Bana shines in Bronx dark­ness

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES - NEALA JOHN­SON

THE res­i­dents of New York bor­ough the Bronx are a wel­com­ing bunch. When they learned movie star Eric Bana was in their midst, shoot­ing a fi lm called Deliver Us From Evil, they gave him the tra­di­tional wel­come of ran­dom pro­jec­tiles known as “Bronx Air­mail”.

“There was the oc­ca­sional, spe­cial bit of air­mail – a cou­ple of bot­tles, some nap­pies,” Bana said. “But be­sides the air­mail, people in the Bronx were among the most pa­tient, ac­com­mo­dat­ing people on a lo­ca­tion shoot I think I’ve ever come across. Prob­a­bly be­cause what we were do­ing paled into in­signifi cance to what they were used to.”

In the early days of Bana’s Hol­ly­wood work­ing life – he fi rst headed to the US af­ter star­ring in Chop­per in late 2000 – it was a dif­fer­ent kind of pro­jec­tile be­ing slung his way: non- stop movie of­fers, start­ing with pro­ducer Jerry Bruck­heimer and di­rec­tor Ri­d­ley Scott’s Black Hawk Down.

“When I fi rst started it was this ridicu­lous smor­gas­bord for ev­ery­one. You’d fi nd ma­te­rial would come to you, it would be pretty much ready to go, it would have start dates and di­rec­tors at­tached,” Bana said.

“Ev­ery great piece of ma­te­rial would go into pro­duc­tion; that’s not al­ways the case now. It’s not as easy as just fi nd­ing stuff you want to do, it’s about fi nd­ing the stuff you want to do that’s ac­tu­ally go­ing to get made as well.”

The down­turn started af­ter the writ­ers’ strike of 2007- 08.

“The in­dus­try sort of shrunk up­wards,” Bana said, mean­ing only the huge block­busters were guar­an­teed to go, while smaller fi lm projects fl ail.

“It means ev­ery­one has to work that lit­tle bit harder for things just to get into pro­duc­tion. It does make the ground feel a bit more shaky for ev­ery­one. But it’s more in­ter­est­ing as well.”

Though he’s done his share of what might be con­sid­ered block­busters ( Hulk, Troy, Star Trek), the shakier ground hasn’t seen Bana re­sort to tak­ing what­ever su­per­hero side­kick gig is on of­fer just to get paid.

In fact, he has been liv­ing “lazily at home in Mel­bourne all year this year, work­ing out what to do next”. His panic sta­tions re­main un­oc­cu­pied.

“I’ve never pan­icked about fi nd­ing the stuff I want to do,” Bana said. “I’ll just keep read­ing un­til some­thing jumps out that ex­cites me.”

One of the projects that jumped out at him was the new su­per­nat­u­ral hor­ror Deliver Us From Evil, in which Bana steps into the shoes of a real- life New York cop Ralph Sarchie, who had a radar for spooky cases and teamed up with priests to cast bad spir­its out of his beat.

The fi lm sees Sarchie and his part­ner ( played with great black hu­mour by Com­mu­nity’s Joel McHale) con­stantly ven­ture af­ter dark where oth­ers fear to tread: dank base­ments, grim apart­ments, the Bronx Zoo.

A priest ( Edgar Ramirez) then helps Sarchie come to grips with what’s re­ally caus­ing these crimes.

“I knew it would be a hor­ror fi lm but it didn’t read like a hor­ror fi lm,” Bana said.

“For me, it was this amaz­ing char­ac­ter and his re­demp­tion, who hap­pens to be in the mid­dle of a hor­ror fi lm.

“In fact, prob­a­bly 80 per cent of the stuff that makes you jump in the fi lm are real things, as op­posed to su­per­nat­u­ral things, and that’s what makes it kinda cool and a bit more scary.”

Di­rec­tor Scott Der­rick­son warned the ac­tors it would be hell to shoot: “More like an ac­tion scene than an ex­or­cism scene,” Bana said.

Co- star Olivia Munn ( who plays Sarchie’s wife) swears the se­quence is an al­most shot- for- shot re­cre­ation of a real NYPD video – in­ex­pli­ca­ble bleed­ing and all.

Bana saw the NYPD tapes too – they were enough to keep him awake for sev­eral nights – but he’s re­luc­tant to talk about it to score cheap pub­lic­ity.

“I’m just gonna say I didn’t like what I saw and I don’t like jok­ing about it. It’s a funny sub­ject be­cause it’s re­ally easy to split it down into ‘ be­lieve’ or ‘ don’t be­lieve’,” he said.

“But there are plenty of coun­tries and cul­tures where ex­or­cism is a com­pletely nor­mal thing, it’s not a taboo topic.

“So to look at that from a dif­fer­ent an­gle was eye- open­ing, be­cause the only touch­point for me – as for most people – on the sub­ject of ex­or­cism com­pletely re­lates back to hor­ror fi lms.”

DELIVER US FROM EVIL Now show­ing at Vil­lage Cin­e­mas ( Glenorchy only)

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