AUSSIE BANA GOES FROM HULK TO TROY
Eric Bana/Troy Interview by Paul Fischer in New York.> Australia's Eric Bana is on the fast track to Hollywood stardom, from TheHulk to Troy, but this very Aussie actor is now looking for something a bitless expansive, as he explains to PAUL FISCHER.
Q: How long take you to read the Iliad? At what point did you have to relyon Cliff's Notes?
No, No. I just read the long version. There was no point cheating. I hadplenty of time.
Q: Did you read the famous new translation?
I'm not sure what's the definition of the new translation or the oldtranslation. The one I read was certainly pretty thick.
Q: Did any of your work on Hulk prepare you for this movie?
Probably not, no. I think it's pretty safe to say that this character andthis time period are pretty unique to anything I've done before, so it waspretty much from scratch.
Q: What about the physicality of this? How much preparation was there?
There was a lot. I was fortunate enough to be cast very early. It was aroundSeptember so I had many months of preparation back home in Australia beforeI left to go to London. It wasn't so much the working out, because I'm pretty active any way, but it was the specific nature of the training itself. The many, many months of sword training and many months of horseback riding and that sort of stuff.
Q: Can you elaborate on your regiment?
Just staying healthy. It wasn't so much gym work. It was learning the skillsthat needed to be learned. Yeah, we needed to be in shape, but I alwaysfigured that was kind of an aside to the other things that needed to be done because if you weren't on top of it, you were either going to fall off ahorse and hurt yourself or you were going to get whacked with a sword.
Q: Who's the better fighter, you or Brad?
I'll leave that up to you.
Q: How much of your action scene with Brad was you guys? Because it reallydid look like it was all you.
It was all us. There were no stunt doubles in the movie with Brad and me.The Choreography was really extensive. We had the best people teaching us fromvaried backgrounds and disciplines, and they were really determined to comeup with a fighting style that was recognizable, that was going to be a little different from everything we'd seen before, so if you had a really good look at the fights, just about every single move is a death move . . . every time you make a movie, it is a lunge to kill or it's a set-up move for the next move, which is not usually the case. So it required a lot of training and a lot of choreography and, for instance, the fight between Brad and me, we started learning the actual fight? Well, the day I got to London I started that, so that was in March, and we shot it in December.
Q: Were you a fan of the legend before you began work on this movie?
It was something I got to learn more about. I even studied Greek mythologyat school and I wish I hadn't. But I obviously studied the Iliad when I gotthe part and I did the research and fell in love with the story.
Q: Why did you think the story was so resonant, and could you talk about thehumanity of these characters?
I think one of the reasons it's lasted so long, I think it's very obviouswhen you see the film now that it's a story you can lay over any period oftime, and there's a lot of relevance. I'm sure that's why it's stood up forso long.
And it's a thoroughly entertaining story. It has so many elements we can allrelate to? Of revenge and love and love for country, love for family, ego,so many elements there, that it's completely timeless.
Q: If you can talk about the humanity of Homer's characters, because I thinkHector is a good example? He's a great guy.
Yes, he is a good guy. I'd have him over for a barbecue. To me that's what Ireally loved about the story because even though it's obviously a huge film,but it works because of the characters in it. It's a character-driven story,and that's what I loved about it. It's a mammoth tale on a mammoth scale,but it all comes down to three or four relationships and Agamemnon's desireto rule the world, Paris's Love for Helen, King Priam's love for his sonsand his blind love of the gods and his faith, and making decisions that goagainst rationale, Hector's love for Paris and his love for Troy, Achilles'love for immortality? It comes down to those simple things that we reallyidentify with. From those very human emotions and actions spur this hugetale. So it's very followable . . . go right down and you can identify withhow it started.
Q: Do you see Troy as an anti-war film?
I guess it could definitely be that. I find that is dependent on theindividual. It's certainly not a great endorsement of blood lust. I think its why it's lasted this long. I think it's obvious. I mean it's a story thatcan be laid over every time period, and yes, there's a time of war now, butthere's always someone at war.
Q: Can you talk about Brad? Would you invite him over for a barbecue?
Of course I'd invite him over. He's invited me over for a barbecue, so I ofcourse I'd invite him. He's a great guy. There wasn't much room for peopleto be like: wrapping cotton wool in this production. We were just going atit hammer and tong every day, and it's a really tough shoot in that sense,and Brad's just a regular guy. And there were no exceptions made for anybody and there was never a problem.
Q: And Peter O'Toole?
Well, he's a legend isn't he? And obviously a joy. I'm sure if you ask theactors who were lucky enough to have scenes with him what their favouritemoments in the movie were, they'd probably all say: I remember there was aparticular scene I had with Peter or something similar. Yeah, he's just thegreatest guy. Just something I'll never forget.
Q: Was everybody ill?
I wasn't. I had the secret.
Q: How did background as a comic performer prepare you for these intensenarratives?
Probably not at all, I have to say. In the case of Hector, probably notreally at all. . . I think there are times where you walk onto a set whereyou can potentially be intimidated or distracted at what's going on aroundyou, And if there are any similarities, the only thing I can say is that,having performed in front of thousands of people live, that one?? Probablyuses an element that enables you to focus, that probably helps. But besidethat, no. Not really at all.
Q: Do you miss the comedy?
Q: It's still pretty early in your career and you're starting to make somehuge films. Where do you expect to go from here?
I'm going to do something small next.
Q: Which is?
Well, it wouldn't be too hard, would it? I mean? No I dunno.
Q: Are you impressed by these huge films?
No, not at all. I never look at the size of the film when I'm looking forpart. The last three international films I've done, I've been drawn like afly to the characters. It's been very easy choices for me, but they'reridiculously great characters to play, so size of the film doesn't reallyhave much bearing. But it is odd that they've been as big as they have been.But it doesn't bother me. I think it's also a real kind of challenge andtakes a certain personality type to be able to function inside those bigmachines, and I think once you get into a groove, they can be kind of fun.
Q: Are you doing Hulk 2
I wouldn't know. Am I? I don't have a scoop for you. It would depend I guess.
Q: if you did it, would you like it to be lighter than the first one?
I think there would be room for the film to be lighter, yes.
Q: Do they have an option on your services?
Yeah. Look, if they come up with a great script and they want to do a sequel.
I'm sure I'd be interested. I'm kind of signed on for that, I think, so I'llhave to wait to see.
Q: How did you relate to Hector? How did you personally relate to him?
Well, first of all, I really liked him a lot when I read the script. So Ireally felt a lot for him. I felt he was just a wonderful character. I'm oneof two brothers? I'm a younger brother and I totally identify with my olderbrother being a Hector type because he always has to look for me. Not that Iwas as bad as Paris when I was growing up, but I totally got that, and I hada real affinity and affection for that dynamic. Orlando I love to death, andwe've worked together before and when he was cast as my younger brother, itwas just a great feel and I hope that shows in the film.
Q: You're also both family men too - you and Hector.
I guess subconsciously that definitely helps. Yeah.
Q: There seems to be a little attraction between Hector and Helen?
Oh right! You picked up on that! Good.
Q: Was that in the book or was it something Wolfgang introduced?
I joked with Wolfgang that Hector and Helen were having an affair, but Ididn't play that out in the film. I thought it would be too simple if Hectorhad a disdain for Helen, and I didn't want that to play. I wanted him toslowly come to terms with the fact that here was the key to his brother'shappiness, this woman. And he had to warm to that, and I wanted him to warmto that, so it would be natural that he would kind of warm to Helen as well.. . We didn't have a kissing scene or anything like that.
Q: Are you continuing to make Australia your home base?
Yeah. Been there for the last 8 months. Melbourne.
Q: No desire to move to North America?
It would make as much sense to move to London, really. There's no real pointmoving. Look at the films I've done. I've only shot one thing in NorthAmerica and the rest of them are all over the place. So makes no sensewhatsoever to Live here. It actually makes a lot of sense to stay where I am. It hasn'thad any negative effect at all.
Q: This movie has two Australians in it, so are you surprised that Australians are making such headway internationally in film?
No. I think it's obviously very pleasant, and it's great for fellow Australians, but no, I'm not surprised at all. I don't think really have a theory on it but I suppose it's hopefully because we're good at what we do. It's certainly not a charity. If you get a go and if you don't do well, you're not going to get another one just because you're an Aussie.
Q: No immediate plans? Are you taking a break?
No, I've had a good break. I've kind of been at home for a long time, so I'mjust getting ready to decide what to do next.
Q: Does your family go with you to exotic locations?
Exotic? To me, exotic is being with my family at home. Yes, they do.
TROY OPENS ON MAY 13