CBR's Eric Bana Interview

Back in October 2001, Universal Pictures announced that Eric Bana would play the lead role as Dr. Bruce Banner in "The Hulk." The response from fans was a collective, "Who?"
Back in October 2001, Universal Pictures announced that Eric Bana would play the lead role as Dr. Bruce Banner in "The Hulk." The response from fans was a collective, "Who?"

Since then the Australian comedian turned actor has been seen in "Black Hawk Down" and the Oz production that made him famous, "Chopper." On Friday Bana's Hulks-out on screen but will his career Hulk-out as well?

Bana recently left the set of the currently-filming "Troy" (with Brad Pitt starring and Wolfgang Petersen directing) to sit down with the press to talk about "The Hulk." At the roundtable interview, members of the press took turns asking questions about the development of the film. Comics2Film/CBR News is pleased to present this edited transcript of that interview.

Q: How has the fighting been going with co-star Brad Pitt?

Eric Bana (EB): We don't fight until we get to Mexico so we're still getting along. I haven't disfigured Brad Pitt just yet.

Q: So are you in Malta?

EB: We're in Malta at the moment, yeah.

Q: So are you planning on disfiguring him to the point where Jennifer Aniston comes after you?

EB: No. No, I'm sure I'll be chased down from numerous different sources if that were to happen. No, I'm having a really wonderful time.

Q: Are you Hector?

EB: Yes I am.

Q: Were you thrilled when you got that?

EB: Oh yeah. It's quite the role of a lifetime, literally.

Q: Did it make you want to go to the gym?

EB: There's kind of no choice.

Q: It's Hector! He's the ultimate warrior.

EB: Exactly. Yeah, no, there're some very physical elements to it, obviously.

Q: Brad looks a buffed up too.

EB: Yeah, he's been working pretty hard too.

Q: With "Hulk" we've been hearing so much about Ang Lee wanting to have the expressiveness in the Hulk. How was it to have a role where you're going to be up upstaged by your CGI counterpart?

EB: I was fine. It's kind of nice. You're playing the lead but at the same time you're going to shoulder a lot the responsibility with other sources. So, no I was more than fine with that.

Q: Did they tell all along how it was going to look? Did you have a lot of input?

EB: I was privy to it but no, I can't claim any credit for it. I mean, I first met with Ang here on the lot. In his office he had a little stature that he was working on, developing the look of the Hulk but no I really can't lay any claim to any credit to how amazing the special effects are.

Q: Was all that repressed anger pretty hard to act on the screen?

EB: Yeah, look; I think you gotta expect that. I think there's so much there that has to be played for the character to work. I never really expected it to be easy. That was the big attraction for me, to the part, I knew was gonna be a really chunky character role. That's why I wanted to do it.

So that didn't surprise me but you're right. In the end it's gonna be demanding mentally and physically and emotionally, but that's exactly why I wanted to do it.

Q: What kind of pressure did you feel, playing such an iconic role?

EB: I don't really take on too much of that pressure. There's a responsibility of playing such a complex character convincingly was the pressure for me, upon myself. External pressures of whatever was going on outside this building, honestly I wasn't really privy to any of it and was very well sheltered from that.

I don't mind pressure anyway. It's a healthy thing.

Q: Can you give us your vital stats?

EB: I'm just a little bit over six-two. Around two hundred pounds. Brown hair. Brown eyes. Likes the outdoors.

Q: Is it easy to ditch the Australian accent?

EB: It's CGI in the film.

Yeah, in some ways it is. Luckily for me I've a long sketch comedy background back in Australia, so I'm kind of used to it in some respects, but I think if you're gonna come and take jobs it's gotta be perfect.

So yeah, I did. I had a wonderful woman by the name of Susan who helped me a lot on this shoot.

Q: And where are you from? Where did you grow up?

EB: I'm from Melbourne in Australia.

Q: Did your family think you were going to become an actor in America?

EB: To be honest, I don't know what they thought. They encouraged me to be, because since I was a little kid I'd always pretty much done nothing but that: impersonating family and friends and stuff and coming up with characters and playing around like that.

So then when I verbalized the desire to do this as a job, they weren't at all surprised and were very supportive, which was nice. So, it was kind of always an obvious thing to me. It was almost like I didn't really have much choice, because it was kind of the only thing that I felt like I could really do, you know?

Q: Did you get in trouble as a kid doing these things?

EB: It actually got me a lot of currency. It actually got me out of a lot of trouble.

I used to do it a lot at school and teachers would kind of pull me off to the side and say, "OK, you do a good Mr. Larkin. Give it to me."

[I'd say,] "No, no no. No way. I'll get expelled."

"No, no, no. I promise not to tell anybody."

So I'd do it and then four hours later another teacher would call me in, "Do the science teacher. Now."

So actually it was quite helpful.

Q: How old are you now?

EB: I'm 34.

Q: What's your best mimic?

EB: There was a lot of famous people that I could do back on the sketch comedy show but I was probably better known for developing my own characters back home. To me that was to me what was really fun. It's fun mimicking people, but it's also frustrating when your best mimics are people that no one knows.

That's the beauty of sketch comedy is you get to introduce them to the audience and have them get used to it and then they become better known then the famous impressions you do. You know?

Q: Did you do all that in Melbourne or did you go to Sydney?

EB: That job was out of Melbourne.

Q: How did you get noticed over here? Was it "Chopper?"

EB: Yeah, I guess it was. That film really traveled. It was great for me. It did all the film festival circuit and it was almost like every great director got to see it and a lot of interest stemmed from that.

I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to show what I could do in that role.

Q: Is it ironic that you haven't done any comedy?

EB: Yeah, I guess it is. It's perfect.

Here people go, "Comedian? What are you talking about?"

And back home they go, "What do you think you're doing, doing all this leading man stuff?"

So, yeah. It's perfect. It's great.

Q: What did you like about the Banner character?

EB: I guess on a self-indulgent level, as
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