Name: Eric Bana
Date of Birth: 9th August 1968
Place of Birth: Melbourne, Australia
Full Frontal (TV) (1993-1996)
Eric (TV) (1996-1997)
The Eric Bana Show Live (TV) (1997)
The Castle (1997)
Something in the Air (TV) (2000)
Black Hawk Down (2001)
The Nugget (2002)
The Hulk (2003)
Being a dodgy Australian comedian is not known as a great springboard into Hollywood stardom, but Eric Bana seems to have followed in the footsteps of the likes of Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman to become a truly bankable antipodean star. Through his role as Mark Read in the small independent film, Chopper, he's moved on to work in Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down and plays the title role in The Hulk by the great Ang Lee.
Eric was born in Australia on 9th August 1968 to a Croatian father and a German mother, so to say he is multinational is an understatement. As a young man, he worked as a bartender in Melbourne's Castle Hotel and it was during this phase that his comedic leanings began to show.
He started doing stand-up at a local bar in 1991 and the handsome entertainer became very popular very quickly. Within two years, television beckoned and Eric began work as writer and performer on one of Australia's most popular comedy programs, Full Frontal. He worked on the show for three years before being given his own (one-off and then a series) sketch show, Eric, followed by the series The Eric Bana Show Live. It was a hit and led to his first movie role.
Filmed in just 11 days, the Australian comedy The Castle was a surprise breakout hit (well, when compared to other Australian movies, anyway). It is the story of the Kerrigan family's battle to stay in their home which is in the way of a proposed airport. Received well in it's native Australia as well as the UK and USA, it featured Eric in only a secondary role. Eric then appeared in the Australian series Something in the Air in 2000 and was voted Australia's Most Popular Comedy Performer at the Logies.
Chopper is the story of Mark "Chopper" Read retold with a little artistic license. Mark Read is a household name in Australia thanks to his best-selling memoirs - he is a life criminal, and proud of it. Suggested for the role by Read himself, Eric went to extreme lengths to get his part just right - gaining 30 pounds, having his body covered in tattoos in makeup every day and even living with the man for 2 days to gain some appreciation of his bizarre mind. The film is very very good and received mostly positive reviews and a worldwide release. Some found the violence gratuitous and unnecessary, but all agreed that Bana's performance was incredibly convincing and it was this role that saw Hollywood calling. Chopper was very much Eric's Romper Stomper.
As an aside, if you found the ear cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs hardcore, then check out the scene in prison where Read asks another inmate to cut off his ear, so he can be moved to the hospital wing. Unlike Tarantino's scene, all of it is shown and it is very convincing.
Even before Chopper's release, Eric had decided to leave Something in the Air to pursue an international career and his first taste of Hollywood action was when he bagged a large role in Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down. A big domestic hit, the film made people in the business sit up and take Eric seriously as was very much the case for Ang Lee who has handed the much coveted role of Bruce Banner (identical sounding surnames not being the primary reason, I believe) to Eric. Between these two roles Eric made The Nugget, a small Australian comedy. It seems a strange step backwards, but perhaps he owed someone a favour...
Next is 2004's Troy. I have little information about this apart from that Eric is to play Hector while Brad Pitt is signed on as Achilles. This all sounds like a big deal, possibly much in the same vein as Ridley Scott's Gladiator.
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