Home And Away (1993-1996)
After working as a model since her early teens, Melissa George landed a high-profile acting role at the tender age of 16. Playing Angel, she resided in Summer Bay for three sweet years, living with ‘flathead’ principal Donald Fisher, and eventually marrying love-of-her-life Shane Parrish.
It couldn’t last forever though, and Shane soon died of septicaemia. Angel then married a rich English bloke and headed to Blighty, taking the hearts of a generation of young soapwatchers with her.
Angelic Aussie? Quintessentially so.
Following her tenure on Home And Away, George landed a support spot in this historical TV show. Heath Ledger (who coincidentally guested on H&A) starred as an Irish prince defending his country from the Romans in the fifth century.
George played Molly: she was found living in a bizarre convent before enjoying a short-lived romance with Ledger’s Conor. The show wasn’t particularly well received in the US, but it earned culty affection around the world.
Angelic Aussie? Even though the show was shot in Australia, George had to garble through an ‘Oh, begorrah’ accent.
Dark City (1998)
After further TV roles in Murder Call, Fable and Hollyweird, George landed her first movie gig in Alex The Crow Proyas’ gloomy sci-fi. Sadly it wasn’t the breakout it could have been, as the film went by nearly unnoticed at US cinemas thanks to a hard-to-market plot and considerable competition in the form of Titanic .
The film has since gained a decent following - and not just because of the nudity – but George doesn’t have the biggest role as May, a glamorous dame who helps John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) on his journey.
Angelic Aussie? She’s playing a slightly more sinister character here, and she handles the American accent well.
The Limey (1999)
After another brief TV appearance in Silk Stalkings, George landed a support role in another well-reviewed but underappreciated cult favourite. Terence Stamp’s charisma busts through an almost ludicrous cockney accent as the Brit in LA on a mission to find out what happened to his now-dead daughter (George).
It’s a story with strong echoes of Get Carter , and it preempts (and betters) recent craggy hard-man pictures like Harry Brown and Gran Torino . Steven Soderbergh, hot off Out Of Sight , directs with enviable panache.
Angelic Aussie? She’s a Brit here, and there’s plenty of mystery in her backstory.
Sugar & Spice (2001)
Next up for George was a spot in this mostly-lame flopcom. It sees a team of five cheerleaders team up to rob a bank in dumb blonde style to raise the money for one of their troupe’s wedding.
Diane (Marley Shelton) and Jack (James Marsden) get engaged, but decide they don’t want to fund the big day with parental handouts. A likeable cast ensure this isn’t a total disaster, but the poor box office meant this didn't do much to help George's profile.
Angelic Aussie? George plays against Home And Away type here, as one of the feistier members of the squad.
Mulholland Drive (2001)
Her next movie couldn’t have been more different, exemplifying her desire to take on edgy material. A Lynch credit on the CV always gives an immeasurable credibility boost, and this was no different, as it became the auteur’s most celebrated movie of the decade.
George plays an aspiring actress with criminal connections, but to try and summarise the movie’s dense, perplexing and inscrutable narrative would be lunacy. Instead, Mulholland... demands to be watched and experienced, again and again…
Angelic Aussie? Certainly not, this is typically dark stuff from the master of the obtuse.
New Port South (2001)
Next up for George was a support role in this forgettable high-school thriller. Set in a fictional Chicago town (as opposed to south Wales), it follows a bunch of students who decide to rebel against school authority.
This doesn’t just involve flouting the uniform code or chewing gum in class; instead it’s a full-scale rebellion in which reports and records are destroyed, with the help of local asylum inmate Michael Shannon.
Angelic Aussie? Quite the opposite.
Despite crafting an extremely solid movie career, George has remained faithful to the medium on which she made her name, returning to the small screen again and again.
Thieves saw her star opposite John Stamos, playing one half of a couple of career criminals who switch sides and help with some FBI investigations to avoid punishment for their former crimes. A victim of the harsh US TV schedules, only 10 episodes of this comedy drama were produced.
Angelic Aussie? She plays a lawbreaking American, so that’d be a no.
Lost In Oz (2002)
George slipped briefly into a bad run of luck, starring in a couple of unaired TV pilots. The first was this Wizard Of Oz re-imagining, in which she played substitute Dorothy figure, Alex.
Her character was caught in a tornado while visiting Kansas and she ended up in the land of Oz, meeting equivalent characters from the original story, like a WW2 pilot with the codename Scarecrow. The series was cancelled before the unaired pilot was even finished. She also appeared in the pilot of Brit-to-US TV remake Coupling.
Angelic Aussie? Who knows?
Following those dud pilots, George landed a small role in one of the most perennially popular shows on TV. She appeared as Molly, AKA ‘the hot nanny’, in two season nine episodes.
She doesn’t have a huge amount to do, as she turns up to look after Ross and Rachel’s baby and gets leered at by the male contingent of the cast. Joey’s seduction efforts come to an abrupt end when he discovers she’s a lesbian though.
Angelic Aussie? There’s nothing to dislike about her character, even if we don’t really get to know her.
Down With Love (2003)
George has a small support role in this surprisingly likeable retro romcom. Aping the ‘60s sex comedies of Doris Day and Rock Hudson, Down... sees Ewan McGregor on a charm offensive as Catcher Block, a caddish journalist out to seduce Renée Zellweger’s feminist icon.
It’s a light, fluffy guilty pleasure, but it’s charming fun if you’re in the mood for it. George has a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role as a flight attendant.
Angelic Aussie? She’s certainly got the looks and the playful attitude to fit into the movie’s glamorous, hyper-stylised vision of the past.
Continuing her trend of appearing in well-known TV shows, George next showed up in an episode of this offbeat detective show. Tony Shalhoub stars as Adrian Monk, a reclusive, OCD-afflicted ‘tec on the path to uncovering a conspiracy.
She plays an understudy who has to step up to the lead role after an actress is killed on stage. The aspiring starlet then becomes the chief suspect in Monk’s investigation.
Angelic Aussie? She’s rocking a sinister vibe here…
L.A. Confidential (2003)
Another unlucky small screen pilot for George, this was actually shot in 1999 but only aired some three years later. It was intended as a HBO series, but negotiations stalled and Fox ended up airing the pilot.
George played Lynn Bracken, the role made famous by an Oscar-snaring Kim Basinger in the original movie adaptation. The logic of remaking Curtis Hanson’s superlative take on James Ellroy’s novel still baffles.
Angelic Aussie? Hardly, but you’ll know that already if you’ve seen the movie.
George added to her strong TV CV with a guest role in a two-episode arc of the popular supernatural fantasy series. In Valhalley Of The Dolls, the witchy sisters face problems from Valhalla, the mythical land of the Norse afterlife.
Valhalla is ruled by Valkyries, a breed of Amazonian warrior women who wander about clad in modesty-affronting armour and talking in breathy, ethereal tones. George plays Freyja, one such Valkyrie.
Angelic Aussie? She puts her statuesque form to striking use here.
George landed a role on JJ Abrams’ espionage series, appearing as Lauren Reed over the course of series three and four. Lauren is the wife of Michael Vaughn, and she has a frosty relationship with his ex, Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner).
The three work together in the same CIA office, but Lauren’s innocent exterior belies a deceptive core, as she’s later revealed to be a highly-trained double agent working for The Covenant.
Angelic Aussie? Once again she’s subverting her appearance to dramatic effect.
The Amityville Horror (2005)
George co-starred with Ryan Reynolds in this Platinum Dunes-produced remake of the 1979 chiller. Unlike the production company’s previous horror redo ( The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ), Amityville… didn’t come bearing the weight of such hallowed source material.
It’s actually George and Reynolds who prove to be among the movie’s most effective weapons, adding some weight to the often hokey scares. Chloe Moretz also shows up as one of the couple’s young children.
Angelic Aussie? She heads up the perfect family before it succumbs to the haunted house.
This limp thriller starred Clive Owen as an ad exec whose life slowly goes down the toilet after he almost has an affair with Jennifer Aniston’s comely commuter. Before they can seal the proverbial deal, the amorous couple are set upon by Vincent Cassel’s cackling con man.
Melissa George is saddled with the whingey wife role, left to look after the couple’s sickly child while Owen is out gallivanting with her erstwhile Friends co-star.
Angelic Aussie? She’s more of an irritating harridan here…
Two Twisted (2006)
George returned to her home soil for a one-off appearance in this Australian mystery anthology series. Bryan Brown produced and narrated the series, which could be reductively described as The Twilight Zone down under.
Here she stars as an author who uncovers mystery while searching for a missing sock. The episodes, which were written by untested talent and created on a tight schedule, were aired in tenuously linked pairs.
Angelic Aussie? After a long spell working in the US, she was back on the beach and using her own accent again.
Paradise Lost (2006)
This so-so horror sees a bunch of hedonistic tourists (some British, some American, one Australian, all sexy) travelling through Brazil, before getting caught up in a gruesome nightmare.
Coming across as slightly less grisly than its Hostel / Wolf Creek stablemates, this has a vaguely interesting political streak which is blasted into the background in favour of Into The Blue director John Stockwell’s penchant for bikinis.
Angelic Aussie? Definitely… at least before the organ-harvesting antics begin.
Music Within (2007)
The ever-likeable Ron Livingston ( Office Space ) stars as Richard Pimentel, a man who became a campaigner for disabled rights after losing his hearing in Vietnam.
He’s flanked by an impressive supporting cast: Michael Sheen gives a committed turn as a friend with cerebral palsy, while George makes for an extremely appealing love interest.
Angelic Aussie? Much like the movie itself, it’s hard not to fall for her sincere charm.
This typographically troublesome Brit horror brings together an eclectic cast for an intriguing premise: a vicious cycle is forcing victims to murder their loved ones in order to save their own lives.
There’s enough of the red stuff to please genre fans, but it’s also interesting enough to hook those who like their horror with a (metaphorical) smattering of brains. Stellan Skarsgård is the craggy cop on the case, and George is effective as his driven assistant.
Angelic Aussie? Glam-free, she’s playing it deadly serious here.
30 Days Of Night (2007)
Another lead role in a notable horror followed in the form of this graphic novel adaptation. George is Stella, the estranged wife of Josh Hartnett’s Sheriff Eben Oleson. The fang-sharp premise sees the couple, and the remainder of the inhabitants of an Alaskan town, under threat from vampires during the annual month-long blackout.
The vamps themselves, led by a wonderfully frightful Danny Huston, are imbued with a welcome animalistic menace, resulting in a relentlessly enjoyable action horror.
Angelic Aussie? This is about as far away from Summer Bay as she has been.
In Treatment (2008)
George added yet another credit to her ‘quality telly’ back catalogue, with a recurring role in the first series of the Gabriel Byrne-starring psychologist-drama. The commendably ambitious plot sees Byrne’s Dr Paul Weston meeting a different patient every night of the week (until he sees his own shrink on Fridays).
It’s admittedly a big ask of the viewer, but it rewards patience. George’s character, an anaesthesiologist obsessed with Paul, is in session on Monday. Mia Wasikowska also appeared as a teenage patient.
Angelic Aussie? She’s continuing to explore her troubled side here…
The Betrayed (2008)
Melissa George stepped up to the lead role in this suspense thriller. She plays a happily married mother who discovers that her husband might not be all that he seems.
She learns this in a pretty unceremonious manner, as she’s kidnapped, brutalised and offered the chance to kill her rogue hubbie to save the life of her son.
Angelic Aussie? Trading in her blond locks, she proves herself to be a resourceful action hero. Casting directors should cash in on this side of her more often.
Greys Anatomy (2008-2009)
More TV for George, as she appeared in a short-lived run during the fifth series of the smash-hit medical melodrama. She turned up somewhat randomly as Sadie, a friend from Meredith’s past who appears as an intern at Seattle Grace.
She caused a lot of tension during her brief stay (flirting with Callie, volunteering her appendix for unnecessary surgery), but the character never feels fully formed, possibly as a result of George’s tenure being cut from 11 episodes to eight.
Angelic Aussie? The accent’s hard to place (it's a result of George's own country-hopping), but she’s a troublemaker through and through.
This tricksy psychological spooker features one of George’s most impressive performances to date. Even those distractingly short shorts can’t detract from her on-fire turn as put-upon mother Jess.
She takes a break from caring for her autistic son by going on a boat trip, only to get caught up in an electrical storm and board a mysterious ship that forces her to relive a bizarre scenario over and over.
Angelic Aussie? Only as far as those shorts and that beach hair go.
U.S. Attorney (2009)/Second Chances (2010)
After making waves with her superb turn in Triangle , George unfortunately appeared in a couple of forgettable TV movies next. Obama administration story U.S. Attorney came with a Hollywood director at least: Mimi Leder previously helmed Deep Impact and The Peacemaker .
Second Chances gave her more of an opportunity to push herself. She plays Kate Fischer, a journalist who unwittingly interviewed a serial killer before he struck again. Trying to pick up the pieces of her life, she becomes a college tutor, but she soon discovers that someone is harbouring a dangerous grudge against her.
Aussie Angel? She’s still showing a predilection for troubled characters.
Lie To Me (2010)
After a disappointing pair of TV movies, George bounced back with an appearance in another top telly show. Lie To Me stars Tim Roth as Dr Cal Lightman, a psychologist with an uncanny ability to read body language and suss out who’s telling the truth. Unsurprisingly, he flogs his skills to various law enforcement agencies.
George appeared as Clara in three episodes. Lightman is called in to investigate after she’s accused of the murder of her much older (not to mention incredibly wealthy) husband.
Aussie Angel? Lightman will be able to assess her true intentions.
Swinging With The Finkels (2010)
Melissa George is back in UK cinemas this week in Swinging With The Finkels , a sexed-up comedy starring future Bilbo Baggins Martin Freeman. The Finkels (Freeman and Mandy Moore) are finding that their sex life lacks zip, so they decide to open up their relationship…
George gives broad comedy a shot as the underappreciated wife of Freeman’s boorish best mate. The film opens on Friday 17 June 2011.
Aussie Angel? She looks like she had fun going full-on trashy for this role.