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Why are there so many celebrities in Australia right now | Sigourney Weaver, Sam Rockwell, Zac Efron, Sacha Baron Cohen, Natalie Portman, Nicole Kidman and more | Explainer


Travel may be off the books for many this year due to the pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped this celebrity set from travelling to Australia.

Many film and TV productions are taking place in Australia in 2020 and 2021 –– thanks to our relatively low number of COVID-19 cases, as well as our government’s $400 million Location Incentive which is designed to encourage film productions to film here.

READ MORE: What is Holly Valance doing now?

There’s a disproportionately high number of big-name celebs who have come Down Under for work, some of them even choosing to buy a property and settle down.

Why will Sigourney Weaver be in Australia?

Celebrities, have not won Oscars, Sigourney Weaver
Sigourney Weaver arrives at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (WireImage)

Sigourney Weaver is due to land in the land Down Under later this year, where she will star in and executive produce an original Amazon Prime drama The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart.

Based on the international best-selling debut novel by Australian author Holly Ringland, the series will explore the story of a young girl, Alice Hart, who lives with trauma as an adult due to her violent childhood. Hart’s story will be told across seven parts.

READ MORE: Why Sigourney Weaver in Alien is still a great feminist icon 40 years later

Australian talent seems to be the cornerstone of the production team, with writer Sarah Lambert (Lambs of Gods) adapting the novel for the screen and acting as series showrunner, while Glendyn Ivin (The Cry) is set to direct and Emmy winner Bruna Papandrea (Penguin Bloom) will produce. 

Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver
Actors Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver attend the Avatar Los Angeles premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on December 16, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (WireImage)

Weaver is no stranger to working with Aussie stars, with her notably acting alongside Sam Worthington in James Cameron‘s Avatar franchise.

READ MORE: First Ghostbusters: Afterlife trailer brings ghostbusting to the country

Most recently, the 71-year-old science fiction action heroine pioneer starred as Margaret in My Salinger Year, has wrapped filming Ghostbusters: Afterlife and is currently filming drama Call Jane

Why is Sam Rockwell in Australia?

Sam Rockwell and Leslie Bibb. (AAP)
Actor Sam Rockwell and wife Leslie Bibb on the Oscars red carpet.

Oscar-winning actor Sam Rockwell was spotted with his wife, actress Leslie Bibb, 46, at Little Bang Brewery, a local bar in Adelaide over the weekend. 

The 52-year-old Jojo Rabbit star’s reasons for being in Adelaide are currently unknown, however, Bibb has been filming Netflix‘s God’s Favourite Idiot with Melissa McCarthy in Lismore, New South Wales — just outside of Byron Bay.

READ MORE: ‘That wasn’t written in…it was so awkward’: Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer are the unlikely superheroes we all need 

An Adelaide local told The Advertiser that the couple stayed at the brewery for several hours and were very patient and kind to fans.

Why are Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen in Australia?

Colin Farrell
Colin Farrell attends a photocall for The Lobster during the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 15, 2015 in Cannes, France. (Getty)

Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen touched down in Sydney in March 2021 to undergo two weeks of quarantine.

They later travelled to Queensland to begin shooting Ron Howard’s upcoming film Thirteen Lives, a story about the rescue of 12 young boys and their soccer coach after they were trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand in June 2018.

READ MORE: Colin Farrell files for conservatorship of son with Angelman syndrome alongside ex Kim Bordenave

Howard himself arrived in Australia in January, and the movie is being filmed in the Gold Coast hinterland.

Why is Tilda Swinton in Australia?

Tilda Swinton attends the opening ceremony and screening of "The Dead Don't Die" during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 2019 in Cannes, France.
Tilda Swinton attends the opening ceremony and screening of The Dead Don’t Die during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 2019 in Cannes, France. (WireImage)

Tilda Swinton has been in Sydney since January to film her scenes for upcoming fantasy film Three Thousands Years of Longing. Filming began in November 2020, and is ongoing. 

Directed by Mad Max‘s George Miller, it’s about a ‘lonely and bitter British woman’ who encounters a Djinn during a trip to Istanbul. It also stars Idris Elba.

READ MORE: Idris Elba joins Sydney band Lime Cordiale on stage for a surprise show

The duo have often been seen out and about around the set in Sydney’s northern suburbs, with Swinton having been spotted in the eastern suburbs as well.

Why is Julia Roberts in Australia?

Julia Roberts is quarantining in Sydney. (Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Julia Roberts has made her way Down Under to begin filming the political thriller Gaslit, which is about the Watergate scandal, in Sydney.

She arrived via private jet with her husband and three kids in early March, and they underwent quarantine in a home north of the city.

READ MORE: Dan Stevens joins Julia Roberts, Sean Penn in Watergate series Gaslit at Starz, taking over Armie Hammer role

The 53-year-old Pretty Woman star, her 52-year-old cinematographer husband and her children have not been spotted out and about since, but the family are said to be staying in a luxury private estate in the Hawkesbury region. 

Apparently, Nicole Kidman helped her get situated in Australia. According to The Daily Telegraph, Kidman “donated her personal security team and a band of handlers to help smooth the process”.

READ MORE: George Clooney and Julia Roberts’ Ticket to Paradise to be filmed in Queensland

Her co-stars on Gaslit include Sean Penn and Australian Joel Edgerton.

Roberts is also set to film a romantic comedy, Ticket to Paradise, with George Clooney in the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland later this year.

Why is Kylie Minogue in Australia?

Kylie Minogue begs Brits to head down under in the 2019 Tourism Australia ad campaign. (PA/AAP)

Kylie Minogue has been living in the UK for the majority of her career, but returned home at the end of January and completed her mandatory hotel quarantine in Melbourne.

It doesn’t seem like she’s returned to work, but maybe just to escape the strict lockdowns going on back in London. She’s definitely leaning into the Aussie summer lifestyle, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing backyard cricket.

READ MORE: Kylie Minogue reignites rumours she secretly married her boyfriend Paul Solomons

She recently attended music producer Michael Gudinski’s private funeral, alongside sister Dannii Minogue.

Why was Luke Evans in Australia?

Luke Evans
Luke Evans was loving life in Australia, pictured here on a beach in December. (Instagram)

Luke Evans arrived in Australia last November to film Nine Perfect Strangers in Byron Bay, and seemed to be having a great time exploring the country, spending time in Sydney and its surrounds. He returned to London in late April 2021.

The 42-year-old Beauty and the Beast star did his mandatory two weeks of quarantine on arrival: “I can’t see anyone for two weeks,” he told Variety at the time.

READ MORE: Nine Perfect Strangers trailer: Nicole Kidman, Regina Hall and Melissa McCarthy lead TV drama

“I have to be tested every other day. Everything is going to be delivered to my room and I have to stay in a room in Australia and not leave it for two weeks just so that we can then be free to go and shoot something.”

After quarantine, he did his fair share of travel around the country, posting a lot of photos from Bondi, Byron and the Blue Mountains. There are rumours he’s been dating a Sydney investment banker, which is what was keeping him in the city.

Why is Rita Ora in Australia?

Rita Ora is in Australia (Instagram)

After facing backlash for throwing a birthday party during London’s strict lockdown, Rita Ora jetted to Australia ahead of her performance at Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in March and her stint as a judge on The Voice.

READ MORE: Rita Ora wows crowds with performance at Sydney Mardi Gras

She quarantined for two weeks in a Sydney hotel before beginning to film –– and many Australians who are ‘stranded’ overseas were upset that she was able to ‘jump the queue’ to enter the country.

The 30-year-old songstress seems to have been enjoying her time on our sunburnt plains, having been spotted soaking up the sun at Bondi Beach and attending the Sydney premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under with Taika Waititi, fuelling dating rumours between the pair.

Why is Matt Damon in Australia?

Celebrities, love living, Byron Bay, Matt Damon
Chris Hemsworth and Matt Damon in Byron Bay last year. (Instagram)

Matt Damon, along with his wife and three kids, touched down in Australia on January 18, ahead of his role in the upcoming Marvel film Thor: Love and Thunder.

READ MORE: Chris Hemsworth, Idris Elba and Matt Damon attend ’80s themed birthday party in Australia

Damon’s family underwent their 14-day quarantine in New South Wales and have taken up Australian residency amid the film’s production.

“I’m so excited that my family and I will be able to call Australia home for the next few months,” the actor said in a statement.

READ MORE: Matt Damon’s lawyer explains how the actor’s family is handling move to Australia

“Australian film crews are world-renowned for their professionalism and are a joy to work with so the 14 days of quarantine will be well worth it. Australia definitely is the lucky country, and I can’t wait to show my family Australia’s down to earth people, breathtaking scenery and diverse culture.”

Matt Damon has offered his two cents on Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez reconciliation rumours.
Matt Damon has offered his two cents on Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez reconciliation rumours from a TAB in an Australian pub. (Twitter)

The Good Will Hunting actor made waves when he addressed Today from what appeared to be a TAB in an Australian pub.

Why was Paul Mescal in Australia?

Normal People
Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal as Marianne and Connell in the TV show Normal People. (Stan)

Earlier this year, Normal People star Paul Mescal was casually spotted in areas around NSW, from counting eggs at the supermarket to spending a day at the beach.

READ MORE: Normal People star Paul Mescal talks Emmys and emailing with Hugh Jackman

According to one Twitter user, he was also seen on Tinder in Sydney.

The Irish-born actor was in Australia to film the upcoming movie adaptation of opera Carmen in Broken Hill, New South Wales, and will play the male lead role Aidan. Filming wrapped in early March. The film’s location was originally slated to occur in Mexico and LA.

Why was Mark Wahlberg in Australia?

Mark Wahlberg brings famous fast food chain to Australia
Mark Wahlberg has brought his famous fast-food chain to Australia. (Supplied)

Mark Wahlberg revealed his plans to move his family to Australia after expanding his fast-food empire, Wahlburgers.

“Hopefully I will be able to move my family down to Australia for four, five months,” he told Today entertainment reporter Richard Wilkins in January this year.

“To make a movie on the Gold Coast and enjoy, you know, the beautiful country.”

READ MORE: How Mark Wahlberg gained nearly 10kg in three weeks

Wahlberg previously touched down in Australia in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, however despite having to quarantine, the blockbuster star had all but positive reviews.

“I was hoping to spend more time, but fortunately I was able to see wonderful people,” he said. “I was able to do some really cool projects and more importantly, create a great partnership with the Mustaca family.”

Why is Natalie Portman in Australia?

Chris Hemsworth, Taika Waititi, Natalie Portman, Comic-Con
Chris Hemsworth, director Taika Waititi and Natalie Portman promote Thor: Love and Thunder at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2019. (Getty)

Natalie Portman has been seen out and about all around Sydney since the second half of 2020. She arrived in September with her husband and child and, after a two-week hotel quarantine, settled down in Sydney.

She’s here to film the upcoming Marvel film Thor: Love and Thunder, and has been seen arriving on set at Fox Studios. The movie will also star Chris Hemsworth, Russel Crowe and Chris Pratt.

READ MORE: Chris Hemsworth shares Thor throwback with Tom Hiddleston to celebrate 10-year anniversary

Recently, Portman was spotted having brunch with her parents in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. She has also apparently been looking at houses in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley with her husband.

Why are Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher in Australia?

Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher Golden Globes
Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher speak at the 2021 Golden Globes via video link. They could not attend in-person as they are in Australia. (Arena)

Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher have been spotted in Sydney, enrolling their three kids in a local school here. Fisher grew up in Perth, but moved to Sydney to begin her career –– which is where she met Cohen back in 2002.

It seems as though the couple moved to Australia after Fisher was cast in an upcoming animated Netflix film called Back To The Outback, starring other local actors including Eric Bana, Keith Urban, Tim Minchin and Celeste Barber.

READ MORE: Eric Bana stars in new crime-drama podcast with Magda Szubanski

The Home And Away actress has in the past mentioned her desire to settle down back home in Australia.

“I have this secret fantasy of slowing down, moving to Byron Bay, getting off the grid and sitting on the sand with a Vegemite sandwich,” she told Marie Claire in 2018.

Why is Kate Walsh in Australia?

Kate Walsh has been in Perth, Western Australia for the past five months
Kate Walsh has been in Perth, Western Australia since March 2020. (Instagram)

Kate Walsh has been in Perth, Western Australia, since March 2020. The former Grey’s Anatomy star intended to stay on our shores for a short holiday, but the pandemic changed her plans significantly.

“I was down in Margaret River and then there was a lockdown. I got a little place up here in Perth and that’s where I am,” she told 9Honey Celebrity in March 2020.

READ MORE: Where is Kate Walsh and what is she doing now?

“And I have to say, I love it. I really love Perth. I love the city, I love the people and I feel very, very fortunate, obviously, to have quarantined there and be in WA during this kind of crazy time in the world.”

But Walsh isn’t in a hurry to return to her New York apartment just yet — she’s too busy enjoying the odd AFL match, plus she sees Perth’s production potential and would love to build a studio and film a project there. 

READ MORE: Kate Walsh speaks about the possibility of returning to Grey’s Anatomy

“One of the first thoughts I had when I looked around Perth was, ‘Why aren’t we shooting movies and television here?'” said Walsh, who has already extended her visa once.

Kate Walsh wore a Fremantle Dockers scarf at the AFL Western Derby
Kate Walsh wore a Fremantle Dockers scarf at the AFL Western Derby. (Instagram)

“So I’ve been quite passionate and vocal about trying to get that happening. To have a proper studio, so we have access to some of the great international productions that are coming to Australia at large now.”

Why is Zac Efron in Australia?

Zac Efron
Zac Efron was first spotted in Byron Bay in June. (Getty Images for IMDb)

Although he recently broke up with his Aussie girlfriend, Zac Efron seems to be making no plans to leave our shores anytime soon.

Fans squealed with delight when news swept social media that the Hollywood heartthrob was in Australia. The actor was first spotted in the NSW coastal town of Byron Bay in June 2020, with diners noticing him at a local cafe

READ MORE: Everything we know about Zac Efron and Vanessa Valladares’ breakup

“Don’t mean to alarm anyone but Zac Efron was literally eating at the same cafe as me when this was taken,” influencer Tarsha Whitmore captioned a June 18 Instagram photo from The General Store cafe.

It turns out Efron didn’t come here film a movie or project — it appears he just chose Australia to ride out the coronavirus pandemic. But after just a few months in the country, he was cast in the upcoming Stan original series Gold, which was being filmed in Adelaide.

READ MORE: Zac Efron and Russell Crowe to star in film adaptation of memoir The Greatest Beer Run Ever

Locals have spotted him around the city, in trendy bars and buying a pair of RM Williams boots.

Before filming South Australia, Efron spent months living in Byron Bay with reports he’ll follow Chris Hemsworth‘s lead and buy a property there. He is currently filming his Netflix series Down to Earth across the country.

READ MORE: Zac Efron’s younger brother Dylan arrives in Australia, spending quarantine in Sydney

The High School Musical star has long been a fan of Australia, gushing to AAP in 2012, “What I love about Australia, which is what we don’t have in California, is there are so many wide open beaches where no-one is at.”

Why are Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy in Australia?

Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy
Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy wrap up Nine Perfect Strangers. (Instagram)

With the stars all descending to the Southern Highlands in New South Wales, the region may as well rename itself Hollywood.

Leading the way is Nicole Kidman, who stars and produces the mini-series Nine Perfect Strangers, which was filmed in the region as well as in Byron Bay. 

READ MORE: Everything we know about the Nine Perfect Strangers TV show

The Aussie actress arrived back home in Australia in early 2020 with husband Keith Urban and daughters Sunday and Faith.

Kidman’s co-producer, Melissa McCarthy, is also Down Under with her family as she prepares to play Frances, the show’s protagonist.

Melissa McCarthy wound up in hospital after an unfortunate spider bite.
Melissa McCarthy wound up in hospital in Australia after an unfortunate spider bite. (Instagram)

McCarthy was seen in Byron Bay — another of the show’s filming locations — on August 9 2020, one day before filming commenced.

McCarthy is also joining the Thor: Love and Thunder cast as an actress playing Cate Blanchett‘s Hela. The fourth Thor installment has been filming in New South Wales.

READ MORE: Melissa McCarthy had to go to hospital after getting bitten by a spider in Australia: ‘All the bugs and creatures will kill you’

Also set to star in the series is Bobby Cannavale. The New Jersey-born actor and his Aussie wife, actress Rose Bryne, were also seen with their sons in Byron Bay ahead of filming. Welsh actor Luke Evans was also filming in Australia, but has since returned home.

Also filming in Australia for Nine Perfect Strangers was Michael Shannon, Regina Hall, Manny Jacinto, Tiffany Boone, Melvin Gregg, Grace Van Patten, Asher Keddie and Samara Weaving.

READ MORE: Asher Keddie lands major role alongside Nicole Kidman in TV adaptation of popular book

The eight-part series revolves around nine Aussies who spend 10 days together at a remote health retreat in the bush — Kidman plays a mysterious Russian woman named Masha, who runs the retreat.

The project sees the actress team up with her Big Little Lies co-producer Bruna Papandrea and novelist Liane Moriarty, who wrote both Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers.  

READ MORE: Nicole Kidman poses with Melissa McCarthy after filming wraps in Byron Bay for Nine Perfect Strangers

“We can’t wait to introduce you to #NinePerfectStrangers,” Kidman wrote on Instagram as she and Moriarty brainstormed over coffee. 

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