Bryan Brown

Active - 1977 - 2019  |   Born - Jun 23, 1947   |   Genres - Drama, Thriller, Crime, Romance, Adventure

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

With his rugged, everyman exterior and quick wit, Aussie actor Bryan Brown has made an undeniable mark in the world of cinema with unforgettable roles in such efforts as Bruce Beresford's Breaker Morant (1980), the innovative action thriller F/X, and the bottle slingin' bartender drama Cocktail (1988). Although public misconception may be that Brown abandoned the Land Down Under for a film career in Hollywood, the lifelong Australian resident remains true to his homeland despite his status as a popular international film star. A former insurance salesman who was bitten by the acting bug early on, the Sydney native soon found stage work in both his hometown as well as London. His film debut as a lovelorn, mentally ill man in The Love Letters From Teralba Road (1977) soon followed, and after gaining positive critical notice for his performance, Brown appeared in minor capacity in such films as Phillip Noyce's Newsfront and Bruce Beresford's Money Movers before his breakout turn as a supporting player in the searing war drama Breaker Morant. His star on the rise in the early '80s, Brown subsequently appeared in the prison drama Stir before turning up in the acclaimed miniseries The Thorn Birds (1983). The musical drama Give My Regards to Broad Street proved a surprising gem to Paul McCartney and Brown fans alike the following year, and with the release of F/X in 1986, Brown became a bankable international star. The film's innovative use of special effects as a means to drive the plot, combined with a smart script and Brown's natural charisma, resulted in a modest hit that spawned both a sequel and a television series (albeit without him).

After taking the lead in Tai-Pan (1986) and returning to Australia for the relationship drama The Good Wife (1987), Brown took his biggest Hollywood role to date as a veteran bartender opposite Tom Cruise in Cocktail. Although Brown would have little chance to truly shine opposite the Hollywood heavy, he did manage to steal a few scenes and have fun with the role. Shifting gears entirely for Gorillas in the Mist that same year, Brown was once again offered the opportunity to shine in the role of a National Geographic photographer who falls for primate researcher Dian Fossey Sigourney Weaver. Despite the fact that Brown's '80s momentum may not have carried into the '90s as strongly as fans might have hoped, those who did seek out his films found him still very much at the top of his game. From Nicolas Roeg's existential drama Full Body Massage (1995) to the intensely personal Dead Heart (1996), his performances were consistently thought provoking. After expanding his resumé to include producer credits with the 1991 F/X sequel, Brown did his best to bring stories to the screen that he found personally compelling. His association both in front of and behind the scenes of Twisted Tales (a sort of Down Under Twilight Zone meets The X-Files) helped to maintain his high profile in Australia, and, in 1999, Brown appeared opposite hot-Aussie export Heath Ledger in the comedy drama Two Hands. After more starring roles that year, Brown appeared in the sleeper drama Risk and the nuclear drama On the Beach (both 2000). Having been a youngster in 1960 Australia, the retro-gangster comedy Dirty Deeds had special appeal to Brown, and his turn as a Sydney-based crime syndicate leader who draws the ire of a fearsome Chicago crime family offered a fun take of the gangster-chic trend. Although Brown would threaten to take a break from acting following Dirty Deeds, it wasn't long before he was back in front of the cameras for the Ben Stiller comedy Along Came Polly Captured (2004).

Movie Highlights

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