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Luke Bracey’s Guide to Newport, Australia

The Hacksaw Ridge star on his latest blockbuster, his new scent and why home is always in his heart

According to the rugged sight for sore eyes that is actor Luke Bracey, a good day is defined as one where his “search is over” when it comes to finding a signature scent. So just how does the 27 year-old Aussie describe the distinction of not only being named the ambassador for Ralph Lauren’s new Polo Red Extreme cologne, but also fronting its Bruce Weber-shot campaign? “I’m so excited. I’m the lucky one who gets to work with such an iconic brand. Bruce and I get along like a house on fire. He’s a lovely man.”

But to say Bracey’s simply had a good day or two would be an understatement—following the 2016 premiere of and subsequent Oscar buzz surrounding Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson’s WWII drama in which Bracey plays American soldier Smitty Ryker, it’s safe to say the rising star has had a pretty damn good year to date.

Looking at Weber’s Polo Red Extreme campaign, Bracey’s successful transformation into a Hollywood heartthrob is clear (especially to those who first met him as the boyish love interest of Leighton Meester’s character in the 2011 film, Monte Carlo). The actor, who went on to star as Utah in the 2015 thriller Point Break, recognizes onscreen opportunities like the ones he’s had don’t come around that often, perhaps one reason why he says shooting Hacksaw Ridge in his home city of Sydney put him in the same room as “the world’s best in movie making.”

 “I think Andrew [Garfield] is one of the greatest actors of our generation and I think Mel [Gibson] is probably the best storyteller in the world,” Bracey adds. So what, exactly, does one do when he’s surrounded by the very people he admires most? “Act like a bit of a sponge,” Bracey explains. “I tried to soak up as much as I could and learn as much as I could and kind of give it everything I’ve got.”

Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of World War II army medic Desmond T. Doss (Garfield) who, as an American Seventh Day Adventist Christian, refused to carry weapons in the infamous 82-day Battle of Okinawa. Although Bracey’s character isn’t based on one specific individual from that time, the film’s plot is deeply rooted in history and the very real events that inspired it weren’t lost on the actor—a self-proclaimed history buff.

“It doesn’t matter when in history you look at, we’re all still humans.” Bracey says. “We all still have the same desires, and the same issues kind of always come up. In 2017, we can kind of pretend that we’re advanced with all of our technology, but we’re just the same. We’re still the same human beings.”

Like many people, one part of history Bracey admits he would relive if he could is his childhood: He grew up in Newport, a costal suburb of Sydney, that he recalls with sincere affection. “It’s such a beautiful place to be a child. When you move away, like I have for the past six years, you really miss it very much. But I get to go back every summer, normally,” Bracey says. “And my heart’s always there.” For those seeking a suburban escape from Sydney (Newport’s less than an hour away by car), Bracey’s shares a guide to his beloved hometown below. 

Cup of Joe: Zubi Bar—say g’day to Steve!

Power Lunch: The Boathouse Palm Beach.

Cocktail Hour: The Newport

Retail Therapy: [Any area] Ralph Lauren store, of course!

Don’t Miss: Pittwater is a beautiful spot.

Hidden Gem: The bar at Manly Wharf Hotel at sunset.

Photo Credit: Lynda Churilla