Bana shines in Bronx darkness
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)