Australia's 10 Most Iconic Actresses

Cate Blanchett | © Shutterstock
Picture of Monique La Terra
Updated: 12 December 2017
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Australian actresses are in high demand in Hollywood and these 10 leading ladies are the cream of the crop. From the striking talents of Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman and Judy Davis through to the comedic Rose Byrne and newbie Margot Robbie these actresses are celebrated members of the industry and continue to define what it means to be iconic.

Nicole Kidman

Since making her film debut in 1983, Nicole Kidman has amassed 80 acting credits including critically acclaimed roles in Moulin Rouge, The Others, The Hours and Cold Mountain. Most recently the Hawaiian born, Australian actress has been commended for her work in the biographical drama Lion and HBO mini-series Big Little Lies. The actress has received four Oscar nominations, and in 2002 she won an Oscar and a BAFTA for her portrayal of Virginia Woolf in The Hours. Kidman currently has two films in post-production and is filming the crime thriller Destroyer.

Cate Blanchett

Graceful and commanding, Cate Blanchett has made a name for herself as one of the world’s most diverse lead actresses. Upon graduating from the prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1992, Blanchett landed several stage roles, before making her feature film debut in 1997s Paradise Road. Since then she has inhabited an assortment of characters and starred in films such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Elizabeth, Babel and Carol. A master of her craft, Blanchett has received seven Oscar nominations and is the only Australian to win two acting Academy Awards for work The Aviator and Blue Jasmine. She currently has three films in post-production and is filming The House with a Clock in its Walls.

Naomi Watts

Born in Kent, England Naomi Watts forged an acting career after moving to Australia with her family in 1982. It was in Australia that she befriended Nicole Kidman. In 1986 she landed her first role in the film For Love Alone, before appearing in televisions shows such as Hey Dad..! and Home and Away. After struggling throughout the 90s, Watts was cast in David Lynch’s psychological thriller Mulholland Drive. Success followed with starring roles in The Ring, 21 Grams, King Kong and The Impossible. She also received two Academy Awards nominations for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. Watts currently has two films in post-production and is filming The Wolf Hour.

Rose Byrne

Long before she was a Bridesmaid, Rose Byrne starred in a string of Australian television shows before landing a small role in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. She later appeared in Troy, Insidious, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Apocalypse, Bridesmaids and Bad Neighbours. She also starred alongside Glenn Close in the legal thriller Damages between 2007 and 2012. Byrne currently has two films in post-production and is set to star in the comedy Instant Family.

Margot Robbie

Following in the footsteps of many successful Australian actors, Margot Robbie began her career on the soap opera Neighbours. After moving abroad, she found international mainstream success in films such as in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street as well as Focus, The Legend of Tarzan and Suicide Squad. Her recent portrayal of ice skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya has received significant praise from critics. Robbie currently has three films in post-production and is filming the drama thriller Dreamland.

Toni Collette

Working steadily since 1992, Toni Collette has generously contributed her talents to the screen and stage, even picking up an Emmy and Golden Globe Award along the way. After landing the title role in Muriel’s Wedding, Collette was catapulted to stardom and went on to star in films including The Sixth Sense, About a Boy, The Hours and Little Miss Sunshine. In 1994, Collette received a Tony Award nomination for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her role in The Wild Party. She was also nominated for an Academy Award for The Sixth Sense. Collette currently has two films in post-production and is filming the TV series Wanderlust.

Jackie Weaver

Born in Sydney, Jackie Weaver has been a dominating presence on Australian film, stage, and television since the early 1960s. In 2010 she starred in the Melbourne crime thriller Animal Kingdom, for which she earned a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Two years later she received the same nomination for the film Silver Linings Playbook. In 2014 Weaver was awarded the prestigious Order of Australia medal. She currently has four films in post-production with several others in the works.

Judy Davis

Described by Woody Allen as “one of the most exciting actresses in the world,” Judy Davis has lent her talents to film, television, and stage. A graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Davis has an assemblage of credits to her name including roles in A Passage to India, Husbands and Wives, Barton Fink, and High Tide. She has also worked successfully on television and was most recently seem as Hedda Hopper in Feud: Bette and Joan. For her work, she has collected eight AACTA Awards, three Emmy Awards, two BAFTA Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and earned two Oscar nominations. Davis is currently filming the TV mini-series Mystery Road: The Series.

Rachel Griffiths

Rising to prominence in the beloved Australian comedy Muriel’s Wedding, Rachel Griffiths has been an in-demand actress since 1994. Her film credits include My Best Friend’s Wedding opposite Cameron Diaz and Julie Roberts, Blow opposite Johnny Depp and Hacksaw Ridge opposite Andrew Garfield. In 1998 Griffiths received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film Hilary and Jackie. She is also well known for her acclaimed work in Six Feet Under and Brothers and Sisters.

Isla Fisher

Often mistaken for Amy Adams, Isla Fisher is known for her comedic and dramatic flair in films including Wedding Crashers, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Now You See Me and The Great Gatsby. Born in Muscat, Oman, Fisher grew up in Perth and began acting at the age of nine. At 18 she published two teen novels, before landing the role of Shannon Reed on Home and Away which helped launch her career. In 2016 she received the Trailblazer Award at the 6th AACTA Awards. Fisher currently has one film in post-production and is filming her next comedic project The Beach Bum.

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