Eric Bana (born Eric Banadinovich; 9 August 1968) is an Australian film and television actor. He began his career as a comedian in the sketch comedy series Full Frontal before gaining critical recognition in the biopic Chopper (2000). After a decade of critically acclaimed roles in Australian TV shows and films, Bana gained Hollywood's attention by playing the role of American Delta Force Sergeant Norm 'Hoot' Gibson in Black Hawk Down (2001) and the lead role as Bruce Banner in the Ang Lee directed film Hulk (2003).
An accomplished dramatic actor and comedian, he received Australia's highest film and television awards for his performances in Chopper, Full Frontal and Romulus, My Father. Bana performs predominantly in leading roles in a variety of low-budget and major studio films, ranging from romantic comedies and drama to science fiction and action thrillers. His most popular films include Black Hawk Down (2001), Hulk (2003), Troy (2004), and Munich (2005).
Showing acting skill early in life, Bana began doing impressions of family members at the age of six or seven, first mimicking his grandfather's walk, voice and mannerisms. In school, he mimicked his teachers to get out of trouble. As a teen he watched the Mel Gibson film Mad Max (1979), and decided he wanted to become an actor. However, he did not seriously consider a career in the performing arts until 1991 when he was persuaded to try stand-up comedy while working as a barman at Melbourne's Castle Hotel. His stand-up gigs in inner-city pubs did not provide him with enough income to support himself, so he continued his work as a barman, clearing tables.
That same year, Bana made his film debut in the Australian movie The Castle, which tells the story of a Melbourne-based family's struggles to keep their home by Melbourne's airport after the government and airport authorities force them to move. He was featured in a supporting comedic role as Con Petropoulous, a kickboxing accountant. The Castle was a surprise critical and financial success, earning AU$10,326,428 at the box office in Australia.
For the role, Bana shaved his head, gained thirty pounds, and spent two days with Read to perfect his mimicry. The real Chopper suggested that he have his ears cut off in order to capture his true personality; Bana declined. During filming he arrived on set at four in the morning and spent five hours being covered in Read's trademark tattoos. In spite of the film's limited release outside of Australia, Bana's performance received positive reviews. American film critic Roger Ebert complimented Bana, stating that "in a comedian named Eric Bana the filmmakers have found, I think, a future star. He has a quality no acting school can teach you and few actors can match. You cannot look away from him". Chopper was a critical and financial success in Australia, and was nominated for Best Film at the Australian Film Institute Awards in 2001. Bana's performance won the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor.
In 2001, director Ridley Scott cast Bana as an American soldier in the film Black Hawk Down (2001). Scott, impressed by Bana's performance in Chopper, did not require him to audition. In the film he played Sergeant First Class Norm 'Hoot' Gibson, an elite Delta Force soldier, who fights his way out of a battle in Mogadishu, Somalia after a mission to capture two top lieutenants of a renegade warlord goes awry. Bana shed the weight he had gained for Chopper and began an exercise regimen months before filming began. He also trained with Delta Force operators at Fort Bragg, learning to fire weapons and clear rooms. The film was met with positive reviews and was number one at the American box office for three weeks after it opened.
Bana's next project was the low-budget Australian film The Nugget (2002). A comedy, the film portrays the effect of instant wealth on three working class men and was released with moderate success in Australia. Bana read the script after filming Chopper in 2000 and was drawn to it because it reminded him of his childhood and because he found its characters amusing and likable. While filming The Nugget, Bana was offered the lead role of Bruce Banner in the film adaptation of the popular comic book series The Incredible Hulk. Only after learning of director Ang Lee's involvement in the project did he consider the role. Bana admired Lee for his work on the film The Ice Storm and agreed to work on the film before the final script was complete. He said he was drawn to the film because "the character of Bruce Banner had dramatic potential" and was "a fairly non-traditional superhero". Hulk (2003) was not a critical nor box office success, but Bana's performance was praised: Jack Matthews of the New York Daily News felt that Bana played the role of Bruce Banner "with great conviction". Bana earned an Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films nomination for "Cinescape Genre Face of the Future" for the film.
In 2004, Bana co-starred with Brad Pitt in the big-budget film Troy. In the film he played Prince Hector, leader of the Trojan forces battling against the Greek warrior Achilles. Director Wolfgang Petersen offered him a role in the film after meeting with Brad Pitt, a fan of Chopper. The film was an international success, grossing US$364 million. In North America however, it earned considerably less, grossing less than US$133 million.
In 2006, Bana was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Lucky You, a romantic comedy on which Bana worked before filming Munich, was released in early 2007. In the film, he plays Huck Cheever, a professional poker player who must overcome his personal problems to win a high stakes tournament in Las Vegas. His next film was the Australian drama Romulus, My Father (2007). The film, based on Raimond Gaita's memoir of the same name, portrays a couple and their struggle in the face of adversity to raise their son. The film was a critical success, and Bana's performance earned him a second Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor.
Bana recently appeared in The Other Boleyn Girl, a historical drama in which he plays Henry VIII of England opposite Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. He will also star as the villain Nero in the film Star Trek and as Henry DeTamble in the film adaptation of The Time Traveler's Wife. In June 2008, it was announced that Bana will co-star in Judd Apatow's third directorial feature about stand up comics entitled Funny People that will also feature Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen.
Bana is a motor racing enthusiast, and participates in various motor racing competitions in Australia. At the age of fourteen, Bana wanted to leave school to focus full-time on becoming a motor mechanic, but his father convinced him to complete school, advising him to avoid making his hobby a job. Bana purchased his first car, a 1973 XB Ford Falcon coupé, at the age of fifteen for AU$1100 and driving it made his motor sport racing debut in 1996's Targa Tasmania, a week-long race around the island state of Tasmania. In 2004, Bana purchased a Porsche 944 to compete in Australia's Porsche Challenge. Competing throughout 2004, he often finished in the top ten and in November, finished fourth at the Sandown 500, a personal best. On 21 April 2007 Bana crashed his 1974 XB Falcon Coupe in the Targa Tasmania rally. Neither he nor his co-driver were injured.
In 2005, Bana narrated the documentary Terrors of Tasmania about the endangered Tasmanian Devil. The film followed the life of a female Tasmanian Devil called Manganinnie and discussed the incurable facial cancer which threatens the survival of the species. He has also worked with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, donating money to animal shelters in Berlin while filming Troy in 2004.
|1993–1996||Full Frontal||Various characters||Television series|
|1997||The Eric Bana Show Live||Various characters||Television series|
|The Castle||Con Petropoulous|
|2000||Chopper||Chopper Read||Australian Film Institute Award - Best Actor|
|Something in the Air||Joe Sabatini||Television series|
|2001||Black Hawk Down||Sergeant First Class Norm 'Hoot' Gibson|
|2007||Lucky You||Huck Cheever|
|Romulus, My Father||Romulus|
|2008||The Other Boleyn Girl||King Henry VIII|
|The Time Traveler's Wife||Henry DeTamble||Post-production|
|Mary and Max||Damien||Filming, voice|
|2010||Factor X||Ken Landwehr||Pre-production|