Exclusive DVD Interview : Eric Bana


Talks to Clint Morris about “Munich” and more

Its hard to believe that just a few short years we were all laughing into drinks upon hearing the news that TV comic Eric Bana – who, at that time, was most famous for his endless array of characters on TV’s “Full Frontal” – had been cast in the lead role in a biopic about infamous Australian crook, Mark Brandon ‘Chopper’ Read. It was Bana who had the last laugh though, as he’s now one of the worlds most respected and seemingly in-demand actors – chalking up lead roles in the likes of Black Hawk Down, The Hulk and Troy. His latest film, the controversial Munich, is Steven Spielberg’s take on the unpleasant incident at the 1972 Olympics where 11 Israeli athletes were murdered. In this exclusive chat, Bana talks to CLINT MORRIS about the film (now on DVD), fame and his first love, football.

You’re heading back to Australia for a film, I hear, Romulus, My Father? What interested you about that?
Primarily, first and foremost, it’s just a really, really great script. Not only is it a chance for me to go home, but I can relate to the storyline of the film in a lot of different ways too.

Is it good to be heading home to make a movie?
Always. It’s a bonus. Sadly, it’s not always the case…. but it’s a wonderful bonus. It’s never enough on it’s own, because there’s just no work here, but I was lucky in this case to find something that I love.

Do you usually get back home between movies?
Yeah, I usually get time off between each gig.

I know you’re a big fan of sports, so do you head straight to the cricket or footy when you get back in the country?

So who you barracking for these days, then? [Laughs]Come on mate these days! [Laughs]
You think I’m one of these people who changes their team based on who’s on top!

I was sure I’d heard that about you – whoever was on top was your team. [Laughs]
F%&k off. [Laughs] Mate, you know I’ve been a Saints supporter since the day I was born! I go to every game when I’m in town, and since I was about 5, I’ve been going to Moorabbin. So, yep, I’m a financial dyed-in-the-wool hardcore Saints supporter. You know that!

Do they show AFL in the states where you are?
Ah, I don’t know actually. I just get tapes sent to me (from Australia) to wherever I’m shooting. The last few days of Munich were filmed in New York though, and it just so happened that that’s when the Grand Final was on, so I threw a Grand Final party at an Australian bar.

Big night?
Well, not for me. But it was a big night, none the less.

Let’s get to “Munich”. How much did you know about the events of the film before you signed on?
I knew a little bit, but then obviously had a good chunk of time to do some homework before we started shooting. I had about two years between signing on and the time we started shooting actually.

So how did this come about, Spielberg called you out of the blue?
He did yeah! I was just finishing up on Troy, and I got a call saying he wanted to have lunch and a chinwag, but I didn’t know what it was about. I had no idea that he had me in mind for a project. During lunch, he started telling me about this film, and this character…. and I walked away scratching my head thinking ‘I think I just got offered a job’.

Were you a fan of Spielberg’s work?
Yeah. Like pretty much most of my generation, I was bought up on most of his films; he’s the guy that kind of introduces cinema to you. I was just thrilled to be meeting him, let alone thinking I’d end up with a job.

You mentioned research. What kind of research did you do for the role?
Well, the first thing I wanted to do was to learn about Middle East politics and history, because it’s not something we learnt about in Australian schools. I spent the first twelve months learning about that, and then we’d work on the accent and a heap of things like that. You just try and use your time as best you can until the final phone call comes through and they say ‘hop on the plane’.

How the hell do you come in and out of those accents so easily?
You’ve got to do a lot of homework. I’ve probably got a bit of an ear for it, and have always enjoyed doing it, but there’s the difference between doing it OK and doing it really well. With a lot of work, you can accomplish it though. You can do an American accent or you can do an American accent that sounds convincing to the Americans?

What a cast this film has too!
Yeah, and it’s hugely international, we had French, German, Israelis, Palestinians. I think it gives the film a really unique flavour.

One of your co-stars is fellow Aussie, Geoffrey Rush. Had you met him before?
Yeah, funnily enough, we got to know each other on these constant flights to and from L.A – both being from Melbourne. We were always catching up in the lounge and on the plane – backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards – and struck up a relationship through that. Then, we finally got to work together, so it was just really great and so was he. A huge thrill.

I was just reading an online poll that said the Superhero that kids would most like to see back on the big screen is The Hulk. The word is – they’re not going to watch a sequel, if you’re not in it. Avi Arad recently announced that they’re doing a ‘redo’ – so I assume that means you’re not in it?
[Laughs] Oh, look out! I have no idea (about a sequel or remake) I’ve never had a conversation about it with anyone. If they do one, and only a sequel, within a particular time frame, I’m required to come back.

How’s St.Kilda going to go this year?
Who knows? I do have some issues with our list, I think we’re short in a few areas, but hopefully we’ll be able to go tantalisingly close once again.

MUNICH is now available on DVD