Brenton Thwaites is an Australian actor who first came to prominence with his portrayal of Luke Gallagher in the Fox8 teen drama series SLiDE (2011), and later Stu Henderson in the soap opera Home and Away (2011–12). Since moving to the United States, Thwaites has headlined films such as Blue Lagoon: The Awakening (2012), Oculus (2013), and The Giver (2014), the latter, opposite Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep. Thwaites was the lead actor in 2016’s Gods of Egypt, alongside Gerard Butler, and will next star in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, the 2017 installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, as Henry Turner, the son of franchise character William Turner (Orlando Bloom).
1989–2010: Early life
Thwaites was born on 10 August 1989 in Cairns, Queensland, to Fiona and Peter Thwaites. He has a sister, Stacey. He underwent secondary education at Cairns State High School in Far North Queensland, graduating as a senior in 2006.
During his youth, Thwaites was drawn to the idea of becoming a policeman or a firefighter, having been interested in movies involving the latter. However, his interests diverted to the processes of filmmaking and “letting [one’s] personality shine through so many different characters.” At the age of 16, Thwaites made his first performance in front of a live audience in a rendition of the Shakespearean tragedy Romeo and Juliet.
Thwaites studied acting at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) for three years, before graduating in 2010. He then relocated to Sydney to join the long-running soap opera Home and Away before moving to the United States in 2011/12 to pursue his career in acting.
Thwaites cited fellow Australian actors Heath Ledger and Hugh Jackman as inspirations of his, admiring how Ledger “was a young Aussie kid […] who was doing really well overseas” and commending Jackman as “a cool Aussie guy who works very hard and he’s a fantastic actor.” He also found inspiration in comedy actors Robin Williams and Jim Carrey when practicing the American accent.
2010–12: Career beginnings
Prior to graduating from the Queensland University of Technology, Thwaites made his film debut in Charge Over You, a 2010 independent feature film. After he graduated, Thwaites went on to appear in an episode of Sea Patrol and in the short film, Headsmen.
In November 2010, Thwaites, along with Adele Perovic, Ben Schumann, Emily Robins, and Gracie Gilbert, was cast in a new Fox8 Australian teen drama series, SLiDE. The show follows five Brisbane teenagers making their way to adulthood. Thwaites believes his character, Luke Gallagher, “stands back a bit. He watches. He’s struggling with family issues. He’s drawn in as it was a chance to find better friends and an opportunity to be part of a group. He’s a cool, accepted kid. Some friends he can love and help him mature.” Thwaites made his first appearance on SLiDE in the series’ premiere episode on 16 August 2011. The series ran one season.
Shortly after Thwaites moved to Sydney from Cairns in April 2011, he was given a five–month recurring role of Stu Henderson in the 24th season of Home and Away. Thwaites called the show a great learning experience and said his co-stars were easy to work with. Thwaites made his first appearance as Stu, a member of the River Boys, on 23 August 2011. Tristan Swanwick of The Courier-Mail said Thwaites was a “bit too pretty to be a bad-ass River Boy” but that some fake tattoos would balance that impression. Of his character, Thwaites said, “Stu’s awesome, he has some fights, he gets the girls, it’s awesome fun.”
Following Thwaites’ relocation to the United States, he signed on to play the male lead in the 2012 television film Blue Lagoon: The Awakening opposite Australian actress Indiana Evans. The film received generally mixed reviews, with Zap2it praising both Thwaites and Evans’ “(mostly) believable” acting.
In 2013, Thwaites starred in the psychological/supernatural horror film Oculus, as the male lead Tim Russell. Production on the film began in October 2012 in Alabama, and was completed a few weeks later. The film was first released on 5 September 2013, at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, and received a worldwide theatrical release on 11 April 2014. His performance as Russell was well received by Indiewire, which claimed that Thwaites maintained a “credibly frightened demeanor” throughout the film.
In 2014, Thwaites briefly returned to Australia for the filming of crime thriller Son of a Gun. Primarily shot in Perth, Kalgoorlie and Melbourne, Thwaites had to audition for the part of JR “up to 10 times before landing the role.” Regarding his character, Thwaites said, “I jumped at the opportunity to audition when this came up and I found the character was a very vulnerable kid amongst strange men that are in some way an inspiration. I just thought that was interesting as a young man myself.” Thwaites received critical acclaim for his portrayal of JR, with Variety contending that he “makes a suitably keen-eyed, clean-scrubbed lead, retaining a kind of porous naivete even as the character gets his blood up” and The Sydney Morning Herald praising his role as the embattled hero of the plot. The film premiered in Australia on 16 October 2014.
Thwaites appeared in Maleficent as Prince Phillip alongside Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning. Additionally he starred in the William Eubank’s science fiction thriller film The Signal as the male lead, Nic Eastman, opposite Laurence Fishburne and Olivia Cooke. The film opened at the Sundance Festival in January 2014, seven months after shooting on location in the American Southwestern desert of New Mexico. Thwaites received praise by The Plain Dealer, noting that his performance in The Signal was “as a compelling presence in the driver’s seat as things get freakier and freakier around him.”
He also starred in The Giver as one of the male leads, Jonas, beside Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep. Primarily filmed in South Africa, the film was met with generally mixed to negative reviews, with The Telegraph criticising Thwaites’ portrayal for “he [struggled] to give us the layered, conflicted hero this film [needed]”. However, his portrayal was well received by the Huffington Post, who commended Thwaites’ acting and by The Plain Dealer, which noted that the “fast-rising Thwaites…does a nice job with the lead role.” He was awarded the Australians in Film “Breakthrough Award” for his role in The Giver.
Thwaites starred in Alex Proyas’s Gods of Egypt, alongside Gerard Butler and Geoffrey Rush. He played Bek, a human thief. Principal photography on the film began on 20 March 2014 at the Fox Studios in Sydney, Australia, and the film was released worldwide on 26 February 2016.
In late 2014, Thwaites was cast in the fifth instalment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.Thwaites will portray Henry Turner, son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), opposite Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush and Javier Bardem. Shooting of the film commenced in February 2015, on the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia with Disney announcing that it would be released on 7 July 2017.
Following Pirates, Thwaites will have a leading role in the 2017 Christian film, An Interview with God, portraying a young journalist, Paul Asher. In this role, he will star opposite Academy Award-winner David Strathairn.