David Wenham is a versatile, red-haired actor whose chameleon-like ability to disappear into his characters has found him successful in everything from large-scale epics to intimate domestic dramas. His success on the stages of his native Australia eventually led him to international success thanks to roles in such acclaimed features as Moulin Rouge (2001) and the final two entries in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The youngest of seven siblings, Wenham was raised in Merrickville, Australia. The aspiring actor honed his craft at the University of Western Australia before making an impression on television audiences with a role in the popular small-screen drama Sons and Daughters in the mid-'80s. As the '90s rolled in, so did the film roles, and after a memorable turn as an embittered ex-convict in the stage play The Boys, Wenham landed parts in such features as Greenkeeping (1992) and the Hollywood sci-fi action film No Escape. In 1996, he found critical acclaim when he transferred his role as a pyromaniac in Cosi from stage to screen. After taking on a handful of small film and television parts, Wenham once again reprised a theater role with the release of The Boys in 1998. His big-screen portrayal of the explosive ex-convict who returns home after a short sting in prison found Wenham the darling of Australian critics.
With a popular role in the 1998 Australian Broadcasting Company series SeaChange, Wenham earned a reputation as a reluctant sex symbol, as well as a nomination at the Australian Film Institute Awards. The following year, he took on the role of a philanthropic priest attempting to console lepers in Molokai: The Story of Father Damien, once again earning an AFI nomination for Best Actor. Though subsequent performances in Better Than Sex (2000) and Russian Doll (2001) earned Wenham even more critical acclaim overseas, it was his role as a transvestite playwright in director Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge that gave the rising star his first true taste of international success. By this time, it was clear that Wenham could carry a film, and with his turn as a mathematics wizard with an innovative plan for predicting the stock market in The Bank, he proved this once and for all. In 2002, he followed a supporting performance in The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course with a role as a heroin dealer in Pure. Later that same year, Wenham truly found an international audience when he joined the hugely successful The Lord of the Rings franchise as Faramir in its second installment, The Two Towers. 2003 proved an exhaustive year for the increasingly busy actor, as he starred in the Australian slice-of-life miniseries After the Deluge and the crime comedy Gettin' Square, for which he won the AFI award for Best Actor. Wenham then returned to the role of Faramir in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, making an even greater impression with more emotional scenes and screen time. By then, Wenham was a recognizable international talent, and following a pair of Australian television appearances, he turned up alongside Hugh Jackman in the 2004 action fantasy Van Helsing.