Home and Away and Neighbours stars' major Hollywood transformations

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Aussie soaps Home And Away and Neighbours, while bringing regular drama and sometimes ridiculous storylines into our living rooms, are fertile ground for creating world-renowned actors.

These stars now look like impossible embodiments of Hollywood glamour, but starting out, they looked just like you and me.

Here's how much these stars have changed since making it big on the world stage.

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Chris Hemsworth

Chris was 21 when he made waves playing schoolboy Kim Hyde in Aussie soap Home And Away.

However, after leaving the show in 2007, the now Hollywood superstar struggled to make his mark.

He performed on reality show Dancing With The Stars Australia while still on the soap, but serious film roles were harder to come by.

Chris Hemsworth at the Sydney Opera House on on a red carpet
Chris has come a long way since playing Kim Hyde in Home And Away. Photo: Getty Images

He finally got a break in 2009 when he played Captain James Kirk's father George in JJ Abrams' Star Trek movie.

He went on to do a couple more films but his real breakthrough was when he was cast as Thor in Marvel's franchise of the same name.

From there his rise was meteoric and he is now considered one of the world's highest-paid actors, though he still credits his start on Aussie TV for launching him to the top.

Home-grown worth ethic

"I thank my upbringing here in Australia and working on Home and Away and the people I met there and those lessons I learnt," the star told the Today show.

"I really took all that work ethic and that experience over there (America) and I think that's what pays off."

Isla Fisher

She may have started acting in commercials at just nine years old, but it was her role as Shannon Reed in Home and Away that gave Isla Fisher her break in Australian TV.

Australian actress Isla Fisher, who appears in the television soap opera 'Home and Away', in the 1990s in Sydney, Australia. And Isla attending a screening of the Oscars on Monday, April 26, 2021 in Sydney, Australia
Actress Isla Fisher in the 90s and this year at the Oscars screening in Sydney. Photo: Getty Images

"I would be stupid to let it go to my head because it could all end tomorrow and I would just fade back into obscurity," she previously told the Sun Herald of her popularity on the show.

"I like working on Home and Away, but it's a heavy workload so I get stressed out a lot.

"We work about 15 hours a day, including the time it takes to learn lines ... but I am very grateful because it is good experience.

"It's like an apprenticeship, but we do it in front of 20 million people so all our mistakes are up for the world to see."

With a work ethic like that, it was little wonder she was soon knocking at Hollywood's door for a chance to hit the big time.

Her first success was in the film Scooby-Doo and before long she was starring in blockbusters such as Wedding Crashers, Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Great Gatsby and Now You See Me.

No place like home

Despite her international career and being married to English actor Sasha Baron Cohen, she still calls Australia home.

"I feel like I can be myself in Australia," she told Marie Claire magazine.

"I like people. I love the colours and the views and the taste and the smells. And there is something about being at home that's right… it's very magical.

"I miss it so much when I'm away and have a very Australian sensibility.

"I'm always surprised to have a job, to be married and to have my family – everything else seems like a bonus to me," she adds.

Melissa George

Melissa George shot to fame after winning a modelling contest in her hometown of Perth, but she chose to pursue acting in the role of Angel Parrish on Home And Away.

After three years on the show and five Logie Award nominations, Melissa, then aged 21, decided to try her luck in Los Angeles.

Home And Away Stars Cathy Godbold, Melissa George (Back), Kate Ritchie, Tina Thomsen And Laura Vazquez (Front) Attend The 1993 Fashion Industry Of Australia Awards. Melissa George attends Kering Women In Motion Awards Dinner on July 11, 2021 in Cannes, France.
Home And Away's Melissa George (far right) with fellow soaps stars: Kate Ritchie, Tina Thomsen, Cathy Godbold and Laura Vazquez in 1993 and Melissa at an awards ceremony this year. Photo: Getty Images

Melissa had many supporting roles in feature films before becoming a leading lady in the remake of The Amityville Horror. This led to a series of horror and thriller movies.

Most recently she has starred with Justin Theroux in the big-budget 2021 television remake of The Mosquito Coast.

Completely different

After years of struggling to get a breakthrough, going through a tough divorce with her former husband and raising her children in Paris, Melissa believes she's now a completely different person.

"I am more interesting, I am more calm, I'm more universal, I'm more cultured," she told Deadline.

"I'm nicer, I don't know. I just feel like when you get everything beaten out of you, you choose to put in the right ingredients and make yourself a better person."

Margot Robbie

Her role as Donna Freedman on Neighbours was supposed to be a guest role, but it seems even her soap bosses recognised her star potential.

Margot Robbie played Donna for three years.

Then she had a decision to make.

Margot Robbie arrives for the Australian Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards 2009 at Hisense Arena in Melbourne, Australia. And Margot Robbie on the red carpet for the 2021 Academy Awards
From hometown girl to Hollywood superstar – Margot Robbie has had a Hollywood glow-up! Photo: Getty Images

"I basically had only three options back then," she told TV Week.

"Either I would have waited until the producers at some point got rid of my character from the series, or I would have played the role forever and led a comfortable life in Australia.

"And the third option was to quit and see if I could make it in America, which offered me more chances than Australia.

"Of course, I could have failed, but I was willing to risk it."

She got a role in the 2011 TV series Pan Am but it was two years later in the film The Wolf of Wall Street, with Leonardo DiCaprio, when she really got her breakthrough.

From there, she has become an A-List leading lady with roles such as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of ice skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya and critical acclaim for her parts in Queen Elizabeth I, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and Bombshell.

She is now producing films and television with her husband Tom Ackerley as well as taking starring roles.

Jesse Spencer

Jesse Spencer was just 15 when he took on the role of Billy Kennedy in Neighbours.

He played Billy for six years and was a household name in Australia and the UK before he got his big break in America.

Actor Jesse Spencer, who plays Billy Kennedy in the Australian television programme 'Neighbours', poses as Peter Pan at a photocall in London in 1998 and Eamonn Walker, Jesse Spencer, Taylor Kinney pose on set for the 200th episode of Chicago Fire
Jesse Spencer started his career in Neighbours and Billy Kennedy and has just recently finished his role as Captain Casey on Chicago Fire. Photo: Getty Images

It was as intensive care specialist and surgeon Dr Robert Chase, in the TV series House, that Jesse made his mark, playing the character for eight years.

He went on to star in Chicago Fire as firefighter Matthew Casey before leaving the show this year after nine years.

Naomi Watts

It must have been hard for Naomi Watts watching her best friend Nicole Kidman get her big acting breaks early, but she needn't have worried.

The girl who turned down a date with Tom Cruise in a lamb commercial may have taken longer to develop her career, but she is a bonafide Hollywood star now.

Naomi Watts played Julie Gibson in Home and Away and Naomi Watts attends the Golden Heart Awards 2021 benefiting God's Love We Deliver at The Glasshouse on October 18, 2021 in New York City
Naomi Watts played Julie Gibson in Home and Away before getting her break in Hollywood. Photo: Seven/Getty Images

In an early role in Home and Away she played Julie Gibson, after which she had a few false starts in LA before starring in David Lynch's psychological thriller Mulholland Drive.

"When I came to America there was so much promise of good stuff and I thought, 'I've got it made here; I'm going to kick ass'," she said in an interview about her early career.

"Then I went back to Australia and did one or two more jobs.

"When I returned to Hollywood, all those people who'd been so encouraging before weren't interested."

She became a leading lady with roles such as 21 Grams, for which she was nominated for Best Actress, King Kong and Birdman.

Simon Baker

When we first got to know Simon, he was a fresh-faced actor on E Street by the name of Simon Denny.

He then went on to Home and Away and in the mid-90s he moved to the US to see if he could get a break.

It wasn't long before he was getting roles on TV and the big screen, but it was as Patrick Jane, the lead role in The Mentalist, that he really hit the big time.

Simon Baker at the beginning of his career in a Smash Hits Video and wearing glasses as an older actor.
Simon Baker started out in E Street and Home and Away before making it big in the US as The Mentalist. Photos: Smash Hits/Getty Images

In 2010 he signed a US$30 million contract for his role.

In 2013 he got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame cementing his status in Hollywood.

He has since moved back to Sydney to be closer to family during the pandemic.

Guy Pearce

He was the mullet-sporting, troubled but gentle best friend of Scott Robinson, but it wasn't long before Guy Pearce was leaving his Neighbours character Mike Young behind for bigger things.

His breakout role was the fabulously flamboyant Felicia, a drag queen in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

He went on to lead roles in critically acclaimed Hollywood films such as LA Confidential, Momento, The Hurt Locker and The Kings Speech – the last two winning Best Picture Oscars.

Guy Pearce as Mike Young in Neighbours and on Late Night with Seth Meyers in 2019
Guy Pearce played Mike Young in Neighbours before making it big in the US. Photos: Network 10/Getty Images

Guy now balances his TV roles such as Jack Irish and Mare of Easttown with his film commitments and is constantly working.

Wow, what amazing glow-ups and careers have blossomed from our soaps Down Under!

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