Summer Bay’s 15 biggest breakout stars
THEY'RE some of Hollywood's biggest names, but a bevy of Tinseltown's A-list stars had humble beginnings right here on the shores of Summer Bay.
From Heath Ledger to Isla Fisher and an array of other big screen heavyweights, these are the Aussie actors who started their careers on Home and Away and went on to make it to the big time. On a scale of Hollywood success, here's how they fare ...
1. Chris Hemsworth
190 episodes 2004-2007
You may know him as Thor, but for four hot years Chris steamed up the screen on Home and Away as hearthrob Kim Hyde. Now a Hollywood superhero, Hemsworth has appeared in blockbusters such as The Avengers, Ghostbusters and Star Trek, and is one of Tinseltown's highest paid actors, raking in a not-so-modest US$31.5 million (A$40 million) in 2017. He was Home and Away veteran Ray Meagher's favourite star to that has gone onto massive success. "He was pretty good naturally when he arrived and when he got here he didn't stop working and kept trying to improve and get better. And he did," Meagher said.
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2. Isla Fisher
390 episodes 1994-1997
Isla first appeared in Summer Bay back in 1994 as bright-eyed foster kid Shannon Reed. After four years on the show, she decided it was time to move on and a few years later scored her big break as Mary-Jane in the kids film Scooby-doo. This was followed by roles in Confessions of a Shopaholic, Wedding Crashers , The Great Gatsby and Now You See Me. She also played Rebel in the fourth season of Arrested Development. According to the website Celebrity Net Worth, the 41-year-old actress now has a net worth of US$20 million (A$25 million).
3. Julian McMahon
145 episodes 1990-1991
The son of former Australian Prime Minister Billy McMahon dropped out of uni to pursue acting, which got off to a great start when he landed the role of Ben Lucini in the Aussie soap. He then made the big move to Hollywood and was soon cast in Charmed and Nip/Tuck. In 2009, Julian was reportedly earning US$175,000 (A$220,000) per episode of Nip/Tuck. In addition to his TV work, he's also starred in the films Fantastic Four, Premonition, and RED.
4. Melissa George
496 episodes 1993-1996
Melissa played Summer Bay sweetheart and tragedy-rocked Angel Parrish for three years. She left the show bound for Hollywood, starring in a number of TV series, including Friends, Alias, and In Treatment, which she earned a Golden Globe nomination for. Melissa also appeared alongside Ryan Reynolds in the horror flick remake The Amityville Horror in 2005. She annoyed Australians when she snubbed the nation and Home and Away in an interview, saying "I don't need credibility from my country any more, I just need them all to be quiet". Melissa has since apologised for her comments. Her net worth is estimated to be about US$5 million (A$6.3 million).
5. Tammin Sursok
307 episodes 2000-2004
Dani Sutherland was Summer Bay's headstrong teen, who even served a stint in prison for attempted murder. But Tammin channelled her flair for the dramatic towards Tinseltown and joined The Young And The Restless in 2007. Her most recognisable and long-term role is playing bad girl Jenna Marshall in hit series Pretty Little Liars. Tammin, who boasts 1.1 million followers on Instagram, has extended her talents beyond the camera with a children's clothing line called Stella Phoenix.
6. Ryan Kwanten
211 episodes 1997-2002
He became an instant Hollywood hit when he was cast as Jason Stackhouse in cult vampire series True Blood in 2008, but once upon a time Ryan was Leah's loveable hubby, Vinnie, who left the show after being arrested for fraud and later died in witness protection. Kwanten has also starred in a string of movies and is set to play a dirty cop in the new crime series The Oath. Ryan is reportedly now worth a cool US$3 million (A$3.77 million), according to The Richest.
7. Dannii Minogue
123 episodes 1989-1990
Even before she was on Home and Away, Dannii rose to prominence in the early 1980s for her role in Young Talent Time. She then joined the Channel 7 soap before following big sister Kylie's footsteps and pursuing a career as a pop singer in the early 1990s. She has starred on a string of talk and talent shows in the UK and Australia, including The X Factor. She may not be a Hollywood superstar, but Dannii, who is worth an estimated $22 million (A$27 million) is still raking in the big bucks thanks to her music and TV appearances as well as work with brands such as Target, L'Oreal Professionel Australia and Virgin Australia.
8. Isabel Lucas
256 episodes 2003-2006
The very shy character of Tasha Andrews was involved in some of the most interesting plots in Home and Away, including the super dangerous cult she got caught up in, but Isabel expanded her horizons after three years playing the part. She has since starred in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Red Dawn, Daybreakers and The Loft. The passionate environmentalist has 118,000 followers on Instagram.
9. Brenton Thwaites
56 episodes 2011-2012
One of the new faces that has just started popping up on big screens, Brenton is best known for his role as Henry in the 2017 $US320 million blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge. But before he was acting alongside his A-list buddy Johnny Depp or Hollywood glamour Angelina Jolie in the fantasy hit Maleficent, the Cairns boy played Summer Bay River Boy, Stu Henderson.
10. Lincoln Lewis
541 episodes 2007-2010
Lincoln's character Geoff Campbell was one of the top heart-throbs over the series' 30 years. Serving a solid stint on the show, with a string of love interests including Tessa James' character Nicole, Lincoln branched away from the bay and has since starred in Tomorrow, When the War Began, Bait and Postcards. He is the son of NRL legend Wally 'the King' Lewis. The 30-year-old, who has 128,000 fans on Instagram, won the Logie in 2008 for Most Popular New Male Talent.
11. Samara Weaving
336 episodes 2009-2013
Nearly five years after leaving the bay, Samara is just starting to make waves in the big smoke. Starting her career as Summer Bay's hot property Indigo Walker on the soap, Samara has since been in a number of productions, including series SMILF and Picnic at Hanging Rock, as well as movies The Babysitter, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and Mayhem. The niece of Aussie acting royalty Hugo Weaving has 80,600 followers on Twitter - no small feat!
Other notable mentions ...
Their time on the long-running soap may have been short, but Home and Away has also appeared on the resume of these Hollywood stars.
11 episodes, 1997
He only appeared in Home and Away briefly as bad boy Scott Irwin, Sally's love interest, but Heath's career rapidly skyrocketed in Hollwood. He soon starred in acclaimed films including 10 Things I Hate About You, A Knight's Tale and Brokeback Mountain, for which he picked up a best actor Oscar nomination. He tragically died before he won an Oscar for his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Home and Away's top dog Ray Meagher, better known as Alf Stewart on the soap, said Heath was the first big name to come out of the series. "It's fantastic what happened with him," Meagher said. "He was only here a short time and not long after he left he just went ballistic, he was probably the first huge number that has been through our doors."
19 episodes 1991
The Oscar-nominated actress only had a short stint on Home and Away playing Julie Gibson, who over the course of a month had a romance ruined by her overbearing brother, lost her father to a heart attack and left the Bay to study at university. Now one of Hollywood's most in-demand stars, Naomi has had leading roles in blockbusters like Tank Girl, King Kong and The Impossible.
19 episodes 1993-1994
He has starred alongside A-list veterans Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada and Kevin Spacey in Margin Call, but Simon had humble beginnings in Summer Bay playing photography teacher James Healey. He is best known for his role as the star of US TV series The Mentalist and The Guardian.
19 episodes 1991-1992
He started out on Neighbours but after four years Guy jumped to rival soap Home and Away for a short stint, playing Donald Fisher's nephew, David. He shot to fame shortly after leaving when he starred in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. His impressive films include The Hurt Locker, Prometheus and Iron Man 3. He also won an Emmy Award for his work in Mildred Pierce alongside Kate Winslet.