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‘Bootcamp for Australian actors’: Ten major stars who got their start on Neighbours

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Margot Robbie once described Neighbours as a “boot camp for Australian actors”. 

“Everyone goes through it,” Robbie told talk show host Jimmy Kimmel in an interview.

“You have to do Neighbours or Home and Away first and then you end up here,”  she said.

‘Here’ is Los Angeles, where Robbie founded the production company LuckyChap Entertainment in 2014 and starred in numerous blockbuster hits such as Birds of Prey (2020) and Wolf of Wall St (2013).

But her story began on Neighbours as the aspiring fashion designer Donna Freedman.

The fiery character was in a passionate (and bumpy) relationship with Ringo Brown (Sam Clarke). They became the 36th couple to get married on the show. 

Robbie obviously isn’t the only Hollywood superstar to have gotten her start on Neighbours, the Australian television classic that is coming to an end after nearly 37 years. 

With such a legacy under its belt, this is a good moment to look at some of the biggest Australian stars to have passed through Ramsay Street.

1. Margot Robbie

Robbie was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Bombshell at the 2020 Oscars. Photo: Lionsgate

These days, Robbie is a Hollywood powerhouse. 

Apart from starting her own production company, the actor has been nominated for two Academy Awards for her performances in I, Tonya and Bombshell. 

Her upcoming string of projects includes the live-action Barbie, based on the popular doll. Ryan Gosling (La La Land) has been cast as boy toy Ken, alongside Marvel superhero Simu Liu (Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings) and America Ferrera (Superstore). 

The film is helmed by Greta Gerwig, who has Ladybird and Little Women to her name.

2. Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue joined Neighbours in 1986 as Charlene Mitchell, the beloved mechanic who went on to marry Scott Robinson (Jason Donovan). 

Almost 20 million people tuned in to watch Charlene and Scott tie the knot, one of Neighbours’ most iconic couples.

After the show announced it was coming to an end, Minogue paid tribute to the series on Twitter.

The singer-songwriter shared that she will be forever grateful for the experience and friends she made on the show. 

“We had no idea how big the show would become and how passionately viewers would take it to heart. Pure love! I can still hear Madge calling … CHARLENE!!!!” 

After starring on Neighbours, Minogue launched her solo music career and went on to become the highest-selling female Australian artist of all time. 

3. Russell Crowe

Back in 1987, Kiwi-born actor Russell Crowe starred in four episodes of Neighbours as Henry Ramsay’s (Craig McLachlan) ex-con friend Kenny Larkin. 

It wasn’t the biggest role, but look at him now.

Crowe’s long list of Hollywood blockbusters includes Master and Commander, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man and The Nice Guys. 

For his performance as Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator, Crowe took home the gong for Best Actor at the Academy Awards in 2001.

4. Murray Bartlett

Murray Bartlett’s acting career kicked off in the early ‘90s, with stints on both Neighbours and Home and Away. In the former, he starred as conman Luke Foster. 

Although Bartlett only appeared in a handful of episodes, he went on to guest star in series like Sex and the City, White Collar and The Good Wife. 

His career milestone came last year after he starred as chaotic hotel manager Armond in Season 1 of The White Lotus. 

The performance earned him nominations from the Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice Television Awards. 

Last year, Bartlett was cast in the highly-anticipated HBO adaptation of The Last of Us. 

5. Chris Hemsworth

The fourth instalment in the Thor series is slated to hit cinemas this July. Photo: Marvel 

Before Chris Hemsworth starred on Home and Away as Kim Hyde for almost 200 episodes, he appeared in a single episode of Neighbours. 

Hemsworth played Jamie Kane, who worked alongside car-loving Steph Scully (Carla Bonner).

These days, we know Hemsworth as Thor in the Marvel franchise and Tyler Rake in Extraction.

He is set to star as wrestler Hulk Hogan in an upcoming biopic for Netflix, too.

Thor: Love and Thunder, the fourth instalment in the superhero film series, is slated for release this July.

Directed by Taika Waititi, the star-studded film features Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and Tessa Thompson, with cheeky cameos from Matt Damon, Russell Crowe and Hemsworth’s brother Luke. 

Speaking of which… 

6. Luke Hemsworth

The eldest Hemsworth brother played Ashley Stubbs in the sci-fi western TV series. Photo: HBO

Luke Hemsworth, the eldest, played Nathan Tyson from 2001 to 2002 on Neighbours. 

Nathan was a footballer who got caught abusing steroids to up his performance on the field.

Luke later returned to the soap in 2008 to star as a different minor character by the name of John Carter, a car salesman.

Since 2016, Luke has starred in the hit HBO series Westworld as Ashley Stubbs and Coach Erickson in Young Rock. 

7. Liam Hemsworth

Liam Hemsworth rocketed to fame after his breakout role in The Last Song. Photo: Touchstone Pictures

And to complete the trio, we have Liam Hemsworth. 

The youngest of the brothers played Josh Taylor in 25 episodes of Neighbours. 

Josh was a paraplegic who dated major character Bridget Parker (Eloise Mignon) after a car accident left her paralysed on one side of her body. 

Liam’s big break came when he starred in the Nicholas Sparks drama The Last Song with Miley Cyrus, who he would later marry and ultimately divorce. 

After that, he played Gale Hawthorne in The Hunger Games franchise opposite Jennifer Lawrence.  

8. Natalie Imbruglia

Natalie Imbruglia played Beth Brennan from 1992 to 1994 on Neighbours.

Beth worked in the Coffee Shop (before it was renamed Harold’s Cafe) and became an apprentice builder.

After some will-they/won’t-they shenanigans, Beth started dating and got engaged to Brad Willis (Scott Michaelson). But they ultimately split after Beth found out Brad was cheating on her. 

After Neighbours, Imbruglia shifted into music and released her cover of Ednaswap’s Torn in 1997. 

The song was a smash hit around the world.

Her latest album Firebird was released in 2021.

9. Ben Mendelsohn

Ben Mendelsohn transformed into an alien his role as Talos in Captain Marvel. Photo: Getty

Ben Mendelsohn played Warren Murphy on Neighbours from 1986 to 1987. 

Warren was the bad boy who briefly dated Charlene during her split from Scott.

Mendelsohn, who won an Emmy for his performance in Bloodline, has a colourful list of career highlights.

There’s My Voice Broke (1987), Animal Kingdom (2010), Rogue One (2016), Captain Marvel (2019) Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) and HBO’s The Outsiders in 2020. 

You can catch him in the critically acclaimed musical Cyrano, which is in cinemas now. 

10. Guy Pearce

Guy Pearce starred alongside Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown. Photo: HBO

The English-born Australian star is another actor who appeared on both Neighbours and Home and Away. 

On Neighbours, Pearce played Mike Young from 1986 to 1989. 

Mike was good mates with Scott and Charlene and later became a high school maths teacher. The character spent a lot of time processing his traumatic childhood in which he and his mother were abused by their father. 

Since Neighbours, Pearce has appeared in The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), The Hurt Locker (2008), The King’s Speech (2010) and Iron Man 3 (2013). 

He also starred as Richard Ryan in the triumphant HBO series Mare of Easstown, which premiered last year. 

We’ve Already Come Too Far To End This Now.

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