Many Australian actors train at NIDA or other drama schools then spend years toiling in the theatre and playing supporting roles in films and TV series before getting their big break, if it ever happens.
Luke Bracey took a much shorter cut: He's starred in two US movies, 20th Century Fox's romantic comedy Monte Carlo and indie thriller Crimson Tear, after an apprenticeship that consisted of a six-month run as a regular in Home and Away.
Not bad for a guy who turned 21 in February. “I completely fell into acting,” Luke told SBS Film from Los Angeles where he now lives. “When I left school I was playing rugby union in Sydney and looking to go somewhere in that. Then I got asked to audition by a TV show (Out of the Blue) by a friend of mine and seven months later I got asked by that casting director to audition for Home and Away and I got the job.”
He played troubled teen Trey Palmer in the soap. “I enjoyed it and worked hard on that for the back half of 2009, then auditioned for Monte Carlo.”
In the Fox film directed by Tom Bezucha, which opens in the US on July 1 and in Oz in September, he plays an Australian backpacker who encounters an American girl holidaying in France with her best friend and her uptight stepsister. The cast includes Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy, Andie MacDowell and Cory Monteith.
After finishing that movie his Australian agent Mark Morrissey arranged for him to meet five of the top agencies in LA. He signed with the management company ROAR which also represents two other Morrissey clients, brothers Chris and Liam Hemsworth.
In director Bill Birrell's Crimson Tear, which was shot in Philadelphia in February, he co-stars with Isabelle McNally, Lydia Hearst and Theodora Greece, playing a shady character who gets caught up in a romantic triangle with two college students. After that he qualified for a three-year US visa attached to his management company.
Unlike those who've had formal training, Bracey doubts he'd have enjoyed going to NIDA or similar institutions, reasoning, “They focus on techniques whereas I feel I enjoy it when I can just organically get there and think about what I saw someone do when they were feeling a certain thing.”
Although he's a relative newcomer, Bracey is keenly aware of the paradox that while plenty of Aussies are forging successful careers in US films and TV series, the local production industry struggles along at chronically low ebb.
“I think about that a lot,” he said. “I think there's a lot of potential with Australian films, especially with our unique sense of humour and way of life. It's hard to connect all those things to make a good film that is going to be financially viable.
“Since maybe The Castle, I don't think we've found that really heartwarming, typically Australian way to relate to people through film. It's just a matter of time. There are some great actors coming out of Australia but we're struggling with the material and that's driving actors out of Australia to America; the material in Australia isn't as strong.”
Amen to that.