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Home and Away

EXCLUSIVE: Home And Away star Rhys Wakefield reveals Chris Hemsworth convinced him to move to Hollywood

''I'm forever grateful.''

By TV Week team
Rhys Wakefield has lived in Los Angeles for more than 10 years and carved out a well-rounded career in that time. From acting roles to writing, and directing his own film, he has done more than his fair share in Tinseltown.
However, when TV WEEK chats with the Aussie actor, he admits he never intended to move abroad. In fact, the whole idea terrified him.
"I was scared of the idea of coming over here," Rhys, 31, explains down the telephone line from his home in LA.
"I thought it was reserved for other people to do that. It felt so hard."
The fear, perhaps, came from the unknown.
Rhys had just spent three years since 2005 playing Lucas Holden in Home And Away.
The drama gave him a stable job, income and security.
Rhys played Lucas on the show. Image: Channel Seven
As he contemplated the idea of Hollywood, and whether he had what it took to "make it", a familiar name gave him the grounded advice he needed to hear.
"Chris Hemsworth [who starred alongside Rhys in Home And Away] convinced me to come over," he says.
"It felt incredibly hard to do, but he demystified the idea and told me to go for it. He also showed me where I could afford to rent an apartment, and other things to help me out.
"Then, when I arrived, Isabel Lucas [another former Home And Away star] drove me around to places, as I'd run out of accommodation and needed a place to live. I'm forever grateful to them for that."
Now, Rhys tries to do the same for any fellow Aussie expats looking to make their mark in Hollywood – because, as the actor continues, it's not easy or smooth to uproot your entire life.
"At first, you're constantly on the go and everyone is in their own hustle – that's the perception, at least," he says of LA.
"It takes work to find roots here that are similar to Australia. I miss home, so I try to exist in both places psychologically. Although, LA can be customised to what you want it to be."
Rhys' latest role is Reprisal.
While settled in his sun-soaked California Dreaming-style lifestyle, Rhys hasn't lost the hustle in the decade he's been working in the US.
And it's seemingly paid off, with roles in The Purge, True Detective and House Of Lies.
His most recent show, Reprisal, is possibly his best work to date. The gritty thrill-ride centres on a woman, played by Abigail Spencer, and her thirst for revenge on the gang who assaulted her and left her for dead years before.
Rhys plays Matty, the leader of the ragtag gang, whose moral code is far from his own. He may be removed from his cowboy-esque character, but on screen, the transformation is eerily good.
"It's so funny that you describe him like that, because Matty is absolutely a wild ride," Rhys says of his character.
"He has this old-school Western style about him. It's fun to play."
Rhys was nervous about the response to the series. Image: Instagram
We're certainly convinced, but not all audiences are so easily won over.
When Reprisal premiered at the New York Comic-Con event, which can often be the make-or-break of a pilot series, Rhys admits it was a "nail-biting experience".
"Reprisal is completely original, which is what drew me to it, but it has a unique, comic-book vibe," he says.
"So they decided to premiere it at the event. I had never been to anything like it before. I'd been warned the audience can be fairly hostile if they don't like something. They can be a harsh and tough crowd, but the response was fantastic, and to witness it live was even more amazing."
Outside of his own work, Rhys unknowingly has an effect on other careers.
In this particular case, it's two-time Oscar nominee and long-time friend Margot Robbie, of the actor.
WATCH: Relive Chris Hemsworth's time on Home And Away. Story continues below.
In 2019, the Aussie actress won praise for her role as doomed 1960s actress Sharon Tate in the Quentin Tarantino-directed comedy-drama Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
In a full-circle moment, Rhys realises that an eerie night they shared during his early days in Hollywood may have contributed to her success.
"I was about to shoot The Purge and had bought a book called Helter Skelter [about the infamous murders committed by Charles Manson and some of his followers on Cielo Drive, where Sharon was killed] for research. We realised the house in the book wasn't far away, so we decided to check it out.
"It's such a wild and crazy coincidence that Margot ended up playing Sharon. We spoke about it at length recently and how it all worked out in that way."
The actress, of course, was then nominated for BAFTA Award.
"I didn't tell her to mention me if she won, but I bloody well should have!" he jokes, before adding, "We all support each other and it's welcoming to have someone to lean on while chasing your ambition.
"I miss home incredibly, but to have a supportive community around you is everything. And it's even better to see such wild success coming from Australia. It's inspiring."

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