Antipodean actors Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman hit the red carpet in London last night for the premiere of their new film Australia.

The stars were joined by the likes of Sir Elton John, Twiggy and director Baz Luhrmann at the Odeon West End gala for the epic movie.

With a budget of an estimated $125 million (£83 million), the period drama is the most expensive Australian film ever made and has had a stuttering start at the US box office.

But braving the cold in Leicester Square, Kidman said she was hopeful that UK audiences would be receptive to the film's old-fashioned tone.

"I hope people like it and it makes them fall in love with my country," the actress said while signing autographs.

"I hope they realise it's funny and romantic and it's a popcorn movie."

Oscar-nominated director Luhrmann, who was accompanied by his designer wife Catherine Martin, said: "I think there is a special relationship between Australia and England and actually my films were discovered here.

"Strictly Ballroom was discovered in London and it ran for ten weeks at number one, it was so unexpected.

"And here I am back after all these years with this film. It feels good, it really does."

The wartime film sees Kidman as an English heiress who forms an unlikely romance with a stoic cattle drover (Jackman) in order to protect her Outback ranch from a possible takeover.

However, Jackman told reporters he bears little resemblance to the stereotypical masculinity of The Drover.

"He's a pretty classic archetypal male macho Aussie bloke. I'm just like him!" he joked.

"No, there are differences. I'm not that tough. I actually fainted on the very first day of filming so that wasn't very cool. That kind of gave me away a little bit."

Australia is released in the UK on Boxing Day.

11/12/2008 08:42:38