"I think the media would love to tell you that your life is about to change but that's a hunk of sh*t most of the time. It really is. They might think that's empowering and that it'll change your life, but it just doesn't work that way. So few people are dramatically affected by that stuff, and the rest of us are blessed enough to just do whatever the hell we want 99% of the time." Eric Bana
Aussie actor Eric Bana is widely recognized for portraying the title roles in the biopic Chopper (2000) and the comic-based The Hulk (2003). A former comedian and TV star in his native country, Bana acted in such films as Black Hawk Down (2001), The Nugget (2002), Finding Nemo (2003, voice) and Troy (2004).
The 6' 4" tall actor is a close friend of Hugh Jackman and a father of two. His upcoming films include Lucky You, Munich, and Romulus, My Father.
Childhood and Family:
"I love being at home, being with friends and family. I'm of European stock, brought up in Australia. I'm a passionate guy. I just love life." Eric Bana
The son of a Croatian father and German mother, Eric Banadinovich was born on August 9, 1968, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. He has one older brother, Anthony (banker), who was born in 1965. After finishing high school, Eric studied classical acting and classical text in Sydney. One of his drama teachers suggested he join the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney, Australia.
In 1997, Eric Bana tied the knot with Rebecca Gleeson. They currently reside in Melbourne, Australia, along with their two children, son Klaus (born in August 1999) and daughter Sophia (born in April 2002). Bana, whose first car was an old XB Coupe (purchased for $1000 when he was 15), is an avid bike and car racer in Australia. He made his motor sport debut in 1996's Targa Tasmania, driving that same 1974 Ford Falcon XB Coupe. Other competitions include the 2002 and 2003 Classic Adelaide.
"I race historic muscle cars back in Australia. And I try to race home as soon as I'm finished a movie but don't tell anyone." Eric Bana
“I wanted to be a mechanic. When I was 14, I wanted to quit school and go work on my car. But my dad said, ‘Son, you shouldn't do that. You should stay in school until your education is finished, and when you're done, don't make your hobby your job.’” Eric Bana
Originally thinking of becoming a mechanic, Eric Bana found himself doing such odd jobs as washing cars at a service station, pushing trolleys at Coles New World and working as a barman at Melbourne's Castle Hotel in 1991, in the latter of which Bana began his career as a comedian. After doing stand-up comedy for a couple years, Bana was picked as a regular for an Aussie sketch comedy TV show, “Full Frontal,” where he stayed from 1993 to 1996. Bana followed it up with his own 1996 comedy special titled Eric and two brief-run TV shows, “Eric” (Bana also wrote and co-produced), a sketch comedy show featuring a slew of popular Australian actors, as well as the variety show “The Eric Bana Show Live” (1997, ran for eight episodes). By that time, he won a Logie (an Australian Television Award) as the country's Most Popular Comedy Personality.
"Early, it was Richard Pryor. I did stand-up for 10 years before acting. And the movie Mad Max (1979), it cemented in my mind that I wanted to be an actor." Eric Bana
Bana decided to turn his career toward acting. He made his debut as kick boxer Con Petropoulous in Rob Sitch's The Castle (1997, starring Michael Caton) and played a reoccurring role in several episodes of the drama series "All Saints" (November 1999-February 2000). The new millennium marked Bana with the breakthrough role of legendary criminal Mark "Chopper" Read, in Andrew Dominik's biopic Chopper (2000), based on the best-seller autobiography From The Inside. Bana gained almost 50 pounds to portray the title role and his brilliant performance received praise, winning an Australian Film Industry Award for Best Actor.
From 2000 to 2001, Bana played the supporting role of Joe Sabatini in the Australian comedy-drama series "Something in the Air." He then returned to the silver screen, playing an American sergeant in Ridley Scott's adaptation of the true war story as told in Mark Bowden's book, Black Hawk Down (2001, with Josh Hartnett and Ewan McGregor). In the next year, Bana starred as Lotto in writer-director Bill Bennett's comedy tale about a group of three road workers, The Nugget (with Stephen Curry and Dave O'Neil).
After providing his voice as the Anchor in the animated hit Finding Nemo, Bana starred as research scientist Dr. Bruce Banner, who mutates into a monstrously powerful, green-skinned behemoth called Hulk (2003), in Ang Lee's adaptation of the long-running Marvel comic "The Incredible Hulk." Being asked about the flop movie, Bana said, “The Hulk is definitely what I would categorize as un-fun. I don't think it always needs to be fun. It doesn't always need to be one big happy family. Everyone got along, but it was a difficult, hard shoot. And I think you see every ounce of sweat on the screen.”
In 2004, director-producer Wolfgang Petersen cast Bana to play Hector, the eldest son of Priam, King of Troy and the greatest Trojan warrior, in his film version of Homer's great epic Troy (also starring Brad Pitt). For his role, Bana underwent weight and fight-training, which he admitted, “You couldn't have bluffed your way through. It takes a lot of bloody arrogance, even with six months' preparation.”
Soon, Eric Bana will star as professional poker player Huck Cheever in Curtis Hanson's Lucky You (with Drew Barrymore and Robert Duvall) and as a Mossad agent in Steven Spielberg's film about the tragic aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympics, titled Munich (alongside Daniel Craig and Geoffrey Rush). Director Richard Roxburgh also handed him the starring role in his next drama film, based on Raimond Gaitas' award-winning memoir, Romulus, My Father.
"I think I've been fortunate and right now I'm in an incredibly fortunate position, which I'm totally aware of. I think luck gets you on to the stage. But it has nothing to do with keeping you there." Eric Bana
- Australian Film Industry: Best Actor, Chopper, 2000