Hollywood Confidential

Published: Thursday July 3, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday July 3, 2014 MYT 11:54:03 AM

Eric Bana delivers moviegoers unto horror

Going places: Eric Bana prefers to shoot scenes on location. ‘It’s more interesting and it adds to your performance,’ he said.

Going places: Eric Bana prefers to shoot scenes on location. ‘It’s more interesting and it adds to your performance,’ he said.

After years of doing heavy drama, Eric Bana tries his hand at horror.

For Eric Bana, 2004 was his banner year! Following his mind blowing performance in Chopper, Hollywood came courting. His first major role in Hollywood was Troy, in which he held his own opposite Brad Pitt. And what followed were plum roles in movies directed by Ridley Scott, Ang Lee, Steven Spielberg and Wolfgang Petersen.

Since then, things have slowed down somewhat, but now he’s starring in Deliver Us From Evil, a change of genre for the actor. His director is Scott Derrickson responsible for such horror classics as The Exorcism Of Emily Rose and Sinister. His costars are Joel McHale, Edgar Ramirez and Olivia Munn.

Bana hails from Melbourne, Australia and remains fiercely Croatian and Australian. After dropping out of high school at 16, he found his niche as a stand-up comedian. At an interview (for Hulk) in Hollywood years ago, Bana told me: “As a small child I used to do a lot of mimicry, foreign accents and things like that. At the time I didn’t know what use it was going to be.

“It was just something I did for fun with family and friends. Years later when I started seeing movies, I thought maybe there might be a use for that type of skill. Then when it became clear that I had no interest in tertiary education, a friend suggested I try stand-up comedy. I did that for six years until I started to get bored and felt I really wanted to try drama.”

Which, of course, led to him to audition for and being cast in Chopper in which he played a notorious criminal. That performance won him all sorts of acclaim in Australia and opened the door for acting opportunities in the US.

What attracted you to Deliver Us From Evil?

I just loved the script. I thought it was fascinating. I loved the world that Scott had created and selfishly fell in love with Ralph Sarchie. (Sarchie is a retired NYPD police officer and a practising demonologist. His book, Beware The Night, on which the movie is based on details his investigations into disturbing and inexplicable crimes.) I would have played that character in any film – it just happened to be in a horror film – and then when I met the real guy he was everything I expected and a little bit more; so it was a bit of a bonus.

Do you believe evil lurks in all of us?

No, I really don’t – which is the one thing that came out of talking to both Ralph and Scott. We don’t take the subject too seriously because we don’t like the idea that possessed people might be living in our suburbs. The truth is, when it occurs it’s a very infrequent phenomenon. Keep in mind there are various stages of possession. It’s like the difference between being an alcoholic and somebody who likes to have a couple of drinks a week.

Were you a fan of the horror genre before?

I’m a fan of the genre in an old school sense. I love it when it’s done well. The Shining is one of my favourite, favourite films. I saw The Exorcist when I was very young, and it freaked the hell out of me, but I love that movie. Even something like The Blair Witch Project where you’ve got the occasional jump scare scares me. But I prefer it when there’s a kind of foreboding sense. I prefer eerie to super scary, which is what Scott does so well.

How important was it to shoot the film in authentic locations?

The first thing I said to Scott when I met him, was please tell me we’re not going to shoot this in Toronto or Vancouver, or even worse, outside of America. And he was like ‘No, no, no. We’re going to shoot in New York because it’s a really important element to the story.’ Architecturally, (The Bronx) has a really unique quality. It has a kind of tension and a colour to it that’s hard to match, and fortunately the producers had the same thought.

So, the whole film was shot all on location. If you saw a basement that was full of pipes where you’re going to knock your head, you’re going to get knocked out. There’s no cardboard, no plastic – everything was real. Besides I much prefer to be on location than in a studio. It’s more interesting, and it adds adds to your performance.

The anguish of the character, how difficult was it getting that emotion across?

It was very helpful to have met the real Ralph, but Scott had done such an amazing job of describing him in the script. But he warned me: Ralph is the most intense guy you’ll ever meet. He’s mellowed a little bit now compared to 10 or 15 years ago, but when I met him I was very conscious of that.

Meeting an actor who’s playing you can be very awkward; he’s the guy you’re going to be portraying. I wanted him to be comfortable, so I actually I didn’t ask him any questions at all. Ninety percent of the time when we spoke we were talking about motorcycles, not police work, or exorcisms.

I figured I’d get a lot more out of it by allowing him to just be himself. And I got to know him and see him interact with others and witness his reputation in The Bronx – he’s a legend.

Deliver Us From Evil is a kind of homecoming for you. The first movie you made in Hollywood was also produced by the legendary Jerry Bruckheimer?

He gave me my first job here, and it’s been an amazing ride ever since. At the time, I never had any expectations of having an international career. I still pinch myself every day that I’ve worked with the people I’ve worked with and been able to move around between different types of movies and different directors and co-stars, and still find stuff to do that I haven’t done before. No part of me that saw that coming then, and it’s still fun.

Are your sons, ages 12 and 14, likely to follow in your footsteps?

Not so much in the acting footsteps, but they have a good appreciation of the profession; they realise that filmmaking has many other jobs besides acting so they might be interested in the other side of the camera, but we’ll see. I wouldn’t discourage it.

> Philip Berk, eight-time President of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, hobnobs with celebrities to report exclusively from Los Angeles. 'Deliver Us From Evil' opens in cinemas nationwide today.

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment, Eric Bana, Australian, Movies, Deliver Us From Evil

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