Aussies star in US pilot season

If you could bottle whatever they're putting in the water in Summer Bay, it would be worth its weight in gold.

The fictional coastal community where long-running Seven Network drama Home and Away is set is known for sun, surf and bronzed bodies. It also has an unblemished record in churning out Hollywood stars.

In the past month no less than five former Home and Away actors – Luke Mitchell, Bob Morley, Chris Egan, Lincoln Lewis and Luke Bracey – have booked high-profile gigs in US television pilots.

They join a stellar cast of Home and Away alumni, including Julian McMahon, Melissa George, Chris Hemsworth, Simon Baker, Guy Pearce, Ryan Kwanten, Isla Fisher and Dannii Minogue and Naomi Watts.

Mitchell played Romeo Smith in the drama, a role for which he won the most popular new male talent TV Logie Award in 2010.

Last month he was cast as the lead in the new US remake of the British science fiction series The Tomorrow People for the US network the CW.

Morley played Drew Curtis in Home and Away. He has also had roles in Neighbours and the films Blinder and Road Train.

Last month Morley was cast as one of the leads in a new science fiction series for the CW, The Hundred, about a group of juvenile delinquents aboard a prison space ship who return to Earth after a cataclysm.

Meanwhile, Chris Egan, who played Nick Smith in Home and Away, has landed a lead role in the pilot Gothica.

The ABC network's Gothica is one of the most talked about US pilots this year. It will feature a mash-up of gothic literature including Frankenstein, Dracula and Jekyll and Hyde. Egan will play Dorian Gray.

Emma Booth, who starred in Underbelly: The Golden Mile and Cloudstreet, has also been cast in Gothica.

Lewis, the son of former rugby league star Wally Lewis, played Geoff Campbell in Home and Away between 2007 and 2010.

He has been cast in Westside, a US television pilot based on the story of Romeo and Juliet, which focuses on "two rival families, the Nances and the Carvers, and a forbidden and dangerous romance emerging between them as the families battle for control of the city".

The pilot was originally to be titled Venice.

Bracey, who played Trey Palmer in Home and Away in 2009, will play Chris Carver, the "Romeo" role in Westside. Lewis will play his brother.

Two more Aussies have also landed gigs in new pilots.

Rachel Griffiths will star in the new NBC series Camp.

Camp will be filmed in Australia, and a large part of its cast will be Australian. Rush star Rodger Corser has secured a lead role, as well as three relatively unknown Australian actors - Dena Kaplan, Tim Pocock and Tom Green.

Meanwhile, Rachael Taylor has signed on for a 20th Century Fox drama, which is still untitled.

It is described as a political thriller and will also star former X-Files actress Gillian Anderson.

Every January and February the US networks cast more than 70 drama and comedy pilots, from which perhaps only a few dozen will get the green light.

The successful pilots, and some that are undecided, are screened to international programmers every May at a week-long event known as the "May screenings".

Australians have historically batted above their weight during pilot season, and in Hollywood in general, but 2013's pilot season seems especially generous.

Australian actress Miranda Otto has been cast in one of the lead roles in the US remake of Rake.

That project will star Greg Kinnear in the role made famous by Richard Roxburgh, "a brilliant but self-destructive defence lawyer". Otto will play his wife.

Another Australian actor, Bojana Novakovic, will play his mistress, Mikki, a smart, high-priced prostitute.

Meanwhile, Oscar darling Jacki Weaver has landed a role in a new comedy, The McCarthys, for CBS.

She will play Marjorie McCarthy, the matriarch of a sports-crazed Irish-Catholic Boston family.

Australian comedian Rebel Wilson is starring in Super Fun Night, a pilot for the ABC network. Wilson is also the writer and producer of the project.

Former Neighbours actress Adelaide Kane has landed the lead role in Reign, in which she will play Mary, Queen of Scots, as a 15-year-old "warrior queen". Reign is also for the CW.

A veteran of several US television and film projects, Toni Collette has been cast in the lead role of Hostages, a pilot for the CBS network from Jerry Bruckheimer.

The pilot is based on an unproduced series from Israel.

Collette will play a Washington surgeon whose connection to the US president leaves her family in danger.

Finally, Meegan Warner and Daniel Henshall have both landed roles in a new pilot, Turn, for the US cable channel AMC. Turn is set in 1778 and tells the story of America's Revolutionary War.

Henshall is best known for playing serial killer John Bunting in the film Snowtown.

Warner had roles in the Nine drama Rescue Special Ops and the ABC's Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo.

The story Aussies star in US pilot season first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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