks.

"They don't come along that often. When they have all those things in bucket loads, you know they're special and destined for something big."

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I don't want to be the proverbial bucket of cold water but with the exception of Ledger, Kwanten and possibly now Vinson (honestly didn't see that coming) all of those actors listed are C-list stars in the United States. I posted a topic on this before but I'd be surprised if you asked the average American movie fan half of them wouldn't even know who any of these people are. Tammin Sursok is still playing teenage characters well into her late twenties, Melissa George went from being the hottest thing in Australia to only being able to garner direct to DVD movie releases here in the United States.

The weird thing is for some reason in Australia the media feels the need to make it sound like everyone who goes across the seas becomes this major star overnight when the facts present an entirely different story. Isabel Lucas for example had a small role in the "Transformers" film, a film that would've been successful whether or not Lucas had been involved in it or not, just based on the star power of Megan Fox. However, when the film was released, the movie papers in Australia made it sound like Lucas was the star of the film when in reality her combined on-screen time is around 5-10 minutes total.

It's funny if you want my opinion along with Kwanten the Australian actor who has put together the most consistent career in the United States over the past few years is actually the product of the "Neighbours" franchise, not H&A. His name is Jesse Spencer who has portrayed one of the main characters (Dr. Robert Chase) on one of the most popular television programs in the United States ("House") for six seasons now.

Don't get me wrong I love it when H&A stars get career opportunities in the United States but these articles really do tend to go a bit overboard in rating the success of Australian soapies in America.

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I don't quite agree with you, living in the US, I still see a lot about Chris Hemsworth, especially with Thor coming out soonish, and I read a lot about him after his bit part in the Star Trek movie, that garnered a lot of people's attention. Isabel Lucas is making a big name for herself over here, she's done several movies since Transformers and has a few high profile movies coming out next year, including the remake of Red Dawn that is costarring Chris Hemsworth as well. Chris Egan is doing very well for himself between TV and movies, and Melissa George is on Grey's Anatomy, a hug show in the US. Tammin hasn't been as successful, but she's now on a hit TV show, Pretty Little Liars, and Sharni has had a string of guest star roles on US TV and is now definitely making a name for herself in movies, Step Up launched the career of Channing Tatum in the US, and I have no doubt that Step Up 3D will do the same for Sharni.

All of the H&A alums are doing well in Hollywood, and I see them in gossip mags a lot, especially the girls. Sure maybe they're not as high profile as some American actors, but they are definitely not "C" list in my opinion. Chris Hemsworth is pretty much A list now considering all the roles he's being offered.

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I don't quite agree with you, living in the US, I still see a lot about Chris Hemsworth, especially with Thor coming out soonish, and I read a lot about him after his bit part in the Star Trek movie, that garnered a lot of people's attention. Isabel Lucas is making a big name for herself over here, she's done several movies since Transformers and has a few high profile movies coming out next year, including the remake of Red Dawn that is costarring Chris Hemsworth as well. Chris Egan is doing very well for himself between TV and movies, and Melissa George is on Grey's Anatomy, a hug show in the US. Tammin hasn't been as successful, but she's now on a hit TV show, Pretty Little Liars, and Sharni has had a string of guest star roles on US TV and is now definitely making a name for herself in movies, Step Up launched the career of Channing Tatum in the US, and I have no doubt that Step Up 3D will do the same for Sharni.

All of the H&A alums are doing well in Hollywood, and I see them in gossip mags a lot, especially the girls. Sure maybe they're not as high profile as some American actors, but they are definitely not "C" list in my opinion. Chris Hemsworth is pretty much A list now considering all the roles he's being offered.

Well I won't argue with you that they are all finding work in the United States but they are not as nearly as high profile as some of the Aussie mags make them seem. With all due respect may I suggest that both you and I are more aware of their presence in the United States due to knowing them from their H&A days. Of all the actors you listed, I noticed one common thread and that is that each of them has had a role (with Sharni's being the largest by far) in a film that would've had a tremendous amount of success just based on the brand. "Star Trek", "Transformers" and even "Step Up" (to a lesser degree) all had huge followings prior to these films being released. None of the H&A actors carried these films and in fact most of them had bit parts in them. Hemsworth could be a very big star in the United States if "Thor" goes well. I'm aware he did get some press from the "Star Trek" role but he still hasn't had his break out role yet. Much like Isabel Lucas he was featured in a very high profile movie which would've done well with or without his involvement.

As for Melissa George and Tammin Sursok again they both had guest starring roles on shows which in Melissa's case was extremely successful before she was cast. Melissa is also no longer on "Grey's Anatomy" and I'm not sure what Tammin's status is on PLL. I know Tammin recently had a string of appearances on Hannah Montana and is signed to a contract with Disney so hopefully they will get her name out there. Finally last night I was at the video store and recognized Chris Egan straight off on the box of "Letters To Juliet". Unfortunately if I didn't know it was him, the box wouldn't have helped me none as his name is nowhere to be found on the front cover which is plastered with "Amanda Seyfried" all over it which I found disappointing. It's not my type of movie so I didn't rent it* but from what I understand Chris does have a pretty big role in the film so why not feature his name on the box?

*anyhow I always preferred Chris paired with Laurie Foell anyhow :wink:

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