Since Errol Flynn became a Hollywood movie star in the 1930’s Australians have been following their artistic dreams to America. Today a wealth of Australian talent is achieving success in Hollywood and beyond. “AUSTRALIANS HIT HOLLYWOOD” is an independent feature length documentary that looks at the cultural differences, community support, communication difficulty, first impressions and the Australian characteristics that lead to this success. Interviews were conducted with actors, directors, producers, cinematographers, screenwriters, musicians, reality stars and business executives working in America.
– Written by Kalee StClair
– Director Producer “AUSTRALIANS HIT HOLLYWOOD”
Interview subjects for this documentary about the ups and downs of being Australian in Hollywood include actor Alex O’Loughlin (“Moonlight”, “Three Rivers”), actress Yvonne Strahovski (“Chuck”), actor Dominick Purcell (“Prison Break”), chef Curtis Stone (“Take Home Chef”), actor/director Stuart Townsend (“Battle in Seattle”), singer Michael Johns (“American Idol”), actor and Australian legend Jack Thompson, screenwriter Stuart Beattie (“G.I Joe”, 3:10 to Yuma”), director Phillip Noyce (“Patriot Games”, “Rabbit Proof Fence”) and many others.
Australians are invading Hollywood – In front and behind the camera.
Alex: I am the guy in a new CBS drama. I’m just taking it day by day, you know. I mean, it is a BIG responsibility.
Australians hit Hollywood. A documentary about mateship, community, “Having a go” and complete communication failure.
Questions: Has there ever been a problem. like when you’ve gone for an audition, the fact that you are Australian? Was any one worried that you could not sustain the accents, or …?
Alex: Never. No, never. Accent is something ….. No it’s never been a problem. Accents for me are ….. I think as I …. again I use this term very loosely, ‘I’m a musician‘. I’m not a real musician at all. But I love music and I play music and it’s really … it is just something that I …. it calms me. And, you know, it’s something that I love. And I’ve always treated accents like I treat music. And I’m self-taught, I don’t know how to read music. I am …. So I’ve learned everything by ear. And I have a way of hearing and filtering it and then doing something with it. So it is the same with accents.
It’s something my …. It was a part of the curriculum at NIDA, that I was, I was …. into very seriously. I took it all seriously. But I took accents very seriously. And Betty Williams, who is one of the best voice coaches in the world, as far as I am concerned. She said something to me once. And she said: …. I can’t remember what it was, but it’s made me realise that for me doing an accent, isn’t about the sound I make. It’s about the thought process that happens before the scene.
Since you’re playing an American …… Americans actually think differently than an Australian. And Glaswegian-Scott’s think differently to Americans. And Belfast-Irish and so on and so forth…
And so I believe you really have to find the essence of that … that people, before you can make the sound. So I try to be as diligent each time I come to a new accent, as I was the last time. More than anything, I mean you don’t want to look like an idiot …. blah blah blah.
And at the end of the day, but also, because I feel that we have a duty to … I don’t want to sound sanctimonious, but I just feel, that if you play another sort of people, you have a duty to them to understanding of where they’ve been and where the sound comes from. What it means to be … to be that.
So …. No, I usually go into the audition, in the accent.
Question: Are you playing an American the whole time?
Alex: Yeah, yeah. And it’s not cause I want to fool anyone. It’s just because, it’s the way I do it. And with August Rush, you know, I went in Irish. And met everyone in Irish. Because it is the other thing. If you’re not meeting people in the accent, you go …… You’ve got to be thinking the way …. and I, you know, differently, because it’s all improv, so ……
Question: Do you have some favourite Aussie slang words?
Alex: I … yeah, I’ve got quite a few Australian colloquialisms that I … I use ….. I say …. I say really bad things though, like ‘fair dinkum‘. I don’t even realise I’m saying it, ’til one of my mates goes …. “What did you say? Fair dinkum?”
But I do, I mean, spending …. having Jack Thompson as such an influential sort of figure in my life, I think we speak a lot. And he …. he has really old classic slang … classic ‘slangisms’…. ‘Slangisms’? Is that a word? Is that a thing? It’s funny.
And he …. he sort of keeps them alive for me, I think. But I say ‘fair dinkum‘. I don’t say ‘struth’. I don’t think anyone should ever say ‘struth’. [laughs]
Um … ‘fair dinkum’ no it is … What else do I say? …… I say ‘G’day‘. I mean ‘G’day‘ is a ….. I’ve always said ‘G’day‘. Which is …. like I love hearing it. When someone say, “G’Day mate”, it’s like, “Ah, Hey!” . We understand each other.
- Fair dinkum: Used to emphasize that, or query whether something is genuine or true.
- Struth: Contraction of the words “God’s truth“; exclamation, mild oath frequently used by all dinky-di Aussies. Alternative spelling: strewth
- G’day: Literally means “Good Day”, a common Australian informal greeting.
Alex O’Loughlin (“The Back Up Plan”, “Three Rivers”, “Moonlight”) gives advice to actors coming to Hollywood in a clip from the documentary “AUSTRALIANS HIT HOLLYWOOD”.
Alex: I think the other piece of advice I give to people coming to Hollywood or coming to Los Angeles to …. to move on with their careers, is just, “Believe”, like the old thing, you know …. “Believe half of what you see, and half of what you hear. And be very careful who you trust. But go in with and open heart, and go in with an open mind, you know. Take it all in, and trust your gut.”
- It looks like there was a screening of the documentary in February 2009 and the also one in September 2009. I found pictures (not any of Alex though) from the red carpet of the one and a caption to announce the other:
- Screening of documentary ‘Australians Hit Hollywood‘ – Los Angeles, California – Saturday 28th February 2009 (28 images)
- “AUSTRALIANS HIT HOLLYWOOD” has 2 screenings at “The Temecula International Film & Music Festival” .. Thur, Sept 10 @ 9pm & Sat, Sept 12 @ 1pm .. one and a half hours from LA .. your chance to see it on the big screen .. I’m giving away 5 inch kangaroo toys to attendees!
- Although the documentary was screened in 2009, it was obviously made earlier, I would guess in somewhere in 2007. I think that, because Alex says: “I am the guy in a new CBS drama”, and they show a billboard of Moonlight. Alex’s hair in the interview also looks like the early days of Moonlight. Maybe it was done in December that year when he went back home.
- It is really a pity that the sound and visual footage were not of higher quality – it is hard enough to follow the Australian accent. 😀
This is our edit from Kalee St Clair´s documentary, just Alex bits of course 🙂